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. Transportation

    Do Driverless Cars Need Their Own Roads Around Manhattan?

    A concept for AV expressways promises to reduce travel times, but falls into an old trap of car-centric planning.

  2. Videos

    5 Ways to Seriously Battle Traffic

    So long as cars are among us, road pricing, ramp meters, and diamond-shaped intersections can mitigate horrendous commutes, a new video explains.

  3. Design

    What's Inside a Neighborhood in a Box?

    On the outskirts of New York City, a new housing model aimed at Millennials asks: What is city living?

  4. Design

    Where Edmonton Goes Next

    The city that hosted this year’s Habitat for Humanity build also wants to create a downtown that attracts people to stay around after the Alberta oil boom has faded.

  5. Equity

    Why Jimmy Carter Believes Housing Is a Basic Human Right

    Richard Florida talks to the former president about housing, Habitat for Humanity, and how government assistance enabled their current success.