Radiology Art: CTs Capture Beauty of Everyday Objects

March 27, 2013

Radiologist and artist Satre Stuelke, MD, MFA, acquires CT scans of toys, food, and electronics.

Ever wonder what the inside of a Hungry Man frozen dinner looked like? What about a toaster or a porcelain doll?Radiologist and artist Satre Stuelke, MD, MFA, did. So he decided to run those and dozens more everyday objects through a CT scanner. The results offer a fascinating, radiographic look inside common toys, food, and electronics. The images are part of his Radiology Art project, visible on his website, as well as pediatrician offices and occasional art galleries.Stuelke acquired his images on a four-slice CT scanner used for research. He then processed the DICOM images in Osiris software, and assigned colors based on the material density.Stuelke’s inspiration for the approach stems from artist Robert Heinecken, a well-known artist who took what looked like X-rays of breakfast foods. Heinecken’s wife was a mentor of Stuelke’s in art school. It turned out the reproductions were actually photograms of bacon and eggs, but Stuelke was intrigued, he said, and “wanted to take it a step further.”The idea behind the art, Stuelke said, is the images can help demystify certain imaging procedures for patients. “It acts like a bridge for people who are familiar with objects like their iPhone and their toaster and their Barbie doll,” he said. “They can see things about how they are constructed, and it works nicely as a bridge if they have to get a CT.”Stuelke was drawn to radiology after a career as an artist and teacher. He said he’s always been intrigued by the human body and ran the physical computing area at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.“That’s where I took the step of thinking it would be a good idea to get an MD and learn more about the human body,” he said. “I pretty much knew I wanted to do radiology, because that was the most visually relevant.”Today he’s a second-year resident at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania. It’s been a while since he’s updated his site, as he’s unable to gain access to a machine to use for his art. But he does still set his sights on potential subjects.“I just ran across the most amazing art deco household appliance,” he said. He spotted the device at the home of a man who restores old appliances and has something of a museum of them. This particular item, Stuelke said, is “some sort of toaster. It’s super rare.”Images courtesy Satre Stuelke, MD, MFA. View more at Radiologyart.com.