Saturday, June 8, 2013

How does a painting look like on X-ray?

The impulse to develop medical imaging comes mainly from two sources: understanding/diagnosing diseases and understanding our body. However, medical imaging technology is sometimes used to study different objects. This post is dedicated to the imaging of one type of these objects: paintings.
  • Why is that? Because with medical imaging we can study the paintings without destroying them. For e.g. it is possible to know which materials were used without taking any sample out.
  • Which technology is used? To study paintings, X-ray technology is mostly used. Infrared technology can also be used, but this is not a typical medical imaging technology. (By the way, MRI is not a good medical technology to study paintings, because the paints have basically no water content.) The most important step to use these technologies was that they become mobile.
  • What else can be seen? Painters have their creative process when painting and it is often possible to understand the previous steps. It is also possible to understand the "mistakes" that the painter made before the final version. These images can even help in the restoration of a painting.
  • What are the differences from imaging a person? Well, the thing here is that dose is not so important, as well as patient movement or "patient impatience" due to long acquisitions.
There are many examples of paintings that were studied with medical imaging. One example of such study was made with the "Sunflowers" from Van Gogh, which can be read here. Mona Lisa has also been scanned and some of Picasso's paintings also, such as "The Old Guitarist" and "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon".

Recognize this painting?

mona lisa emissiograph

More information can be found here and there:
Schreiner, M., Frühmann, B., Jembrih-Simbürger, D., & Linke, R. (2012). X-rays in art and archaeology: An overview Powder Diffraction, 19 (01), 3-11 DOI: 10.1154/1.1649963

No comments:

Post a Comment