Designs for Everbright

Jennifer Willet - Designs for Everbright (Digital Photography, 1999) Photographer Credit: Shawn Bailey

Designs for Everbright
Jennifer Willet
1999

Designs for Everbright, imagines the patient as documented by clinicians highlighting cases of unusual interest for educational purposes. Stylistically these images draw directly from photographic representations of disease and the body found in medical text books published in the 1950’s and 60’s. Each image bears a case study, a self-portrait, a body in various states of illness, injury and recovery. The figures are emaciated, damaged, fragmented and stripped of their individuality – rendered vulnerable to the gaze of the physician and the viewer. They are classified, analyzed and made static for the purpose of providing new insight into disease and treatment strategies for the clinician. Each photograph has been digitally altered; an otherwise healthy body is marked and marred by the hand of the artist, and done so as a means of revealing the power structures inherent in the sanctified practice of medical photography. Hear subjectivity is accounted for and allowed to flourish with the application of patterned motifs to the subject’s body. Each incision, each bruise, is modeled digitally using decorative source material originating form the works of William Morris. They speak to the viewer of indulgence, of the decorative; at the same time suggesting a systematic transubstantiation of nature into codified human language. As nature is codified by human kind, the human body is codified in terms of anatomy, specimen, and system.  Each motif serves a decorative function, while at the same time adopting the organic growth pattern of disease, adopting the reproductive matrix of a virus—the virulent intruder.