bioephemera

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. . . wherein whatsoever the hand of man by exquisite art or engine has made rare in stuff, form or motion; whatsoever singularity, chance, and the shuffle of things hath produced; whatsoever Nature has wrought in things that want life and may be kept; shall be sorted and included. . . [Bacon]

Welcome to the sixth edition of the Cabinet of Curiosities carnival. Whether your taste runs to Wunderkammern or Curiosities, blogs are treasure rooms for modern collectors of the strange and marvelous. Let’s start with this perfect miniature cabinet of crochet motifs by JPolka at the oh-so-aptly named blog Wunderkammer. . .

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You’re likely already familiar with the concept of a Cabinet of Curiosities – but do you know the subtle difference between a Cabinet of Curiosities and a Cabinet of Wonders? I didn’t, until Heather MacDougal (at, of course, the definitive Cabinet of Wonders) shared this post:

Wunderkammern. . . were early expressions of wonder and awe at the world and what it could produce, and curiosity cabinets, which came later, were. . . really about early scientific efforts to master and control nature by creating strict taxonomies – by, essentially, demarcating the natural world in a “divide and conquer” flurry of examination, collection, and cataloguing.

Shock and awe, or divide and conquer? It’s your choice, but either way, I hope you enjoy this quick tour through the Wunderblogosphere – and try to avoid “Sightsee-er’s Headache,” an obscure malady rediscovered by Janice Brown at Cow Hampshire, which is perfectly suited to today’s blog-weary tourist.


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First, veteran collectors Curious Expeditions invite us along on a most curious expedition to the Mercer Museum, a castle of concrete and glass built by tile manufacturing magnate Henry Mercer to house his plethora of collections (and protect them from fire). Andy Boyd at Frikoo presents 15 Historical Events That Fascinate Us. And from Biomedicine on Display, a tour of Paris’ Musee d’Historie de la Medecine, including antique surgical artifacts:

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If you find such surgical curiosities beautiful, you may enjoy The Sterile Eye’s post on the conception and design of the hemostat.

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image from Man Ray’s L’etoile du mer, via Mapping the Marvellous

What is a cabinet of curiosities without a few pickled marvels? Continuing the travel theme, Mo at Neurophilosophy dropped by the Darwin Centre at London’s Museum of Natural History, and shared these photos.


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Designdna’s miniature bottle dioramas are intricate wonders, each a collection unto itself:

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DrugMonkey has a nice essay on Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, a bottled concoction of opium that Victorian mothers used to drug their children into a blissful stupor. Apparently these bottles and their related advertising are now popular collectibles:

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And The Beautiful Necessity notes that the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had their own opium habits, reflected in this lesser-known work by Rossetti, Bottles:

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Briony Morrow-Cribbs

Sometimes a collection of curiosities inspires hybridization, the creation of new forms not found in nature. Artist Briony Morrow-Cribbs creates disturbing specimens of uncertain anatomy. And artist Vlatka Horvat’s collage series “Anatomies” consists of mirrored pairs of disembodied arms and legs arranged in a sort of mysterious alphabet:

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Vlatka Horvat

As Vlatka told me, these “hybrid forms evoke at once the botanical drawings, the diagrams of human internal systems, experiments and things-gone-wrong in a petri dish, etc. On another level, they function as puzzling choreographies on paper of fragmented body parts.” (Vlatka’s homepage includes more examples of her work.)

Taxidermy is a traditional mainstay of a curiosity cabinet – and Kira Askaroff presents a tour of the best of hybrid taxidermy in Hybrid Animal Taxidermy at Digital Arts MA blog. This post is not to be missed!

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Tucked in this little corner of the Cabinet, Tigerhawk brings us “A is for Army”– a decidedly militaristic look at the ABCs. And via Phantasmaphile, artist Marian Bantjes transforms spam into the information-age equivalent of a cross stitch sampler.

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And in the DIY department, Erik Kastner’s Spell with Flickris a lovely toy for labeling one’s collections – especially collections of letters!

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Who says people aren’t curiosities? From tattoos like these at PodBlack Blog to a virtual museum of death masks to vintage photos and performance art, people are some of the strangest specimens of all. Room 26: Cabinet of Curiosities, blog of Yale’s Beinecke Library, brings us these peculiar images of the Delsarte system of expression from The Popular Entertainer and Self-Instructor in Elocution (circa 1890):

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And Zenobia: Empress of the East wraps up the blog carnival with performance art as political protest, by the fascinating Blue Burqa Band:

Thanks so much to all of those who responded to the call for submissions – and please check out the first five editions of the carnival (listed here).

And if you’re still itching for more curiosity, I recommend you
build your own flea circus
– or consider hosting this carnival! Have a great week!

Comments

  1. #1 sterileeye
    April 28, 2008

    Nice carnival! Haven’t seen it before.

    Thanks for including my post!

  2. #2 Janice Brown
    April 28, 2008

    Jessica,

    You did an amazing job of compiling the Carnival of Curiosities this month, kudos! The best part is to discover YOUR blog. Simply amazing!

    Janice

  3. #3 Zuska
    April 28, 2008

    Great carnival! The Mercer Museum really is worth seeing if you are in the area. Another great Philly-area curiosity collection is the Mutter Museum in downtown Philly. Preserved anatomical and pathological specimens. The pickled fetuses are especially noteworthy. It used to be a real teaching tool for doctors in the past.

  4. #4 PhysioProf
    April 28, 2008

    Nice carnival, Jessica! I especially like the Rossetti.

  5. #5 n n
    April 28, 2008

    lovely! there’s so much to read – to see!

    you’ve done a wonderful job, j!

    love,
    nicole

  6. #6 peacay
    April 28, 2008

    Damn you and your time destroying gathering of compulsory links! Must.not.click.

  7. #7 floatingrunner
    May 7, 2008

    reminds me of a personal art project i did long ago based on a short novel about a store that sells happiness, good fortune, etc.
    in forms of drinks :/

    basically same idea with a stand and bottles of weird liquid

  8. #8 M
    May 9, 2008

    Excellent carnival! I love the subject headers and the title image. You obviously put this together with love.

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