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15 JUNE 2014

The peculiar case of the Icelandic Phallological Museum

"Paris has the Louvre. London has the Tate Modern, and New York the Metropolitan Museum. But Husavik, Iceland–a diminutive village on the fringe of the Arctic Circle–boasts the world's only museum devoted exclusively to painstakingly preserved male genitalia. Founded and curated by Sigurður 'Siggi' Hjartarson, the Icelandic Phallological Museum houses four decades worth of mammalian members, from a petite field mouse to the colossal sperm whale, and every 'thing' in between. But, lamentably, Siggi's collection lacks the holy grail of phallic phantasmagoria: a human specimen. Siggi's world changes dramatically when he receives generous offers from an elderly Icelandic Casanova and an eccentric American. However, as the competition for eternal penile preservation heats up between the two men, Siggi soon discovers that this process is more complicated than it initially appeared. In their debut feature film, Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math follow Siggi on his dogged, often emotional quest to complete his exhibition in a peculiar, yet startlingly relatable, story of self–fulfillment and the value of personal legacies (both big and small)."

Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math (2012). "The Final Member" [documentary film, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2318701/]

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2012anatomyarctic circle • Ari Karlsson • Asbjorn Bjorgvinsson • bodycabinet of curiosities • Casanova • collections • collector • documentary film • documentary subject • Douglas Mason • Drafthouse Films • eccentric • eccentric collection • Fantastic Fest • genitalia • genitals • Hannes Blondal • Helgi Heoinsson • human donor • human specimen • Husavik • Iceland • Icelandic Phallological Museum • intriguing objects • Jonah Bekhor • male genitalia • mammalian penis • mammals • Marci Bowers • Mitchell Morris • museumNorth American • organ donor • Pall Arason • Paula-Jo Husack • penis • penis museum • penis size • personal collections • personal legacies • Petur Halldoresson • phallic • phallic phantasmagoria • Reynir Hjartarson • Sigurour Hjartarson • Sin Hastings • specimentaboo subjects • taxidermist • Terry Gunnel • The Final Member (2012) • Tom Mitchell • Zach Math

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 NOVEMBER 2012

Dara Ó Briain's Science Club: A Dodo's Guide to Extinction

"A few hundred years ago, extinction as a concept made no sense to anyone. But then fossil finds and advances in geology showed that it's part of life, and a statistical certainty – even for human beings."

(BBC Two, UK)

Fig.1 this animation is from Episode 3 of 6 of Dara Ó Briain's Science Club, Tuesday 20 November at 9pm on BBC Two, voiced by Helen McCrory, animated by 12Foot6, Published on YouTube on 19 Nov 2012 by BBC.

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12Foot620122D2D animation • 4004 BC • ages of fossils • ancient artefacts • animated information graphicsanimation • archaeological materials • BBC TwoBBC2Dara O Briain • deep time • devildinosaur • dodo • elephant • evolutionary change • evolutionary theoryevolutionary treeextinction • fossil • fossil specimen • geochronology • geologic time • geological timescales • geologist • geology • Georges Cuvier • history of ideas • Homo neanderthalensis • Homo sapiens neanderthalensis • human beingshuman speciesillustration to visually communicate information • invertebrates • James Hutton • James Ussher • lifemammalsmass extinctionnatural historynaturalist • neanderthal • Noah • radioactive dating • radioactive isotope • radiocarbon dating • radiometric dating • sabre-toothed cat • sabre-toothed tiger • scienceScience Club (tv)sequential artspecimen • Stellers sea cow • story of science • Tasmanian tiger • Tasmanian wolf • thylacine • tree of lifeUKvisual representations of scientific concepts • woolly mammoth

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
05 FEBRUARY 2012

Joyce Campbell's Garden of Ambrotype Peculiarities

"L.A. Botanical is, specifically, a series of ambrotypes, an early form of photography, invented in 1850, the same year that the City of Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality. At the time, the population comprised a mere 1,610 hardy souls. The population explosion of the following 150 years into the Los Angeles we know today resembles (from an imaginary aerial vantage point) an algal bloom, or bacterial inflorescence[ii]–the visible record of a natural imbalance

Ambrotypes are negative images on glass plates which, when shown against a black backdrop, appear to be positive. The name comes from the Greek ambrotos, 'immortal', a rather poetic way of evoking the power of photography to fix forever the fragile moment. Plants, particularly flowers, have long been the favorite metaphor of poets, painters, and now photographers for the passage of time–they are our most consistent reminder of mortality, and yet our most frequent solace at times of bereavement.

Though the ambrotype predates early moving pictures, Campbell's use of antique photography can't help but remind viewers of its sister medium, film, and the attendant connection with Los Angeles as a national and global 'dream factory' (or, indeed, that these technologies played their part in swelling the population of the fledgling city). Campbell's humble backyard blooms become, in L.A. Botanical, stars. The silver nitrate of the photographic process is linked, chemically and etymologically, to the silver screens onto which early films were projected. Campbell's botanical 'immortals' have been bequeathed eternal 'limelight' (another chemical process which, due to its use in theatrical lighting, is forever associated with fame)."

(Tessa Laird, 2006–2007)

Fig.1 "Black Walnut, Antifungal, anti–parasitic, antiseptic, herbicide and hair dye. To treat thrush, candida, ringworm and internal parasites. Ellagic acid and Juglone are being investigated as cancer treatments."

Fig.2 "Turpentine, From Ponderosa Pine, Paint thinner, solvent, liniment, antiseptic and treatment for lice and tapeworm."

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1850 • ambrotype • antique photography • Aotearoa New ZealandartistAucklandblackbotanical • chemical process • City of Los Angeles • creative practice • fix forever • flowers • fragile moment • fragility • glass plate • immortal • Joyce Campbell • L.A. Botanical • Los Angelesmetaphormomentmoving pictures • negatives • New Zealand artistpassage of timephotographer • photographic process • photographyplantplant information • silver nitrate • specimenstasisstill life photography • visible record • visual spectaclewoman photographer

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
29 MAY 2011

Scientific illustrations depict scientifically important features

"As a scientific illustrator, one must be able to convey a detailed, clear and accurate depiction of a specimen. Scientific illustrations are an important part of the documentation that makes a specimen museum–quality – along with field and research notes, accession records, photographs, and correspondence about the specimen. A scientific illustration captures information about a plant or animal, information that is often missing from the museum specimen. Scientific illustrations depict the scientifically important features of the organism being studied. They often also describe that organism's natural environment."

(National Museum of American History)

Fig.1 George Venable (1992). Drawing of a Carabid beetle from South America, created for the research of Dr. Terry L. Erwin of the Department of Entomology, courtesy of the Entomology Illustration Archive, NMNH

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accession records • accuracy • animal information • biomedical illustrationdetailed drawingdocumentationentomology • Entomology Illustration Archive • fidelity • field notes • George Venable • illustrationillustration to visually communicate informationinterpretation • museum specimen • National Museum of American Historynatural environmentorganismplant information • research notes • sciencescientific illustrationscientific illustratorscientific visualisation • scientifically important features • scientistsSmithsonian Institutespecimenvisual depictionvisual fidelityvisual representationvisual representations of scientific conceptsvisualisation

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 SEPTEMBER 2008

Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities

"Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities, arose in mid–sixteenth–century Europe as repositories for all manner of wondrous and exotic objects. In essence these collections—combining specimens, diagrams, and illustrations from many disciplines; marking the intersection of science and superstition; and drawing on natural, manmade, and artificial worlds—can be seen as the precursors to museums. This exhibition presents a contemporary interpretation of the traditional cabinet of curiosities, bringing together a diverse selection of works by twentieth– and twenty–first–century artists who have likewise felt the pull of unusual and extraordinary objects and phenomena. The works on display include prints, books, multiples, drawings, and photographs, with subjects ranging from architectural marvels and blueprints for impossible machines to oddities from the animal, vegetable, and mineral worlds. Featured artists include Hans Bellmer, Peter Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Max Ernst, and Damien Hirst, among others."
(MoMA.org)

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artificial worlds • cabinet of curiositiescollagecollectionsDamien Hirstexotic objects • grasshopper • grasshopper tank • Hans Bellmer • impossible machinesLouise Bourgeoisman mademarvelsMax ErnstMoMAmuseumodditiesPeter Blakephenomenarepository • science and superstition • sixteenth century • specimen • specimens • tank • wondrous objects • wunderkammerzoomorphism

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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