To say that this photographic project had some “grim origins” is kind of an understatement. 12:31 takes a fascinating but gruesome story involving the execution of murderer Joseph Paul Jernigan and uses it as source material for some ghostly looking light painted images. Jernigan’s murderous cadaver was frozen in gelatin and water, then cut into 1mm sections that resulted in 1,871 slices of human body. The 65 gigabyte data set of cross-sectional photographs will be used for scientific study as part of the National Library of Medicine’s Visible Human Project, but photographer Frank Schott and art director Croix Gagnon had different ideas for it.
The animation below shows the cross-section photographs in their entirety:
Schott and Gagnon took this scientific endeavour and used the data as the basis for a photographic series that would seek to make this dissected body complete again, albeit in an ethereal, spectral form. In the project, titled 12:31 because this is the time Jernigan was given his lethal injection, they used night photography and long exposure to create eerie light paintings using the above animation of the portioned up corpse.
The animation was played fullscreen on a computer, which was moved around by an assistant while being photographed in a dark environment. The resulting images are long-exposure “light paintings” of the entire cadaver. Variations in the movement of the computer during each exposure created differences in the shape of the body throughout the series.
The result is some stunning but haunting imagery, made all the more powerful because the phantom forms are actual digital apparitions of Joseph Paul Jernigan, pieced back together using a camera and a laptop. Creepy but also pretty awesome. A strange, elongated humanoid form floating around, his previously solid muscle tissue and internal structure turned into hovering wispy patterns. The series of 7 photos are reminiscent of British painter Francis Bacon’s viscerally splayed images and fellow Brit painter, and drinking buddy, Lucian Freud’s fleshy nudes.
[via Triangulation blog]