The Beauty of Life With X-Ray Vision

Python and protea flower. The snake’s trachea is visible (credit: Arie van ’t Riet / SPL)

Thank you to the BBC’s Earth section for sharing Dutch medical physicist and artist Arie van ’t Riet’s work, which he accomplishes with his home x-ray machine and dead flora and fauna.

Arie van ’t Riet has a unique view of life on earth.

As a medical physicist based in the Netherlands, van ’t Riet teaches radiographers about radiation physics and safety. As part of his teaching program, van ’t Riet searched for an example to demonstrate and visualise the influence of x-ray energy on the contrast of an x-ray image. The higher the x-ray energy, the lower the contrast.

“I arrived at flowers. After some years I started to edit and partly colour these x-ray images. And I added animals,” he says.

Under x-ray, a barn owl looks the same as a buzzard (credit: Arie van ’t Riet/ SPL)

van ’t Riet now produces a series of x-ray artworks demonstrating the inner beauty of life.

Each image is produced at his home, where he has an x-ray machine under licence. All the animals imaged were already dead. “It’s not justified to expose living animals to the risk of x-rays,” he says.

His work has now given him a new perspective on nature.

“The x-rays demonstrate the complexity and the inner refinement of natural objects. See the pelvic structure of the frog.”

On the other hand, the x-ray images also demonstrate the similarities between life forms, he says.

“See the trachea in the python and the lizard, it is the same construction as mine. The same holds for the bony structures like knee, elbow, hip, femur, fibula, ulna, radius etc. All the same. We judge the bird by its colour. But, they often are the same in an x-ray view, looking with x-ray eyes.”

You can read the rest of the article here.


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