M-R-I meets A-R-T

Angela Palmer, Self Portrait 1

When most people get an MRI or CT scan it’s a pretty passive and occasionally uncomfortable proposition. However, when Angela Palmer undergoes these procedures she does something quite unexpected, she creates art. MRI and CT scanning are used to image every part of the human body and with the aid of contrasting agents elucidate finer structures, like blood vessels. Ms. Palmer uses the detail gleaned from MRI and CT scan images as the jumping point for her art. She etches these features on planes of glass layer by layer. Ms. Palmer describes her process in the following manner,

“This technique allows me to use the scientific anatomy of the human body stripped of its recognisable features.”

She recently produced a piece exhibited at Waterhouse & Dodd in London. Based off of 2500 images taken with a CT scanner of a mummified toddler. The piece, which consists of stacked ink drawings on 111 pieces of glass, is a haunting look into the past and into the human body. Adding another dimension to the sculpture, Angela used sycamore as its base, which is a wood that was commonly used by the ancient Egyptians.

Angela Palmer, The Ashmolean Mummy Boy 3 (lying on his back)

Angela Palmer’s work is very fascinating as it explores the inner forms that comprise the human body. Most people have an innate disconnect with these forms because they’re not readily perceived. The body consists of compartmentalized systems that join to form a continuity; this is evident in the numerous medical specialties that exist. Using MRI and CT scanning one can image the entire body, but never all at once. The complexities of entire systems are stratified to aid our understanding. However the stratification, in and of itself, is a man-made creation that serves to unnaturally divide the human body. This where the brilliance of Ms. Palmer’s work comes to light, by combining these discretized planes she contextualizes these relatively alien contours and features into a medium that her viewers can relate to and on a subconscious level recognize.


For more information about Angela Palmer’s work head to her website.
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About Dapper Alchemist

The Dapper Alchemist is an amalgam of my interests in science, design and (men's) fashion.


  1. I have worked with medical imaging centers for a number of years and found this M-R-I Meets A-R-T article fascinating!

  2. sebastianabrahamsson

    Very interesting post, and interesting to read what others have to say about this mummy. The mummy and Angela Palmer’s exhibition is the focus of my doctoral thesis that I am working on at Oxford Uni. Did you go to see the exhibition too?


  3. The Dapper Alchemist

    Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to see the exhibition. I would love to hear your thoughts on both the mummy and Ms. Palmer’s work. If you would like to write a post, please let me know.

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