Alphonse Bertillon was a French police officer and biometrics researcher who was responsible for standardizing the modern mug shot. (Fun fact: the profile shot was included because Bertillon thought our ear shape might become a unique identifier, in the days before fingerprinting). This cute mug shot features his two-year old son François Bertillon, a hardened criminal who was caught nibbling all the pears from a basket on 17 October 1893. This mug shot is adorable, but it is also a […]
When I was a kid, my weird and wonderful mother used to amuse us by picking up the cat and pretending to play it like a bagpipe, using its tail as a mouthpiece. Her improvised feline instrument has, sadly, been upstaged by my discovery of the Katzenklavier, a Cat-Piano (also known as a cat organ) dreamed up in the 16th century.
Palmistry, also known as chiromancy, is the art of interpreting lines on the hand to evaluate someone’s character or foretell their future. The history of palm reading is uncertain, but may have originated in India in Hindu astrology, and spread to China, Tibet, Persia, Egypt and Ancient Greece, at least partly through the traditional fortune-telling practices of the Romani people. After falling into disrepute due to its associations with magic and witchcraft during the middle ages, interest in palmistry saw a […]
I’m so unsettled and captivated by this incredible photograph of wax figures burnt and melted after the massive 1925 fire that destroyed Madame Tussauds wax museum in London. I think wax models alone are already pretty creepy, but I don’t think even the Chamber of Horrors can touch the pathos of this unintentionally gruesome scene. With missing heads and appendages, charred skin and clothing in disarray, the uncanny wax models truly look like the causalities of some great trauma. I’ve […]
The Idiots are an artistic collective made up of Afke Golsteijn and Floris Bakker. They describe their work as “characterized by the use of animal material exquisitely sculpted into natural positions and combined seamlessly with rich materials such as embroidery and pearls.” Their work plays with all sorts of quirky taxidermy, such as the exposed fox spine of Thanatos and Hypnos (2011), the parrot headphones of Head Phones (Stilte!) (2009), or the slick oil drop bird in Oilbird (2008). However, I […]
These wonderful papier-mâché anatomical models of bees were made around 1875 by Dr. Louis Thomas Jerôme Auzoux (1797-1880). As a medical student in France in the early nineteenth-century, Auzoux was frustrated by the lack of real cadavers and the expense and delicacy of wax models to study anatomy. After his graduation from medical school in 1818, the young doctor began experimenting with the creation of anatomical models, inspired by a visit to the papier-mâché workshop of Jean Francois Ameline in […]