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Andrei Duman's Art of Challenging Perception Through X-Ray Photography

A passion for reshaping perceptions is at the heart of all of Andrei Duman’s projects. His project, “X-ray”, began with a simple curiosity about what different mechanisms lay inside objects we see every day. Noting there is no way to know what is inside a household object without taking it apart, this project taps into Andrei’s explorative personality. Beginning four years ago, it took Andrei a full year to find a place that would actually allow him to use their machines. After partnering with a private practice, Andrei first started X-raying everyday household objects; Roombas, shoes, and computers. Through this project, he began to see a story of evolution unfold. Photographing Macbooks and iPhones from the original model to the most current, he is able to retrace and document the march of technology through time.

The project has continued to evolve and his newest iteration involves superimposing digital photography of the object onto the X-ray image. Andrei hopes to turn this into an interactive image as he invites us to rethink our assumptions and embrace the boundless creativity that comes from the unseen. We spoke with Andrei about the project to learn more about the inspiration, process and goals behind it.

What was your inspiration behind this project?

The inspiration for this project sparked from a simple fascination with the hidden interior of everyday objects. I've always wondered what things look like beneath their surfaces—objects we often take for granted. The inner workings of a coffee machine, a Roomba, or any device with electronics intrigued me. Once I started exploring this perspective, the possibilities seemed endless, and I was hooked. I initially focused on electronics due to their expected metal components and connectors, which work well with X-rays.

How do you decide which objects to photograph and what makes an object interesting enough to photograph?

The first thing I look for is interesting shapes. The way an object's components are arranged can create captivating visual compositions when X-rayed. However, the X-ray process is often a guessing game. For instance, I had no idea what was inside a Roomba until I X-rayed it. Sometimes, objects that seem unremarkable surprise me with fascinating internal structures. Objects that offer a blend of shape and uncertainty are usually the ones I gravitate towards.

How did your creative focus evolve over the course of this project?

After accumulating a substantial collection of electronic creations, my main creative focus shifted slightly. During the early days of COVID, a colleague of mine became obsessed with building intricate Lego sets. His office transformed into a Lego wonderland, showcasing a diverse array of builds, from Star Wars and cars to Hogwarts scenes. When I was looking at them I became curious and wondered how Lego structures would appear under an X-ray. Unlike electronics, Legos lack metal components, so the X-ray reveals different compositions depending on the thickness of the structure. The degree of whiteness indicates density, highlighting the thickness and overlap of various layers of bricks. I like X-raying different types of objects to discover their unique properties.

The technical process of X-ray photography seems involved. Could you walk us through how you capture these images and the challenges you face during the process?

I collaborate with a private practice that provides access to an X-ray machine. The object to be photographed is placed on a metal plate, and X-rays are taken from different angles. For larger objects, I capture sections separately and later stitch them together during post-processing. Challenges arise in determining how X-rays will penetrate different materials, such as plastics versus metals. Post-production involves removing artifacts and compiling images, sometimes requiring meticulous editing to achieve the desired result.

Your newest X-ray images of Nerf guns are the first time you combine X-ray and non-X-ray versions of the objects. Could you explain the reasoning behind this approach?

Incorporating both versions of an object allows viewers to interact with the art and gain a deeper understanding of the internal versus external aspects. For example, I've experimented with a graphic design technique that overlays the X-ray and non-X-ray images, creating an interactive visual experience. This approach aims to engage the audience and provide a unique way of exploring the objects' duality.

This project has had many iterations, where do you see it going next?

I'm currently working on a series that explores the transition of technology over time. I'll be X-raying vintage and modern cameras to showcase how technology has evolved. Additionally, I'm excited about my collaboration with a collector to capture the internal structures of He-Man action figures from different eras. This project continues to push the boundaries of my exploration, and I'm looking forward to the results.

What do you want people to take away from this project?

I hope viewers will find wonder in the unexpected and the hidden details within everyday objects. By offering an alternative perspective, I aim to encourage a deeper appreciation for the complexity and beauty present beneath the surface. Whether it's the evolution of technology or the intricate structures of childhood toys, I hope my images inspire curiosity and contemplation.

In conclusion, our photographer's journey into X-ray photography serves as a reminder that there's always more than meets the eye. Through careful exploration and a dash of curiosity, the artist uncovers the hidden stories within familiar objects, inviting us all to look beyond the surface and marvel at the world's intricate design. Stay tuned for more captivating X-ray artistry that pushes the boundaries of visual representation