Thursday, May 9

Take An Acid Trip Into Your Body

Teeth Looking upward from inside the mouth.

In the course of developing sophisticated imaging techniques for peering into the human body, Hong Kong-based radiologist Dr. Kai-hung Fung discovered something within himself: an artist.

The discovery happened when Fung was asked by surgeons to generate 3-D images to allow them to visualize complex anatomies prior to surgery. Beginning with CT scans that show slices of organs at different depths, Fung stacked the slices into a single image and developed a way to indicate changes in depth with contour lines similar to those on a topographic map.

Adding “millions of colors and the infinite combination of different shades of colors can be more informative than the simple steps of greyscale,” Fung wrote in an email about how he came up with the idea.

The color added more than mere data. A few years ago a CT scan of a woman’s nose, which resembled an iridescent orchid from a distant planet, sparked an insight. Medical images could be art as well as science. “She had a very straight nasal septum and wavy maxillary sinuses ... the anatomy was exceptionally beautiful,” Fung wrote. “What Lies Behind Our Nose” went on to tie for first place in the 2007 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge. National Science Foundation. Dr. Fung’s art career took off. His visually stunning diagnostic images have been published, exhibited and awarded more prizes, including “Most Psychedelic Images in Science” (2011) from Discover magazine.

But Dr. Fung’s amplifications of CT and MRI scans are more than just groovy wall posters. His “4-D visualizations” (short 3-D videos) aid surgeons by “showing changing perspectives and relative relationships of various anatomical structures. He compares his anatomical views from inside the body to scenes from the science fiction film “Fantastic Voyage,” but with real data.

Like a photographer who prefers manual settings to “point and shoot,” Fung says that instead of using commercial 3-D medical imaging software, “I started to generate my own mapping algorithms and created various color spectra for representing the data … The Rainbow Technique and the 3D/4D color MoirĂ© art that I pioneered were discovered by accident and through … careful observations when I was experimenting. ... They were in fact image artifacts created by the software.”

Riffing on these accidents and creatively tweaking the settings, Dr. Fung has pushed radiology into the realm of fine art. Dr. Fung’s aesthetic approach to radiology doesn’t stop with medical imagery. Currently, he is working with data supplied by artist and nature photographer Dr. Gary Yeoh to produce 3-D CT images of flowers and biological specimens.

The roof of the 4th ventricle of the brain.

The blood vessels inside the brain with the skull base as background.

A virtual view inside the left ventricle looking towards the heart valves.

A hole in decaying tooth in the lower set of teeth.

Stress lines cutting through the head.

An inside view of the left nostril.

The flesh and shell of a live whelk and a clam illustrating evolution and problem-solving in nature.

What a psychedelic trip through tissue and bone that was hey kids?

I used to work on CT and MRI scanners here in CA and before Dr. Kai-hung Fung came up with this method other scientists and doctors were working on similar models. That was in the 1980’s however and they have come a long way.

Software and hardware wise they do a lot of things with scanners that they never could have done before. Many heart procedures that involved surgery are now done on scanners with no heart dyes and common X-ray methods just get better. I’m happy to see a new art form come out of something that can save our lives and still look like Fine Art.

And, I get to say things like “acid trip,” “Psychedelic,” “groovy” and other cool stuff.

Keep On Bloggin’!

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I hope you like the geekiness of my Wonderland. This blog has been around for a long time and used to be a MySpace until I moved it over to Blogger. I wrote about a plethora of subjects and still post here today. Wonderland has a special place in my heart it taught me so much about writing, websites, and people. I like comments so don't be shy about what's on your mind but I do moderate them so give me time to answer.