Norway-based photographer Dayna Bartoli worked as an ophthalmic photographer after graduating from Arizona State University in 2010, essentially photographing retinal blood vessels and circulation patterns. She took the beauty and intricacies of the human body’s various pathways, overlaying them with a similar beauty—in pattern and tone—found in flora for her project Florafaunal Angiography. We asked her to tell us a bit more about this special photographic process.
Where did this idea come from?
“I worked as an ophthalmic photographer for several years, performing photography based diagnostic tests for retina surgeons. The retina photographs themselves are somewhat beautiful, despite the fact that they are often depicting disease. I wanted to work with these retina images in a way that would give them a new meaning. The series gives a sense of life as a process of decay, and visually combines the anatomical process of sight with the aesthetic result of what we actually see.”
What is the process here? Could you elaborate a bit more about these “medical photographs” you have taken and how you are combining them with other images?
“The tests I performed for my job included something called a ‘Fluorescein Angiogram’, which involves injecting a dye into the patient’s arm and then taking a rapid series of photographs of the retina as the dye flows through the blood stream. This maps the blood flow to the eye and reveals any problems. I selected photos I took during these tests and then digitally manipulated and composited parts of them into images I took of plants and creatures. The photos from the angiograms are circular, and that is why I chose to maintain a circular vignette within the images in this series. The resulting composites connect these two different photographic and visual processes.”
How has working in science informed your art?
“Working in the medical field came about somewhat randomly for me, but it has been fascinating to have the chance to be involved in a scientific world that is so sterile and seemingly opposite from the artistic world. In reality I feel that both science and art have a lot they can offer each other, and for me it is always a bit magical when they come together.”