The ultimate goal of any form of art, in my opinion, is to reveal to the audience an observation or truth they have never encountered before. In their stunning new series entitled 12:31, photographers Croix Gagnon and Frank Schott have done just that. The seven photographs of 12:31 are the result of one of the most remarkable concepts I have ever encountered in all of photography. The following is an abstract from the photographers themselves, the true story of a Texas murder named Joseph Paul Jernigan:
“Joseph Paul Jernigan (January 31, 1954 – August 5, 1993) was a Texas murderer who was executed by lethal injection at 12:31am. In 1981, Jernigan was sentenced to death for stabbing and shooting 75-year-old Edward Hale, who discovered him stealing a microwave oven. Jernigan spent 12 years in prison before his final plea for clemency was denied. His cadaver was sectioned and photographed for the Visible Human Project at the University of Colorado’s Health Sciences Center. The Visible Human Project is an effort to create a detailed data set of cross-sectional photographs of the human body, in order to facilitate anatomy visualization applications. Jernigan’s cadaver was encased and frozen in a gelatin and water mixture in order to stabilize the specimen for cutting. The specimen was then cut in the axial plane at 1 millimeter intervals. Each of the resulting 1,871 slices were photographed in both analog and digital, yielding more than 65 gigabytes of data. At the prompting of a prison chaplain Jernigan had agreed to donate his body for scientific research or medical use, without knowing about the Visible Human Project. Some people have voiced ethical concerns over this. One of the most notable statements came from the University of Vienna which demanded that the images be withdrawn with reference to the point that the medical profession should have no association with executions, and that the donor’s informed consent could be scrutinized.”
You can learn much more about the story, the process, and the photos from Gagnon & Schott’s 12:31 series by visiting their website at Project1231.com. A truly outstanding achievement in the photographic arts, and one I will never forget. An enormous congratulations to Gagnon & Schott for a truly powerful work of art. WOW.
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