Photographer X-rays classic vehicles to reveal ‘integral beauty’ beneath the sheetmetal


Nick Veasey, X ray photographer at his studio in Maidstone, Kent | SWNS photo

Nick Veasey, X ray photographer at his studio in Maidstone, Kent | SWNS photo

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British photographer Nick Veasey has taken the concept of the cutaway illustration to a new level. He’s produced a series of X-ray images of classic cars.

“We live in a world obsessed with image,” Veasey states on his website. “What we look like, what our clothes look like, houses, cars… I like to counter this obsession with superficial appearance by using x-rays to strip back the layers and show what it is like under the surface.

“Often,” he adds, “the integral beauty adds intrigue to the familiar.

“To mix my metaphors, we all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, that beauty is more than skin deep. By revealing the inside, the quintessential element of my art speculates upon what the manufactured and natural world really consists of.”

The British newspaper, Daily Mail, recently featured Veasey’s recent X-ray images, which the newspaper said are the first such images of classic vehicles showing the inner workings in such stunning forensic detail.

“My work is like an internal journey inside the car,” the newspaper quoted the photographer, “it has integrity, it shows what it is like inside, it’s another way of enjoying these fantastic machines.”

The newspaper noted that Veasey, 55, spent the past four summers using the world’s largest X-ray machine to photograph 20 vehicles, among them a 1955 Ferrari Mondial, a 1907 De Dion Bouton, a Gullwing Mercedes-Benz, a 1957 Citroen 2CV, even a pickup truck.

Veasey told the newspaper that of all the cars he X-rayed, his favorite was the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette split-window coupe: “It’s just sex,” he said. “It’s just gorgeous.”

The X-ray machine he used is at The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, and normally functions to examine new materials used in large objects without those objects having to be dismantled.

Veasey told the newspaper that it took two years just to convince the car owners to allow their classic vehicles to be exposed to an X-ray machine rated at 9 million volts, 100 times more powerful than those found in hospitals. He also had to arrange and pay for transportation and insurance for those vehicles, which were scanned in 0.2mm increments to achieve maximum detail.

“Each car would be very carefully hoisted on to a turntable at a height of 1.2m with a crane within a futuristic chamber lined with 4m-thick wall of dense sand,” the newspaper reported.

“This society of ours, consumed as it is by image, is also becoming increasingly controlled by security and surveillance,” Veasey’s website points out.

“Take a flight, or go into a high-profile courtroom and your belongings will be x-rayed. The post arriving in corporations and government departments has often been x-rayed. Security cameras track our every move. Mobile phone receptions place us at any given time. Information is key to the fight against whatever we are meant to be fighting against.

“To create art with equipment and technology designed to help big brother delve deeper, to use some of that fancy complicated gadgetry that helps remove the freedom and individuality in our lives, to use that apparatus to create beauty brings a smile to my face.”

Veasey told the newspaper that he hopes classic car owners will seek him out with commissions to X-ray their vehicles. Others can purchase enlarged prints of the car X-rays with prices starting at £500 ($665).

Meanwhile, Veasey’s next mission is to X-ray scan an entire submarine.

This article, written by Larry Edsall, was originally published on ClassicCars.com, an editorial partner of Motor Authority.

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