Dr. K.H. Fung

Inside out

Dr. K. H. Fung, a Hong Kong based radiologist and award winning artist, turns digital medical imaging data into beautiful, artistic images. In the course of developing sophisticated imaging techniques for peering into the human body, Dr. K. H. Fung discovered an artist within himself. Step into his colourful world.

Dr. Fung, how did you begin?

It started in 2003 when I was asked by surgeons to generate 3D images from CT scans to help them visualise the 3D anatomy and pathology of their patients to assist in surgical planning.

When was the first time you recognised your work was well received?

In 2006 when I first published my article entitled “The Rainbow Technique: An Innovative Approach to the Artistic Presentation of 3D Computed Tomography” in LEONARDO journal (official publication of The International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology).

In 2007 when I was first place co-winner in the 5th International Science & Engineering Visualisation Challenge sponsored by SCIENCE and National Science Foundation, USA with my entry: “What Lies Behind Our Nose?”

“What Lies Behind Our Nose?” was nominated as “Best Science Photo” and “Top Ten News Photo Galleries” by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC in 2007.

“What Lies Behind Our Nose?” was nominated for “Most Psychedelic Images in Science” by DISCOVER in 2011.

What inspired you to go beyond radiology and give an artistic dimension to your everyday job?

Radiological images are mostly grey scale images. I discovered that rendering the digital data using a color scale instead of grey scale not only improves visualisation of the subtle differences in the data and the 3D appearance, but also the technique could let me turn the images into fine art, thereby achieving a perfect union between art and science.

Where would you like your images used? What do you think your best achievement is so far?
I want my images to be “both informative and beautiful”. On the one hand, a medical doctor viewing my image can realise the scientific information about anatomy, pathology and even physics embedded in the image in 3D perspective, perhaps with some guidance from me.
Alternatively, as an art lover, you can appreciate the art attributes in the same image. I think I have achieved a perfect union of art and science. My artworks have been published in radiology journals, medical journals, science journals, magazines and included in various websites including Science Photo Library.
Who are your artistic influencers?
Leonardo da Vinci.
How do you choose the image you'll do further work on? Some of the perspectives are quite extraordinary.
How do you manage to create some of the angles?
I started off using CT scan data that provides barely enough resolution to recreate acceptable image quality in 3D. MRI data initially produce quite poor results due to an inherent small image matrix size, but data quality in MRI now shows some improvement and I’ve started to make more widespread use of MRI data. The choice is actually accessibility to datasets that are of high quality.

I’ve worked with 3D visualisation of micro-CT datasets and found surprising scientific information that can be extracted from the data. Just like a seasoned photographer who wouldn’t be contented with point-and-shoot automatic mode on their camera, I choose different settings manually instead of using factory presets to create my artworks, exploring different perspectives, forms, pattern, lighting, texture and color combinations, thereby achieving a unique interpretation as an artist.

I explore the use of different 3D software and methodologies, including stereoscopic visualisation, virtual reality, my pioneered “Rainbow Technique”, Moire interference, CGI and various image enhancement techniques and apply these to my artworks.
How challenging and time consuming is the whole process?

It depends. Image segmentation can be quite complex and it is time-consuming to get rid of structures that you do not want in your final image. I even seek to combine segmentations from different datasets e.g. combining different pulse sequences of MRI scans to create the final image.

How do new techniques come to life in your work?
Are some of them accidental findings and if so how do you decide if they will be well received?

The “Rainbow Technique” is an accidental finding, discovered only with very careful observation and experimentation based on image artifacts that are normally ignored and suppressed. The same applied to the 3D Moire effect applied to medical images.

When “Rainbow Technique” is applied to a rotating 3D object, particularly when viewed stereoscopically, the shimmering Moire interference pattern is also an innovative and interesting artist representation in art-science.

Technology is rapidly changing with new equipment introduced regularly.
What's next and how do you see it developing in future?

Yes, that’s why you are seeing changing styles in my artworks as I try to experiment with new tools and methods. To be able to see the unseen is my objective and I am happy to use my 3D reconstruction expertise to help in the visualisation of various ultra-high resolution non-invasive imaging techniques, not only in the medical field, but also in other aspects of art and science.

Explore Dr K.H. Fung's collections