Monday, November 21, 2005

Art Project VIII / Biology Project II

you will need:

"holographic" projection equipment capable of producing a large (approx. 8 foot cube) three-dimensional image (not necessarily a real hologram)
a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner with associated high-memory computer
a certified MRI operator
interactive three-dimensional imaging software

WARNING: Do not attempt this project if you know or suspect you have internal metallic components of any kind (pacemaker, arterial stent, interior pins or braces of any kind, orthodontic braces, etc.), as might be left from a surgery or injury (shrapnel, bullets). Ask your dentist or primary care physician about interference from dental fillings. This is extremely important: your personal health is very much at risk. MRI machines generate very intense local magnetic fields, which can produce considerable force on magnetically susceptible objects.


1. Remove all metal or magnetically-written objects from your person and clothing. This may include, but is not limited to: clothing with metal zippers, credit cards, car keys, hotel keys or key cards, pocket change, some forms of governmental ID, pocket knives, cigarette lighters, watches, eyeglasses, belt buckles, nail clippers, paper clips, and cell phones. You may then put on a hospital gown and enter the MRI room.

2. Lie down in the MRI apparatus according to the instructions of the operator. You will need to remain relatively still for best results, so choose a position which is comfortable.

3. Lie as still as possible while your scans are being recorded.

4. Transfer the data from your scan to a three-dimensional imaging program. You may wish to use false color to make the various organs more visually distinct from one another. Feel free to separate the scans into multiple images, if desired (the tree of bronchioles in the lungs, the network of blood vessels, the digestive tract, the skeleton): this will improve viewability later.

5. Display your scan results in the projection equipment. Enter the projection and view your body close-up, from the inside. Wander around for as long as you like. You may leave the projection up as an art piece for others to wander through, if desired.

6. Answer the following questions:

a) In what ways did you find your body to be unlike the standard human body from our textbook? Are you proportioned in the same way? Are your organs in the same places?
b) Did you find evidence of birth defects, past surgeries or injuries (broken bones, e.g.)? How could you tell?
c) How did it feel to be inside the image of your body? What emotions were generated? How do you feel about it now?
d) If you elected to allow other people to walk around inside the image: is this in some way an invitation to intimacy with the viewers? Are you proud of your body? Do the images you recorded strike you as beautiful?
e) If you elected not to allow others to walk around inside the image: to what degree do you own representations of your own body? How is it different for someone to look at a false-color version of your insides than it would be for the same person to look at you, fully clothed, on the street?
f) Describe your visual impressions (what surprised you, what did it remind you of, etc.) of each of the following systems: nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, genitourinary, respiratory, musculoskeletal.
g) What parts of your body, if any, will you be giving more thought to as a result of this project? Are there any parts you will be contemplating less than previously?
h) If you have the opportunity to view the projected scan of a classmate, describe your reactions to his/r image. What was surprising? What was different from your own scan? Did the experience strike you as intimate? Could you distinguish between your body and your classmates' body solely on the basis of, for example, your respiratory systems, or are they too similar to permit distinction? If the classmate is of the opposite sex, how easily could this be determined without looking specifically at reproductive organs?

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