Abdominal arteries (2018) by Alain Pol. As featured in Anatomy: Exploring the Human Body

The Art of Anatomy - Alain Pol

Our new book Anatomy explains how the photographer makes otherworldly images via a life-saving medical process

It could pass for some tropical swamp plant or maybe some deep space scenery, but the source of Alain Pol’s 2018 image, featured in our new book, Anatomy: Exploring the Human Body, actually lies far closer to home.

“It is a false-colour arteriograph, also known as an angiograph, of the abdomen of a healthy adult human, created by injecting the arteries with a fluid that shows up as opaque when X-rayed,” explains the book’s text.

The image may look cutting edge, but the technology behind it has actually quite well established. “Cerebral arteriography, also known as cerebral angiography, was invented in 1927 by the Portuguese physician Egas Moniz, who used the procedure to diagnose various diseases of the brain,” says our new book. “Since then the technique has become a mainstay of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), using an iodine-based fluid to make blood show up on scans.

Against the pale vertebrae of a clearly visible spinal column, the image above delineates the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys, spleen and liver.

However, this particular image, which is generated using X-rays rather than MRI, isn’t just a simple, medical scan. “Pol adds false colour for additional contrast, using it to create striking images of the body’s internal workings whose unearthly qualities make them popular printable downloads that can even grace smartphone cases.” Now that’s speaking from the heart. 


Anatomy: Exploring the Human Body
Anatomy: Exploring the Human Body

For more incredible images of our bodies, from ancient times right up to the present day, get a copy of Anatomy here.