Genesis of Breath
Jack Butler

Butler’s video installation Genesis of Breath is centers on the theoretical, ethical, and practical consequences of technologically realized biomedical visualization (imaging) of the human body. For over two decades, Butler’s work has been situated at the threshold of visual art and medical science. Specifically, he has been investigating the capacity to breathe, as well as the structural development of the human lungs. The project started with a scientific inquiry into the structure of the breathing chambers of the human lung and their embryonic development. In the course of this project, Butler conceived and developed models based on visual analogy.

“We create models to represent the world,” says Butler, “and then become inclined to believe that these models are facts, real items in the world.” Genesis of Breath reflects the process of analogical imagining by digitally dissolving one original research picture into-and through-another, and uses this layering process to move beyond “the single focus of the scientific question to the deep-level, emotionally apprehended multiple questions posed by the art experience.”

Jack Butler is an interdisciplinary artist whose works offer a bridge between the visual pleasure of art and the rational demands of science. He has exhibited internationally, and his work is in private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada. Butler has degrees in visual art and philosophy and 30 years of experience as a medical model builder and published researcher in human development. He has taught at many institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and he University of Western Ontario.