Reconstructed Bodies (2002)

With the advent of digital imaging, the way we think about images and reality has drastically changed, particularly with respect to the body. In the worlds of art and advertising, necks are elongated, noses diminished, blemishes removed - different bodies are even recombined into a single composite ideal. New advances in medical imaging such as MRI and CT scans take images from many points around the body then compile them to create virtual representations of the internal structures of the body. Such uses of digital imaging take a selection of elements from the real to create a model of reality, rather than a direct copy of reality (as with the traditional notion of photography). A model as such requires interpretation and an understanding of the construction process on the part of the viewer, in order to relate the model back to the real.

However, the creation of such a model is not restricted to or dependent on digital imaging. The same type of process can be achieved through older, more antiquated methods, which leads one to believe that the changes in the imaging world are not an evolution of technology but instead an evolution of perception.

This series of images was created using new imaging ideas and very ancient pinhole imaging techniques, which were developed around the time of the Renaissance and predate the invention of photography. In this case a special pinhole photographic process was designed involving five separate exposures made on the same strip of 35mm film, each taken from a different location relative to the body and at different moments in time. The result is a single, continuous (although somewhat distorted) image that lacks the qualities of a specific viewpoint or of a captured moment of time.

The new ways of imaging have not only altered the way we see the body but also how we think about the body. Particularly when considered along with advances in genetics and the human genome project, the very notion of a body and the self, contained within a body becomes called into question and one must wonder what the body has or will become.

Dave Kemp, 2002