Tipu’s (or Tippoo’s) Tiger is a life-sized wooden mechanical organ made around 1793, depicting a tiger mauling a man in European clothing. When the crank is turned, a hidden mechanism causes the man’s arm to goes up and down, and plays his wails of agony along the growls of the tiger. Under a flap on the tiger’s body there is also a small pipe organ, which can play 18 notes.
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 […]
I know very little about these wonderful objects, but Obsolete, a combination antiques shop and contemporary art gallery in Venice, California, claims that they are World War Two parachute crash test dummies. The images are taken from Obsolete’s Facebook page, where it also says each dummy weighs up to 225lbs. I’d love to know more about these splendid models and their history, but information is surprisingly scarce. Here is a great history of the parachute, for example, but there is […]
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the preserved skins of exotic animals from faraway lands were brought back to Europe by explorers. The hides would be handed over to taxidermists whose job it was to prepare them for display by stuffing the skins and giving them a life-like appearance. However, the taxidermists often just had to guess at the shape and appearance of these unfamiliar animals based on crude sketches and descriptions, resulting in grotesque physical distortions which would […]
I was recently in Edinburgh for the really incredible Sensualising Deformity conference, and while there I was reminded of my one of my favorite museum objects, in the National Museum of Scotland: the mysterious little coffins of Arthur’s Seat. In 1836, five boys were hunting rabbits on the north-eastern slopes of Arthur’s Seat, the main peak in the group of hills in the center of Edinburgh. In a small cave in the crags of the hill they stumbled across seventeen […]