A Self Portrait

Source:  A Self Portrait    Tag:  crookes tubes
  
 
History has it that on November 8, 1895, a year before the discovery of the Movie camera, some German physics professor Wilhelm Röntgen stumbled on X-rays while experimenting with Lenard and Crookes tubes. He decidedly referred to the radiation as "X", to indicate that it was an unknown type of radiation.

It is said by various sources that Röntgen was investigating cathode rays at the time, with a fluorescent screen painted with barium platinocyanide and a Crookes tube which he had wrapped in black cardboard so the visible light from the tube wouldn't interfere.
He then noticed a faint green glow from the screen, about 1 meter away. He realized some invisible rays coming from the tube were passing through the cardboard to make the screen glow.
He found they could also pass through books and papers on his desk.
Röntgen soon threw himself into frenzied investigations of these unknown rays and thus systematically discovered their eventual medical use when he made a picture of his wife's hand on a photographic plate formed due to X-rays.
The photograph of his wife's hand was the first ever photograph of a human body part using X-rays.
When she saw the picture, she said "I have seen my death."
He decided to send the picture to the man credited with the invention of the electric bulb and the cinematography camera – Thomas Edison.
It is by no coincidence that in 1895, Edison who a year before launched his Kinetoscope, while investigating materials' ability to fluoresce when exposed to X-rays, found that calcium tungstate was the most effective substance.
While his 1892 Kinetograph was inspiring further inventions by the Lumiere Brothers among others, around March 1896, the fluoroscope he developed became the standard for medical X-ray examinations.
Nevertheless, Edison dropped X-ray research around 1903, even before the death of Clarence Madison Dally, one of his glassblowers. Dally had a habit of testing X-ray tubes on his hands, and acquired a cancer in them so tenacious that both arms were amputated in a futile attempt to save his life.
But I’ve constantly been puzzled by the synchronous correlations between the exegeses of technologies that assisted in the development of both the moving image (on photographic surfaces) and the x-ray image as cathode based.
But over and above a purely speculative interest I have also considered premises of technical and philosophical evolutions of these technologies from the still photograph (and manipulations of light) through which we aimed to ‘freeze space and time’ and the cancerous x-ray which proposed to ‘capture our interiors (inner space and time)’.
Interesting to consider how over centuries of ‘manipulations of light’ at various levels were compounded by man’s obsessive insecurity about ideas of self and being, thus perhaps requiring ‘frozen representation’ to validate their existence both by capturing the interior of the self and the exterior.
Hence the utterance by Röntgen’s wife seems fitting as a precursor to a quest for immortality through representative faculties.
Considering how cameras can capture both the interior and exterior proving a convergence of the philosophical origins of both ideas, there stands evidence that perhaps our insides are compressed digital representations of our outside world.