Nick Veasey

Radioactive photographer Nick Veasey works with dangerous wavelengths to reveal the inner beauty of the city.

It's good to know that if British X-ray photographer Nick Veasey ever found himself in a hard place, he could work for Heathrow security. But let's hope it doesn't come to that: The oeuvre that Veasey is building from within his concrete bunker is too freaky to fizzle out just now.

The artist got his start as a scamp when he tried to game a Pepsi hidden-pull-tab contest with a hospital X-ray machine. He didn't find the winning tab, but he did discover a passion for peering into the guts of stuff. Veasey built a fortified compound in Kent, about an hour's drive east of London, and got busy aiming bursts of DNA-scrambling radiation at seemingly anything that crossed his path: a bowler hat, a toy rocket, a Chrysanthemum, a tractor, a bat, a middle finger and a thornback ray that looks like it'd be best buddies with that thing at the end of Prometheus.

Veasey explains on his website that he wants to challenge our way of judging things by external appearances. He thinks it's more interesting "highlighting the, often surprising, inner beauty" of objects. That might explain why he scanned an alleged pair of Kylie Minogue's knickers. When it comes to the internal life of the city, though, that undercover beauty really does shine.

Take the office complex that the artist created above using a single human skeleton and the typical range of office products, like a water cooler and computer monitors. Based on 200 X-rays and a little Photoshopping, the monochromatic scene depicts the departed lounging on a sofa, taking a coffee break and riding an elevator. Never has scutwork looked so intriguing; Tim Burton would love working here.

Then there are Veasey's examinations of the mechanical beasts of burden that ferry us around, or between, cities. Here's a bus that he put through a border-crossing cargo scanner. The "occupants" again are actually just one person or former person, as in this case he used a fresh corpse on loan from an undertaker:

Veasey's "Plane" is just that: A humongous collage of about 500 scans of a Boeing 777 jet. With this incredible image, people who fear a mechanical breakdown while flying now know how insanely intricate the bowels of their rides really are:

If you happen to be in Manchester, the artist has a show going on until July 28 at the Richard Goodall Gallery. For all others, here's an extensive catalog of his eerie creations.

Images used with permission of the artist.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    What the New Urban Anchors Owe Their Cities

    Corporations like Google and Amazon reap the spoils of winner-take-all urbanism. Here’s how they can also bear greater responsibility.

  2. Rescue crews and observers on top of the rubble from a collapsed building that fell in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
    Environment

    A Brigade of Architects and Engineers Rushed to Assess Earthquake Damage in Mexico City

    La Casa del Arquitecto became the headquarters for highly skilled urbanists looking to help and determine why some buildings suffered more spectacularly than others.

  3. Transportation

    Why Are Little Kids in Japan So Independent?

    In Japan, small children take the subway and run errands alone, no parent in sight. The reason why has more to do with social trust than self-reliance.

  4. Homes in Detroit are pictured.
    Equity

    How Housing Intensifies the Racial Wealth Gap

    The wealth of black families lags far behind whites, and housing markets play a key role.

  5. A man is pictured in a hotel lobby.
    Life

    How the Hotel Industry Views Its Future (and Airbnb)

    A conversation with the editor of Hotels, a trade publication covering full-service and luxury lodging.