Phantom portraits

I’ve just found a gallery of one of my favourite art science projects of all time which used digital photo manipulation to illustrate the phantom limbs of post-amputation patients.

The images are incredibly striking, because they vividly illustrate that phantom limbs are often only phantom part-limbs. Sections can be missing, even in the middle, so a phantom hand can be felt even if a phantom elbow cannot.

Or perhaps a phantom hand can feel as if it protrudes directly from the point of amputation at the shoulder, or perhaps it feels distorted, or perhaps has no intervening phantom arm, or perhaps it is stuck in one position, and so on.

The project was the brainchild of neuropsychologist Peter Halligan, neurologist John Kew and photographer Alexa Wright. Actually, Peter is an ex-boss and I spent several years of my PhD with a huge picture of RD (above) in my office and it never failed to amaze me.

Unfortunately, the pictures in the online gallery are a viewable but a little small, although there are some larger versions if you scroll down in this essay.

Link to After Images online gallery.

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