Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seeing meaning

A while back, the Doucette Library acquired X-Ray by Nick Veasey (778.3 VeX 2008), mostly by chance..  Hadn’t heard about it, just stumbled upon it when out on a book shopping expedition.  I do love serendipity.

X-Ray is a compilation of well, x-rays, of just about everything imaginable.  Lots of images of the human body engaged in everyday activities, from sitting at a computer or in a car, riding a bike or a bus, speaking into a microphone, or running to name a few.  Sometimes the photographer focuses on a specific part such as hands or the head.  Much of the impact of the images comes from their context or lack of context, allowing us to construct for ourselves what a picture means.  For example, a group of hands are attached to what looks to be raised arms and the foremost hand has the index finger extended while the other fingers are curled downed.  What is this picture about?

The book also includes x-ray images of everyday objects such as cars, lamps, musical instruments, a bike packed into a backpack, toys, electric and electronic gizmos of all sorts… the list goes on.  It’s fascinating to see what’s inside some of these things that we use everyday, take for granted and never look at closely.   Some of the images are simply beautiful.

I thoroughly enjoyed the section entitled Fashion.  This section looks at the human body dressed in clothes but mostly shows the clothes on their own.  What do our feet look like when crammed into shoes or boots?  The image of a foot in a high-heeled shoe shows exactly where the pressure point on the ball of the foot is but also shows all the tiny nails that are placed into the sole of the shoe to hold it together.  It looks as if this person is walking on nails – literally.

Another section of the book includes images from the natural world of plants, animals, fish, bats, insects, sea shells, which again have an ethereal quality that is truly awe-inspiring with its delicacy.

It has no direct correlation to the Alberta Education curriculum but I know this book could be used to enrich different learning areas such as health, physical education, science but most especially as an art book.  The images are inspiring.

Then X-treme X-ray, also photographed by Nick Veasey (778.3 VeaX 2010), arrived in the Doucette and a there’s whole new context to some of the same images.  This book is specifically for kids (ages 8 to 12) and is an information book about what x-rays are and the science behind them, as well as providing information about what the images show us.  The image of the raised arms and hands I described above is described in terms of the human hand from the number of bones to opposable thumbs.

This second book is more for the purpose of information, and has less emphasis on the artistic nature of the first book.  This was the strength of the first book, in my opinion, as it allowed us to construct meaning on different levels.  In terms of classroom use the first book can be used by multiple grades for multiple purposes.

Go with the first if you have a choice.


Template Design | Elque 2007