Tina Gonsalves: Robust Images, series of 12, 2005 - 2007

Starting with the introduction of the X-ray in 1895, living patients became subjects of greater medical research. Importantly, X-rays caused people to begin to see the world differently, to the point where surfaces were not accepted as barriers.

Contemporary diagnostic imaging means the once private space of the body is probed more often. The body becomes a commodity, a thing con-sumed, a key source and site for collecting information. In reading the diagnostic image, the doctor fragments the body, the patient becomes a specific illness, the dysfunction they suffer. The medical approach often separates the emotive, spiritual and social aspects of the patient. In the Sixteenth century Flemish painting titled “The Physician’s Visit to the Sick Man”, a physician examines a small flask of urine while attending a patient. Missing today’s diagnostic technology, the doctor relied on his five senses to conduct a ‘uri-nalysis’, by examining the colour, smell and even taste of the urine before making his diagnosis. One wonders to what degree, if ana-lyzing the clean, crisp diagnostic images of today, in isolation from the body represented in them, it detaches doctors from the actual sensory experience of ill health. “Robust Images”, 10 collages, con-front us with the magnification of these fragments. The treatment of figures in “Robust Images” is made from remnants of Xray imaging, magazine cut outs and photographs. The fragments often break the skin, allowing organs, brains and bones to leak out into the external world. The figures attempt to communicate to each other, to love each other, but get lost in misunderstandings.


The technique is a mixture of hand collage, which is then scanned. It is then re-collaged digitally, and burnt to a photographic negative. Each print is hand developed in the darkroom by the artist. In the darkroom, the colour intensities are pushed. Each is printed onto archival Kodak paper. Each photograph is then screen printed with texts and shapes, creating further layering. Finally, the photographs are re-collaged, often with some of the same elements. The complicated process amplifies the theme of fragmentation, often taking place over months.