Wonder Cabinets

bioephemera

Category archives for Wonder Cabinets

Poem of the Week: Debora Greger

Under glass, a bare forest of pins held down an army of insects in ragged rows. . . –”The Expression of Emotion in Man and Insects,” by Debora Greger (read the full poem at the Atlantic)

Miniature Fantasies: Paolo Ventura

L’Automaton #06, 2010 Paolo Ventura (zoom view available here) Artist-photographer Paolo Ventura constructs and photographs miniature, dreamlike scenes. His Winter Stories represent the reminisces of an old circus performer. Above, a scene from the Automaton series captures a mysterious, half-built android. Who is the android’s creator? When and where is this happening? Ventura’s work is…

Perry’s Arcana

From 1810-11, architect and amateur naturalist George Perry published The Arcana, a lavishly illustrated, serial natural history magazine. Although Perry intended for the serial issues to be assembled by his subscribers into a book, only thirteen complete copies are known to survive today. More than a third of the known copies are in Australia –…

This little video from Abebooks is the closest I’ve ever gotten to flipping through a copy of the Codex Seraphinianus. What a truly weird book. I particularly love it when the staid narrator reveals his “favorite” illustration – a roller skater murdered by a monstrous pen. What?! The Codex reminds me of If You’re Afraid…

Nick’s Luncheonette Randy Hage Via the eye-candy blog How to Be a Retronaut (thanks Miles for first sending me a link there), the painstakingly accurate miniature Manhattan streetscapes of LA artist Randy Hage are half-toy, half-historical document – a wonder cabinet of urban curiosities. Hage’s overarching goal is to preserve rapidly disappearing streetscapes. As he…

Quote of the Day

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. Albert Einstein Ideas and Opinions, New York:…

. . . they could have. Or pretty darn close, at least – they just needed to visit one of the many European cabinets of anatomical curiosities, to see the work of anatomists like Honore Fragonard. Fragonard’s eighteenth-century ecorches were the clear precursors to Gunther von Hagens’ “Body Worlds” exhibits: preserved, injected, partially dissected bodies…

Animated Anatomies, a new show at the Perkins Library at Duke University, explores the tradition of fold-out or pop-up paper anatomical diagrams: Animated Anatomies explores the visually stunning and technically complex genre of printed texts and illustrations known as anatomical flap books. These publications invite the viewer to participate in virtual autopsies, through the process…

Alienation often accounts for a macabre sense of the marvellous. At the entrance to “Savage Beauty,” there is an evening gown conjured entirely from razor-clam shells. Antelope horns sprout from the shoulders of a pony-skin jacket, and vulture skulls serve as epaulettes on a leather dress. There are angel wings made out of balsa wood,…

Postmortem sleeping beauties

Through the end of May, UMBC’s Albin O Kuhn gallery is hosting a large exhibition of postmortem daguerreotypes, death masks, coffin plates, etc. from the collection of Dr. Stanley Burns. Medical ephemera always have an emotional valence, because they represent patients who suffered, struggled and eventually lost their physical battles. But this collection of memorials…