In this series, Ecstasy of the Vision Machines Noelle Mason transforms images taken by museum conservation teams using x-radiograph, through the process of cyanotype. These x-rays capture compelling images that reveal invisible layers and the underlying structures of artworks that help historians and conservationists to examine how the works were physically constructed, generate an image of what a work may have originally looked like, or illuminate the artist’s process and decision-making.

“Blue Virgin” reveals the many nails used to hold together a Medieval wood Madonna sculpture. This work suggests a fusion of the image of the Virgin with the crucified body of Christ and evokes the tradition of Madonna paintings cloaked in Marian blue. 

“Blue Venus” reveals a double portrait beneath the painting of “Venus with a Mirror”, a classic meta-image which employs the mirror as a device to include the viewer in the painting. In this context the mirror reminds us of painting’s role in the development of photographic thinking and the way in which these two art forms share a history of representation that continue to influence each other to this day.  

Noelle Mason (b. 1977, USA) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is about the subtle seductiveness of power facilitated by systems of visual and institutional control. Noelle's work has been shown at the Ringling Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece, and at Phest International Festival of Photography in Monopi, Italy. She is the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist Grant, Jerome fellowship, the Florida Prize for Contemporary Art, the Southern Prize and most recently the LensCulture Art Photography Award, the PHmuseum Grant Prize, the Center Sante Fe Director’s Choice Award and the Female in Focus award from the British Journal of Photography.