death

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Art

A Life-Size Graphite Skeleton that Vibrates to Draw Itself into Nothingness

November 1, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

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All images by Luke Abiol

Unlike the human body which is composed of only 18% carbon, Agelio Batle‘s latest project is produced from 100% of the semimetal material. The work, titled Ash Dancer, is a life-size skeleton that acts like a very large pencil. When placed on a custom made high-frequency vibrating table, the bones of the skeleton rub marks onto the surface, slowly creating an outline of its own form. The more the work rubs against the table, the more of itself is left behind, slowly transforming the graphite from sculpture to abstract drawings which Batle refers to as Ash Dances.

The piece is a part the exhibition “murmer | tremble” at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco which opens November 5 and runs through December 29, 2016. You can see more work from Studio Batle on his website, and a number of his graphite objects are available in the Colossal Shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

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History Illustration

Violent Rabbit Illustrations Found in the Margins of Medieval Manuscripts

May 31, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

BL Yates Thompson 8 f. 294r (via Sexy Codicology)

BL Yates Thompson 8 f. 294r (via Sexy Codicology)

The typical depiction of a rabbit, especially when used in Medieval art and literature, is an image of purity and innocence—a harmless puff of cuddly cuteness. Another common association with the rabbit is that of fertility, a sensical comparison when one is aware of the speed at which the species copulates. In some medieval illuminated manuscripts however, the illustration of a rabbit turns from harmless to violent, with several examples showcasing the formerly innocent creature in the act of decapitation and other sword-wielding wrongdoings.

A way to analyze these drolleries, or medieval margin illustrations, is to think about the violent role reversals as humorous symbolism. Because these animals were so low on the totem pole of fear, it was quite amusing to the medieval illustrator to draw them enacting a revenge—silly animals on the opposite side of the slaughtering. This was also a way for the artist to show the stupidity of the human who was the object of the rabbits’ anger, one who was foolish enough to be bludgeoned by bunny.

If all of this is hitting a little too close to Monty Python and the Holy Grail for you, read this comparison by Sexy Codicology between the historical illustrations and the film. Oh, and of course watch the killer bunny scene to see a modern day take on these vengeful rabbits. (via Jon Kaneko-James and Neatorama)

Images via Dangerous Minds

Images via Dangerous Minds

BL. Add. 49622 f. 149v. (via Sexy Codicology)

BL. Add. 49622 f. 149v. (via Sexy Codicology)

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Images via Dangerous Minds

Paris, Bibl. de la Sorbonne, ms. 0121, f. 023 (via Sexy Codicology)

Paris, Bibl. de la Sorbonne, ms. 0121, f. 023 (via Sexy Codicology)

 

 



Art

Flight of the Baji: A Pod of Suspended Driftwood Dolphin Skeletons Flies through the Baltimore Museum of Art

September 15, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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This immersive site-specific installation by artist Jonathan Latiano (previously) depicts the fate of China’s famous Baji dolphins rendered in driftwood flying through a gallery at the Baltimore Museum of Art. To create the immersive installation Latiano collected bleached and mangled wood from local rivers which he used to form a procession of skeletons. The bony structures materialize from a stack of logs in one corner before gradually dissolving back into component pieces in the other.

Freshwater Baji dolphins (dubbed the “Goddess of the Yangtze”) were once a thriving part of the Yangtze River ecosystem in China, but are now largely assumed to be extinct. The last known member of the species died in captivity back in 2002.

Latiano shares about his work via his artist statement:

The pieces that I create contrast abstracted human intuition with the reality of our natural environment. I strive to emphasize the areas that exist in‐between the boundaries of defined regions. My work, in many ways, is my own personal attempt to understand my place in the physical universe. I find the poeticism and concepts of the natural universe simultaneously fascinating, beautiful and unsettling. Many of the areas and theories of science that appeal to me, particularly ones that deal with vast expanses of space and time, are so complex that the only way I can truly wrap my head around them is to abstract them. It is through my artwork that I interpret, contemplate and fine-tune these scientific theories and notions on both a universal and personal level.

Flight of the Baji was on view last year at the Baltimore Museum of Art, a culmination of Latiano winning the 2013 Baker Artist Award. You can also catch an interview with him over on I Lobo You.

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Craft Design

Custom Glass Planets Containing the Cremated Remains of Loved Ones

March 30, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

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Merry Coor produces ethereal designs from cremated remains within custom glass beads. Coor crafts each bead by hand, first melting glass into a round bead, then spiraling the design out of ashes on top, and finally sealing the design with an outer layer of clear glass. For each bead she not only requests a 1/2 teaspoon of ashes, but also a picture, letter, or story of the deceased so she can develop a personal connection while forming the piece of jewelry.

Coor has been making glass beads for about 15 years, but it wasn’t until last year that she began incorporating ashes into their designs. After this development Coor explained, “My bead making now gave me a new purpose, and a way to honor others, both living and passed.”

Custom beads can be requested by the California-based artist either through her company’s website, Ash Beads, or through her Etsy. (via Laughing Squid, Bored Panda)

 

 



Art History

CT Scan of 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue Reveals Mummified Monk Hidden Inside

February 21, 2015

Christopher Jobson

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Photo by M. Elsevier Stokmans; Boeddhamummie (Drents Museum)

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(MMC / Jan van Esch)

What looks like a traditional statue of Buddha dating back to the 11th or 12th century was recently revealed to be quite a bit more. A CT scan and endoscopy carried out by the Netherlands-based Drents Museum at the Meander Medical Centre in Amersfoort, showed the ancient reliquary fully encases the mummified remains of a Buddhist master known as Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School. While it was known beforehand the remains of a person were inside, another startling discovery was made during the scan: where the organs had been removed prior to mummification, researches discovered rolls of paper scraps covered in Chinese writing.

The Liuquan mummy has since been transported to Hungary where it will be on view at the Hungarian Natural History Museum through May of 2015. (via Robs Webstek, Neatorama, Creators Project)

Update: Among some practicing Buddhists it’s been said that similar mummies “aren’t dead” but are instead in an advanced state of meditation. (thnx, Alan!)

 

 



History Photography

The Beauty of Death: Catacomb Saints Photographed by Paul Koudounaris

October 24, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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St. Albertus

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St. Valerius in Weyarn

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Hand of St. Valentin

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St. Benedictus

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Skull of St. Getreu in Ursberg

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St. Friedrich at the Benedictine abbey in Melk

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St. Valentinus in Waldsassen

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Relic of St. Deodatus in Rheinau

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In 1578 word spread of the discovery in Rome of a network of underground tombs containing the remains of thousands of early Christian martyrs. Many skeletons of these supposed saints were soon removed from their resting place and sent to Catholic churches in Europe to replace holy relics that were destroyed during the Protestant Reformation. Once in place the skeletons were then carefully reassembled and enshrined in costumes, wigs, jewels, crowns, gold lace, and armor as a physical reminder of the heavenly treasures that awaited in the afterlife.

Over the past few years photographer Paul Koudounaris who specializes in the photography of skeletal reliquaries, mummies and other aspects of death, managed to gain unprecedented access to various religious institutions to photograph many of these beautifully macabre shrines for the first time in history. The photos have been collected into a book titled Heavenly Bodies released by Thames & Hudson early next month. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 



Art Design

A Japanese Ad Agency Reinvents Advertising for Funeral Services

May 13, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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In the terrifying wake of 2011 the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, funerals become a commonplace ordeal as the nation dealt with unprecedented loss. Like most cultures, Japanese funerals are somber affairs punctuated with black and white with any deviation considered taboo or inappropriate. Reflecting on the enormity of recent events, funeral home Nishinihon Tenrei approached Tokyo-based ad agency I&S BBDO to create an ad for a trade show that would buck the trend of muted colors so prevalent in the industry. The agency responded with this unprecedented figure of a skeleton made with pressed flowers that overtly celebrates the cycle of life by introducing color and elements of nature that are often avoided in such services. The image was considered so successful it went on to win a design merit award from the 2013 One Club Awards. (via spoon & tamago)