The X-Ray: Technological Revelation and its Cultural Receptions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The name ‘x-ray’ was so given to signify the unknown origin of an almost-imperceptible force that could penetrate matter. The discovery of the x-ray further expanded the visual horizon of modern culture’s imagination: newspapers and magazines published thousands of stories about the new sensation in 1896 alone; scientists turned their attention to this mysterious force that would dominate research and scientific publications; within a month x-rays were used to support surgery and within six months used by surgeons to identify bullets within a soldier’s body. Within popular visual culture, x-ray machines appeared as fair attractions – with some exhibitors looking to swap cinematic projections of trains for the x-ray machine’s spectacle of making a state of interiority into an exterior image. Indeed, the relation between the modernity’s new visual media – such as photography, cinema and the x-ray – made a great impression upon the artistic avant-garde through the radical expansion of perception and reality within modern culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEdinburgh Companion to Modernism and Technology
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


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