The idea for Inside Terrorism: The X-Ray Project began to coalesce in my mind in 2002 as a personal response to terrorism and to my discomfort with the way terrorism has been justified in some circles. This is a documentary of survivors of terrorism.
Much like photographer Mathew Brady documented the Civil War, people in emergency rooms today are documenting the effects of terrorism. The exhibit is another form of "straight" photography - that is photographs made with an unaltered spectrum of light. With that technology, we are able to look inside terrorism.
Artists have always commented on war and violence. Goya’s portfolio, The Disasters of War, is perhaps the most graphic, but there are examples from the ancient Greeks through Picasso’s Guernica and beyond. And almost as soon as it became technically possible, the studio of photographer Mathew Brady made a record of the Civil War, including hundreds of images of soldiers in battle and in death. This tradition has continued throughout every conflict to the present day.
Photography is a way of making an image by drawing with the very light that the objects reflect, so when we look at photographs from the Civil War battlefield of Antietam, we see something very close to the horror of the scenes as they appeared to the photographer. We see records of actual events.
Modern medicine draws not with the visible light spectrum that we use in photography, but with electro-magnetic radiation - X-rays and CT scans – and with this we can see inside the human body.
Apart from the relentless need to see reality, artists also want to comment upon it. In the early part of the 20th century, artists began to piece together common objects that didn’t belong together, examining new meanings from the new combinations. Marcel DuChamp famously mounted a bicycle wheel onto a footstool, rendering them both useless. These were thought pieces, verbal and visual jokes.
The X-rays and CT scans in this exhibit are new ways to make figurative images and portraits. They represent life in the modern cross-section of these artistic traditions – both the desire to observe and describe reality with the most modern techniques available, and the need to think and talk about it. All of these images are the by-products of terrorism, which is a war on a civilian population. Terrorists pack their bombs with common objects – hex nuts, bolts, nails, watches – all meant for peaceful, utilitarian purposes. By blasting them into human beings, they create the madness of our times.