invisible visibility

Health & Body Portraits

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"Ellen Sandor often collaborates with scientists to look at the DNA strands of disease, X-rays, and scans of the brain through her 3D PHSCologram sculptures.  This new interpretation of the scientifically accurate data allows the doctors a new perspective on the information and the patients a better understanding through the art, a more approachable and engaging platform.”

Elysabeth Alfano
Huffpost

In 1989, (art)n collaborated with physicians and computer scientists at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago to create experimental MRI portraits from real patient data of the brain to diagnose the prognosis of a tumor.  This exploratory work led to future endeavors that included working with CT, PET and mammography imagery of real patients who were diagnosed with varying stages of cancer. During the mid-1990s, (art)n collaborated with Picker International to create a breakthrough visualization tool - the epiView, in which surgeons and physicians were able to output PHSColograms of patients in real time to prevent invasive procedures.  Notable projects include commissioned works for the National Institutes of Health and collaborations that explore autism with Northwestern University,  University of California, Berkeley, Boston Children’s Hospital, and The Stanley Center at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

 

Selected PHSColograms that address contemporary health issues and healing the body have been included in numerous exhibitions and are in the permanent collection of the International Center of Photography, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2001, (art)n’s sculpture, Telomeres Project on Imminent Immortality debuted at SIGGRAPH LA and the NYU Graduate Center Art Gallery during the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA. In 2009, Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for their discovery of telomerase enzyme. 

“The manner in which (art)n builds up the multiple layers of the sculpture echoes in reverse the way that scanning technologies deconstruct the body as a series of planes . . . Millions of ghostlike layered images have been taken in the name of science.  They reside in laboratories and doctor’s offices around the globe.  Although they have been made for the purpose of preserving, rather than giving up the “essence of life,” it is humbling to know how closely we can inspect life’s origins and inner workings.”

Carol Squires, Curator
excerpt from The Art of Science (2004)
International Center of Photography

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Pruning the Neuronal Forest (left), Mighty Microglia (Right), 2019
Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Azadeh Gholizadeh
Beth Stevens, The Stevens Lab: Lasse Dissing-Olesen
Special thanks to Caleb Sandor Taub
Stevens Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital and The Stanley Center at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Virtual Photograph/Digital PHSCologram Sculpture: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas, wood
48 x 48 inches

Mighty Microglia and Pruning the neuronal Forest

 

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light)2, Panel 1, 2, 3, 2018

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Azadeh Gholizadeh

Jennifer Doudna, The Doudna Lab: RNA Biology, University of California, Berkeley; Megan Hochstrasser, Innovative Genomics Institute, University of California, Berkeley

Inspired by Caleb Sandor Taub

Virtual Photograph/Digital PHSCologram Sculpture Details: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

30 x 30 inches

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of LIGHT)2

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of LIGHT)

 
 

Each panel depicts a different stage of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to replace a harmful mutation. First, the RNA-guided Cas9 protein searches for its matching DNA target. Next, the guide RNA pairs with one strand of the target DNA, and then Cas9 cuts both strands. Finally, the cell's repair machinery seals up the break by patching in a stretch of healthy DNA.

“Given how radical the implications of gene editing are for our species and our planet, opening the lines of communication between science and the public has never been more essential than it is now. Gone are the days when life was shaped exclusively by the plodding forces of evo­lution. We’re standing on the cusp of a new era, one in which we will have primary authority over life’s genetic makeup and all its vibrant and varied outputs. Indeed, we are already supplanting the deaf, dumb, and blind system that has shaped genetic material on our planet for eons and replacing it with a conscious, intentional system of human-directed evolution. 

The story of CRISPR is a reminder that breakthroughs can come from unexpected places and that it’s important to let a desire to understand nature dictate the path forward. But it’s also a reminder that scientists and laypeople alike bear a tremendous responsibility for the scientific process and its outputs. We must continue to support new findings in all areas of science, and we must wholeheartedly embrace and diligently exercise our stewardship over these discoveries. For, as history makes clear, just because we are not ready for scientific progress does not mean it won’t happen. Every time we unlock one of nature’s secrets, it signals the end of one experiment - and the beginning of many others. ”

— Jennifer Doudna, A Crack in Creation: Gene Edition and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution

CRISPR-Cas9 (A Ray of Light), Panels 1,2,3, 2017

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Chris Kemp, Diana Torres, and Azadeh Gholizadeh

Jennifer Doudna, The Doudna Lab: RNA Biology, UC Berkeley Megan Hochstrasser, Innovative Genomics Institute, UC Berkeley

Inspired by Caleb Sandor Taub

Virtual Photograph/Digital PHSCologram Sculpture Details: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

30 x 30 inches

Raun K. Kaufman, is the first person to fully recover from autism. Diagnosed with severe autism as a boy, his parents developed The Son-Rise Program® which enabled him to emerge from autism without any trace of his former condition. Since then Kaufman has served for several years as the CEO of the Autism Treatment Center of America and has spent his life teaching families the same program that benefited him.

(Brain + Love) Right,  2010

(Brain + Love) Left,  2010

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Chris Kemp, Michael Cone, and Janine Fron

Cynthia K. Thompson, Sladjana Lukic, Bharath Chandrasekaran, Joan Chiao, and Patrick Wong, Northwestern University

Raun K. Kaufman, Autism Treatment Center of America: The Son-Rise Program

Special thanks to Penya Sandor and Eric Taub

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

30 x 30 inches

(brain + love)

“In a commission for The Son- Rise Program at the Autism Treatment Center of America,  (art)n mapped the brain of a man cured of autism. Sandor used several scans of his brain taken while performing certain activities, each firing neuron paths captured as light on film. The result is a three-dimensional, transparent brain filled with colorful clusters as if everything were active at once. The model of Kaufman’s brain should serve as not only a beautiful artistic representation of the work done at the center, but also a valuable tool for the study of the brain.” 

 

Jessica Krinke , 'Life - now in exciting 3D!', Medill Reports Chicago

 

Complications of a Heart Attack

 

Complications of a Heart Attack,  2011

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Chris Kemp and Diana Torres

Dr. Richard Lee, Division of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

30 x 40 inches

making a difference: breast cancer revisited

Making a Difference: Breast Cancer Revisted, 2011

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Chris Kemp, Michael Cone and Diana Torres

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

30 x 40 inches

Making a Difference: Breast Cancer Revisited is part of a continuous process in the historical scientific visualizations of (art)n that merge art and science. This work was based on data collected from an anonymous patient’s breast MRI. After an initial mammogram and ultrasound, a paramagnetic substance Gadolinium was introduced into the suspected tissue. The colors red, yellow, and blue were assigned to parts of the tissue depending on how quickly the substance past through it. 

Red was more likely malignant, yellow intermediate, and blue was more likely benign. (art)n then took this data and reconstructed it three dimensionally with our own software. While the science stayed accurate and true, the art was made with certain aesthetic choices to create a powerful and iconic image for breast cancer research and support.

 

cryptobiology: reconstructing identity

In Cryptobiology: Reconstructing Identity, The glass DNA double helix in the foreground depicts type B DNA. This particular section was taken from the human DNA sequence coding for a protein called lysozyme. This enzyme breaks open the cell walls of some types of bacteria, and is part of our defense against infections. It was the first enzyme whos 3D structure was determined by X-ray crystallography. The sepia toned images in the background and the vertical strips staggered throught the image are actual images of DNA fingerprints.

Cryptobiology: Reconstructing Identity, 2001

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Keith Miller, Fernando Orellana and Janine Fron

Kathleen Helm-Bychowski, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, DePaul University

Special thanks to Stephan Meyers

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

40 x 30 inches

 

PET Study: Reconstructing Rodin

PET Study: Reconstructing Rodin, 1998

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Stephan Meyers and Janine Fron

Dr. Sam Gambhir, Crump Institute for Biological Imaging, UCLA School of
Medicine
Professor Charles Pelizzari, Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology,
University of Chicago

 

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

40 x 30 inches

 

pet study ii:man ray/picabia imitating Balzac

 

PET Study II: May Ray/Picabia Imitating Balzac, 2003

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Keith Miller, Janine Fron and Jack Ludden

Jim Strommer, Digital Media Group, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

40 x 30 inches

Man Ray once said, “Some of the most complete and satisfying works of art have been produced when their authors had no idea of creating a work of art, but were concerned with the expression of an idea.”  For Marcel Duchamp, “Artmaking is making the invisible, visible.”   

 

In 2003, Sandor and (art)n collaborated with scientists and physicians from the UCLA School of Medicine resulting in a reconstructed virtual portrait of real patient data from a PET scan that uniquely resembled one of Man Ray’s portrait photographs of Francis Picabia posing as Auguste Rodin’s Monument to Balzac sculpture.   From what at first observation was considered scientific data transcended into a work of art that speaks to an encapsulated moment where photography and sculpture fused into new media.  

 

In PET Study II: May Ray/Picabia Imitating Balzac, a virtual sculpture of the male torso is maligned with lung cancer at the left apex, highlighted in a yellowish hue. Working from a series of processed Postron Emmision Tomography (PET) images, inspired by Man Ray’s portrait of Francis Picabia, this peice shows a revolutionary way of looking at the human form in the original photograph from 1923, Man Ray captured the Dadaist artist, Francis Picabia in a rare moment, imitating Rodin’s 1895 Monument of Honoré de Balzac, the famous French novelist.   

pet study iii: man ray/electricité

Pet Study III: Man Ray/Electricité, 2003

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Keith Miller, Janine Fron and Jack Ludden

Jim Strommer, Digital Media Group, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine

 

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Duratrans, Kodalth, Plexiglas

40 x 30 inches

“The manner in which (art)n builds up the multiple layers of the sculpture echoes in reverse the way that scanning technologies deconstruct the body as a series of planes.  For positron emission tomography, or PET scans, which allow scientists to explore disease at the molecular level in a living patient, a subject is injected with a tracer labeled with short-lived, radioactive pharmaceuticals.  The isotope-tagged material moves through the body, giving off particles called positrons during radioactive decay.

 

When they collide with electrons, they produce photons.  The photons give off signals that are picked up by the PET scanner, which is a ring of electronic detectors that surrounds the body.  The resulting signals are fed into a computer, which reconstructs them as a picture sequence of planes cut through the body.

 

But by using the Picabia portrait, (art)n also pointedly includes a third concept about the layering and reproduction of the human form.  In the photograph, the bare-chested artist is said to be imitating the virile posture of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture, Monument to Balzac (1897-98), a massive portrait of the famed French novelist.  The portrait photographer Nadar wrote in a memoir that Balzac was afraid to have his picture taken because he believed that “all physical bodies are made up entirely of layers of ghostlike images, an infinite number of leaflike skins laid on top of the other.”  Balzac also thought that man was incapable of “creating something from nothing [and] . . . concluded that every time someone had his photograph taken, one of the spectral layers was removed from the body and transferred to the photograph.”  What one was giving up was “the very essence of life.”

 

Although Balzac misperceived the way a photographic image is made, his fear can be seen as a prescient vision of scientific capabilities.  Millions of ghostlike layered images have been taken in the name of science.  They reside in laboratories and doctor’s offices around the globe.  Although they have been made for the purpose of preserving, rather than giving up the “essence of life,” it is humbling to know how closely we can inspect life’s origins and inner workings.”

 

Carol Squires, Curator

excerpt from The Art of Science (2004)

International Center of Photography

 

DNA Editing

DNA Editing, 1999

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Fernando Orellana, Todd Margolis, Sabrina Raaf and Nichole Maury

David Goodsell & Arthur Olson, The Scripps Research Institute

 

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: HP/3M print, Kodalith, Plexiglas

40 x 30 inches

 

SKULL

Skull, 1995

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Stephan Meyers and Janine Fron

Ken Freeman, Andy Skinner, and Jeff Granita, Picker International

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Kodalith, Plexiglas

40 x 30 inches

KIDNEYS

 
 

Kidneys, 1997

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Stephan Meyers and Janine Fron

Ken Freeman, Andy Skinner, and Jeff Granita, Picker International

 

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Cibachrome, Kodalth, Plexiglas

16 x 20 inches

Sadie ELMO

Sadie Elmo, 1988

Ellen Sandor & (art)n

Donna Cox, George Francis and Ray Idaszak, NCSA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin, Electronic Visualization Lab, School of Art and Design, University of Illinois at Chicago

Special thanks to Larry Smarr, NCSA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

Virtual Photograph/PHSCologram: Cromolin, Kodalth, Plexiglas

24 x 20 inches

virtual implants, 1990

Virtual Implants, 1990 (detail)

Ellen Sandor & (art)n

Special thanks to Maggie Rawlings

Vintage PHSColograms: Cibachrome, Kodalith and Plexiglas

2 panels, 24 x 20 inches

 

Real-time 3D scanned female upper torso with the CyberWare scanner.

virtual beauty myth/virtual beast myth, 1990

Virtual Beauty Myth/Virtual Beast Myth, 1990 (details)

Ellen Sandor & (art)n

Vintage PHSColograms: Cibachrome, Kodalith and Plexiglas

2 panels, 24 x 20 inches

 

Real-time 3D scanned female and male lower torsos with the CyberWare scanner.

 
 
 

Artificial Heart

 

This image depicts the flow through the Pennsylvania State University Artificial Heart. The flow entering from the inflow valve, circulating in the main chamber, and exiting through the outflow valve, is depicted using particles and a particle trace. Each particle represents sample blood cells. The particle trace is colored by vorticity magnitude, representing the speed of the blood flow. Green cubes are used to identify regions of high vorticity-marking the locations where the particles first reach a specified threshold.

Artificial Heart, 1991

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Stephan Meyers

Christine Gong, and Fergus Merritt, NASA Ames Research Center

vintage PHSCologram: computer interleaved Crosfield Cibachrome and Kodalith films mounted on plexiglas, framed in a metal lightbox

24 x 20 inches

MRI Brain II & III (brain tumor)

One of the first art works visualizing real patient data from MRI scans.  A Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) of a woman with a brain tumor. Clearly shown are the skin surface, the brain surface, and the tumor.

MRI Brain II & III (brain tumor), 1989

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Stephan Meyers

Dr. David Levin, MD, PhD, and Robert Grzeszcuk, University of Chicago

Vintage PHSCologram: computer interleaved Crosfield Cibachrome and Kodalith films mounted on plexiglas, framed in a metal lightbox

24 x 20 inches

Inner Ear-Macula

This 3D reconstruction provides a side view of several neurons from the balance organs of the inner ear. The function of the balance organs is to detect the force and direction of linear accelerations. This research addresses issues related to space and motion sickness problems. The following colors are used to code the various parts of the macula:

yellow-the nerve fibers and terminals that connect the organ to the brain brown-myelin, an insulating material that covers most of some nerve fibers and speeds up transmission of signals blue-type I cells, enclosed by the terminals, which detect acceleratory motion red-type II cells, lying outside the terminals, which distribute information to the balance organs and other nerve fibers purple-thread-like detectors found on both types of cells (Each has 50-80 detectors on its head, though only one is illustrated.)

 

Inner Ear-Macula, 1991

Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Stephan Meyers

Dr. Muriel Ross, Fergus Merritt, Rei Cheng and Tim Sandstrom, NASA Ames Research Center

vintage PHSCologram: computer interleaved Crosfield Cibachrome and Kodalith films mounted on plexiglas, framed in a metal lightbox

24 x 20 inches

 

© 2020  (art)n