British artist, Nick Veasey is a man with x-ray vision, an artist that pushes boundaries in pursuit of his calling. Indeed, he creates art that shows what it is really like inside. Nick’s work with radiographic imaging equipment takes the x-ray to another level. Everyday objects are transformed from the banal to the beguiling and the layers and make-up of natural items are shown in fantastic detail.
These works are a classic example of the fusion between art and science. The results transcend classification as photographs, having the gravitas to motivate science institutions and art galleries to acquire the artworks. Nick regularly exhibits at fine art galleries the world over. The ethereal and fascinating works have collected a host of International awards.
The artist’s work can be seen as a project that harnesses and exploits modern technology to advance the boundaries of perception and of art. Veasey’s x-rays penetrate the surface and take us on a journey into a world otherwise hidden and unseen.
Hi Nick, today you chose for Music On Walls five of your artworks inspired by music.
Can you tell MoW why you chose to create artworks inspired by music?
My work is a statement against superficiality. X-Ray, the process I use, looks inside my subjects and reveals what is normally hidden under the surface. X-Ray is an honest process. It has integrity. It shows things for what they really are. With that in mind I chose musicians that have credibility and talent.
What are the reasons why you chose these singers/musicians for your artworks?
I chose to create an artwork of Elvis, because he is... The King, say no more.
Michael Jackson represents the soundtrack to the life of anyone over 40
About Slash, I like the way he looks. That simple fact made me wanted to make an artwork of Slash
What is the story behind your Boombox and Headphones?
Headphones are cool cables. Dance music is important to me. Boombox represents retro inspiration.
Do you have a favorite piece between the ones presented today?
Definitely the Boombox. It has so much surprising detail and fascination. Old school, old tech, but futuristic. BOOM!
Is there any other specific word you’d like to say about the artworks presented today?
Yes! The portraits are VERY difficult to make. The use of a skeleton creates an interesting balance between life and death.
Why/How is music important to you, in your life and in your art?
Why – because music reaches my soul in ways no other art form can.
How – by being swept along with music, I mean really losing yourself to the rhythm and melody is freedom. To create good work you have to be free and music frees me. I value this freedom greatly in this stressful world. I was very lucky to experience the Acid House scene in the late 1980’s. This was truly liberating for me and gave me the confidence to find my own way, rather than follow the herd.
Do you have plans on creating new artworks inspired by music/musicians ?
Bob Marley and Hendrix are in the pipeline. I’d also like to x-ray obscure historical instruments and steel drums.
Can you tell Mow more about your techniques and how long does it takes you to make an artwork?
Working with x-rays is dangerous. So safety is paramount. I have built a bespoke concrete structure to contain the radiation. This building that appears to be a black box is where I now create the vast majority of the x-ray work.
Inside the black box are several different x-ray machines and a film processor. The different x-ray machines have varying outputs and capabilities. The x-ray machines consist of a head unit that emits x-rays and an electronic control that drives the head unit. The head unit is inside the area built to contain radiation, the controls outside.
Subjects to be x-rayed are placed on a lead floor or wall. Film is placed under or behind the subject. The x-rays that emanate from the head units pass through the subject and make an image on the film. That image is exactly the same size as the objects. If an object is too large to fit on one film, several are used.
Once the set-up is complete I retreat from the x-ray room to the controls outside. I then select an appropriate exposure time for the subject (more x-rays are needed to image a heavy object made of steel than a light object made of plastic).
Now the x-ray exposure is complete I re-enter the x-ray room and collects the film. This film is processed and then scanned on a high-resolution scanner to obtain optimum detail and sharpness. The digital file created by the scanner is then carefully cleaned and retouched by a small group of image specialists. Sometimes color is added, sometimes not. The result is an x-ray of unparalleled detail and beauty.
This process takes weeks, sometimes months.
Do you listen to music when you’re working ?
All day, every day. I listen to BBC Radio 6 Music as I love the variety and wit. I also listen to a lot of reggae these days.
What is the song you liked the most lately?
At the moment I’m really liking Protoje Ft. Chronixx "Who Knows" (Gregory Morris Dub Mix).
What is your favorite album at the moment?
I love the album of Lapsley "Long Way Home"
What was the last gig you went to?
Last gig I attended was Kurt Vile.
Are you a musician yourself?
I’m not a musician, but I really respect the great musicians. I’d like to be in a Soundclash “Rewind Selector”.
Watch "Nick Veasey: Exposing the invisible" on Ted Talks