Excavating the ghost from the meat-covered skeleton: An aesthetic engagement with technologically mediated medical imagery | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 12, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 1477-965X
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9533



The interior of the body is an alien landscape, the frontiers of which we are continually expanding. Technological developments have allowed us to see more and more of what lies beneath the skin. Starting with the violently erotic public spectacle of dissection in amphitheatres, through X-ray and endoscopy, to other current and future technologies that work towards the yet to be realized ideal (or myth) of a truly non-invasive but microscopically detailed depiction of the human body. This opening up of the human interior to our gaze is not exclusively a medical phenomenon. It is an exploration that has been shared by scientists, artists and entertainers, variously reappropriating imagery and technologies of seeing. Each new invasive technology brings with it the somewhat naïve belief that it can excavate the essence of the subject, their passions, motivations and faults, their ‘souls’ for lack of a better word. Yet while an X-ray can certainly not tell us anything of the subject’s personality, as we delve deeper we discover more about our chemical and electrical natures, encouraging the perception that our consciousness is the ‘sum of our parts’. However, as technologies have become more sophisticated, there has been an increasing tendency to present the body in segments, detached from their surrounding structures. A certain objectification and distancing that occurs when we view the flesh laid open. How do we engage with these views culturally, and how do they influence how we view others and ourselves? In this article I grapple with notions of a mutating body that we are actively in the process of changing in the context of my own and others’ visual practice, with particular emphasis on making the mediated nature of these images visible. I will engage in a celebratory but critical discussion of others’ and mine.


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