Tag Archives: Art

Shogyo Mujo by Joshua Harker & Bartkresa Design


Shogyo Mujo by Joshua Harker and Bartkresa Design at Adobe Max

Last week, I discovered this amazing video clip featuring a range of creative and artistic designs that were projected onto a large, three-dimensional skull. Artist, Joshua Harker and Bartkresa Design have developed a project known as, Shogyo Mujo that creates a very creative, yet dynamic experience within a three / four-dimensional format.1 If only I was able to view the skull in person, now that would be one fantastic experience worth travelling to! I was completely fascinated with this colourful, three-dimensional skull and I decided to explore the project’s overall development, the design and the concept behind Shogyo Mujo.

In reference to the Shogyo Mujo website, this remarkable sculpture “represents the 1st of the 3rd marks of Dharma which suggests that all things are impermanent.”2 At first, the sculpture was produced for the Burning Man Festival in Nevada and the overall structure including the materials were designed to burn towards the end of the festival, as referenced by Dan Cowles article via the Adobe website.


Cowles explains that the choice of the materials as well as the unfortunate weather conditions increased the level of difficulty or complexity in regards to the overall installation. In fairness, the three-dimensional skull including the projections were very impressive despite all of the previous challenges or set backs. There is a very compelling video clip on the Adobe website that does explain the overall production of Shogyo Mujo and it is amazing to see a very large production team collaborate together in order to establish a very large-scale installation.

Cowles suggests that the sculpture was designed to burn or disintegrate for the Burning Man Festival, although I’m struggling to search for a video clip or some photographs which displays the skull burning into flames. The burning skull relates to the notion of impermanence; a clearly visibly structure is deconstructed or dismantled into something irreparable. In fact, the project has invited me to explore the idea that life is impermanent and everyone will eventually die, our bodies will decay, the skin on our bones will eventually disintegrate until there is nothing left except for our skeletal remains. I know this sounds pretty morbid right now, although the sculpture allows me to consider my impermanent existence within the world.


Cowles briefly mentions that the ‘Shogyo Mujo’ was displayed at the Adobe Max in Los Angeles with a full “360 degree projection” and the sculpture received a very positive reaction from the audience. I would highly recommend watching the video clip, the different patterns and designs are sensational, they definitely work well within a public setting.There is a drastic improvement in terms of the execution and the ‘360 degree projection’ does add a sense of depth to the overall sculpture. I do admire the team’s effort to expand or push the project in order to reach its full potential.

The video clip exposes the overall process, the difficulties the constraints, the achievements and the final result; watching the development or the process does add a level of interest to the project. It is great to see a colourful, yet vibrant skull within the public sphere, this giant structure is transformed into a subject of beauty and creativity. In reference to Cowler, there are plans to create a “50-foot skull” and it is interesting to listen to the upcoming projects or ambitions from the design team in the Adobe video clip.3


The project provides a unique perspective in regards to the image of the skull through a 12-foot, three dimensional structure along with a series of artistic, yet eclectic projections. I do prefer the concept behind the Burning Man Festival, where the skull would be burnt or destroyed through fire, although the execution at the Adobe Max was suburb! The project also provides a different perspective that challenges the viewer’s interpretation of the overall work. According to Joshua Harker’s website, “the project is an exploration into creating art in 4-dimensions: 1D point in space where the event occurs (lat & long), 2D projection patterns, 3D sculpture, 4D animated projections & the event as they occur in realtime.”4 This is the most exciting aspect of the project, the viewer is exposed to an elaborate project within a four-dimensional context; while Shogyo Mujo features a technical process, the artistic elements within the work are admirable!

Joshua Harker does create a range of sculptural works featuring the shape of the skull through the use of digital software including a 3D printer in order to produce a ‘tangible’ structure, as referenced by the artist’s website.5 If you have an interest for skulls, I would recommend visiting Harker’s online portfolio the collection of work is impressive! In a way, Shogyo Mujo does extend upon this particular concept at very large scale; in the Adobe video clip, Dylan Roscover explains that the digital form becomes a ‘tangible object’ that is introduced to an “analogue space.”6 The project successfully combines the use of technology and art in order to create a large, 3D skull that features a very distinctive approach towards the overall display or presentation of the installation.

Make sure to check out the Shogyo Mujo Facebook page for further details! Images are sourced from the Bartkresa Design Website and the Shogyo Mujo Linked in page.


1. Harker, Joshua, “Shogyo Mujo,” (Accessed 4/2/14) http://www.joshharker.com/blog/?page_id=4101
2. Shogyo Mujo Official Website, “Nothing is Permanent,” (Accessed 4/2/14) http://www.shogyomujo.org/ 
3. Cowles, Dan, “Shogyo Mujo,” Adobe (Accessed 4/2/14) http://inspire.adobe.com/2014/11/25/art_on_the_playa_shogyo_mujo.html
4. Harker, Joshua, “Shogyo Mujo”
5. Harker, Joshua, “About,” (Accesed 4/2/14) http://www.joshharker.com/blog/?page_id=2
6. Roscover, Dylan in Adobe Inspire Video Clip by Dan Cowles (Accessed 4/2/14) http://inspire.adobe.com/2014/11/25/art_on_the_playa_shogyo_mujo.html

Photographic Self-Portraits: Death and the Photographic Image II


In one of my previous posts, I uploaded some self-portraits / test shots that I’ve taken in a deserted laneway in North Melbourne. I painted a skull onto my face with some black and white makeup along with the Kryolan Supracolors and I visited same location for my scheduled photo shoot. I decided to assign myself with a challenge and I began to take the photographs of myself around 9pm at night, the lamp posts provided some additional lighting that successfully illuminated the dark laneway behind me.


About a couple of weeks ago, I briefly mentioned Susan Sontag’s theories in regards death and the photographic image. Sontag explains that a photograph has the potential to capture a “person’s mortality” and these explanations have invited me to consider my own interpretations of death.1 When I am standing still in front of the camera, I become completely motionless and the experience reminded me of death, I am confronted with the idea that the living body will eventually turn into a lifeless corpse and I have wondered whether death or the end of life results in darkness or complete silence. Sometimes I’ll view the images and I can’t even recognise myself, I’ve become something entirely different, the images have become a deathly version of myself, a persona or an alter ego.


The lamp-post created some very interesting colour combinations including blue, yellow, green and even orange, although I decided to change the images to black and white in order to establish my connection or association with death. A couple of years ago, I realised that the reduction of colour enhanced my association to death and my thoughts / opinions haven’t changed significantly during this particular time, this is quite an interesting discovery!


There was on particular moment during the shoot when the wind lifted my black cloak that successfully produced some very interesting photographs. When I viewed the images on-screen, I discovered at least five self-portraits that appear fairly similar to one another and they do work well as a series ,this would be another interesting idea for a stop motion animation. These images would work well as a story documenting the process of death, this is another concept I intend to explore further.


The graffiti in the background does provide a very interesting element and I intend to expand upon this project; using some other venues or locations across the city would be perfect! This is just the start anyway, I’m hoping to deconstruct or destroy these photographs in order to elicit the notion of death and decay. I hope you enjoy the photographs, stay tuned!


1.Susan Sontag. On Photography (USA: Penguin Group 1977), 15


Crystal Head Vodka: Creative skull shaped bottle becomes hard to resist!


Photograph of Crystal Head Vodka by Charlotte Pridding 

The Crystal Head Vodka features a very creative bottle design / creation that is almost impossible to resist! I first discovered the clear, skull shaped bottles within various liquor stores throughout the city and I couldn’t resist the temptation, I decided to buy one for myself. Of course there are pros and cons, So I thought I would list my thoughts or recommendations.

The vodka itself features a smooth, yet subtle flavour that tastes delicious as a cocktail or a mixed drink. If you have a sweet tooth, the Crystal Head Vodka definitely compliments the ingredients for an Espresso Martini or a White Russian. I wouldn’t necessarily drink it straight and I prefer mixing the vodka with other alcoholic beverages; the additional flavours compliment or elevate the overall taste. The Crystal Head Vodka is expensive and I suspect that the consumer is paying for the overall design of the bottle as well as the alcohol.1

DSC_113611 copy

Photograph of Vodka Bottle by Charlotte Pridding

I actually prefer the taste of the Vodka when it is mixed with something else and I didn’t enjoy drinking it straight, the flavours were very delicate and subtle, this is just my personal preference anyway. I must admit, the Crystal Head Vodka compliments certain events or party occasions and the skull shaped bottle looks great on top of the bar! I’ve developed a fascination for the story or the history behind this particular brand and I’ve decided to undertake some further research.

According to the Crystal Head Vodka Website and Dan Aykroyd, this unique brand is produced in ‘Newfoundland, Canada’ and the Vodka features a very distinctive filtration process involving “precious crystals, known as Herkimer Diamonds.”2  The product also features an elaborate distillation process that includes “peaches and creamed corn” that are combined with the “waters from Newfoundland,” as referenced by the Crystal Head Vodka Website.3

Nick Curtis from The London Evening Standard explains that Dan Aykroyd collaborated with artist, John Alexander in order to create a ‘high-quality, premium product’ with a unique bottle design that is inspired by the “Mesoamerican crystal skulls.”4


Photograph of Actor / Comedian, Dan Aykroyd with Crystal Head Vodka. Photographer Unknown

In a commercial featuring Crystal Head Vodka, Aykroyd explains the cultural, historical and spiritual connotations that are related to overall product design as well as the shape of the bottle.5 According to Arkroyd, the product is inspired by the “13 Crystal Skulls” and the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration, the bottle features such an interesting, yet captivating background that successfully adds a level of meaning / significance to the overall product.6

I have often wondered whether I purchased the actual product for the bottle or the Vodka? At first, I was fascinated with overall product design and the bottle is such a fantastic novelty, although I was intrigued by the actual flavour of the Vodka. Obtaining the skull shaped bottle is a rewarding experience that provides an element of retainability and consumers have used the bottle both creatively and imaginatively.


Facial Reconstruction with Crystal Head Vodka by Nigel Cockerton

I have recently discovered a range of online consumers that have used their bottles as lamps, plant pots, ornaments, decorations, storage containers and even fish tanks! There’s even a forensic artist known as Nigel Cockerton from Scotland who has used the skull vodka bottle as the base in order to ‘recreate’ a very impressive, yet realistic human face, as referenced by Skullspiration.7 It’s amazing to see what these bottles are used for and I do enjoy viewing all of these creative ideas or transformations.

Nick Curtis quotes Aykroyd who explains his recent project known as ‘Use Your Head’ that encourages a range of artists from around the globe to use the skull vodka bottle within a creative or artist manner.8 This is such an interesting campaign that has generated interest from followers or fans from around the world and the Crystal Skull Vodka Facebook Page encourages their online followers to submit photographs of their Skull Vodka bottle within an artist context.9


Photograph by Startraks. Photo of Crystal Head Vodka & Dan Aykroyd

I have often wondered what I would do with my empty skull bottle? I suppose I’ll have to think of some ideas in the next few days. I’ve decided to take some photographs of the bottle that has provided an opportunity to experiment with the lighting and the composition.

Overall the marketing and the advertising for the Crystal Head Vodka is phenomenal and I do admire the level of creativity and craftsmanship in terms of the actual bottle design. The product features a very subtle flavour and I do prefer drinking the Vodka as a delicious cocktail, rather than drinking it straight. Retaining a skull shaped bottle at the end is an advantage and something that is worth keeping for artistic or practical purposes, although the price is slightly higher compared to the other brands. If you prefer drinking sweet cocktails or mixed drinks, I would highly recommend the Crystal Head Vodka!


1. Dan Murphey’s, “Crystal Head Crystal Head Vodka 700ml,” Ratings & Reviews (Accessed 28/1/15) http://reviews.danmurphys.com.au/0592-en_au/DM_710148/crystal-head-crystal-head-vodka-700ml-reviews/reviews.htm
2. Crystal Head Vodka, “Our Story,” https://crystalheadvodka.com/en/ourstory (Accessed 28/1/15)
3. Crystal Head Vodka, “Our Story”
4. Nick Curtis, “Dan Aykroyd talks Ghostbusters, alien life, and new Crystal head vodka,” 19th September 2014, The London Evening Standard (Accessed 28/1/15) http://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/celebrity-news/dan-aykroyd-talks-ghostbusters-alien-life-and-new-crystal-head-vodka-9744065.html
5. “Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka,” YouTube Video, (Accessed 28/1/15) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKqjIv91Zx8
6.”Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka,” YouTube Video
7.Skullspiration, “Forensic reconstruction of a Crystal Head Vodka skull,” (Accessed 28/1/15)  http://www.skullspiration.com/forensic-reconstruction-of-a-crystal-head-vodka-skull/
8. Curtis, “Dan Aykroyd talks Ghostbusters, alien life, and new Crystal head vodka.”
9. Crystal Head Vodka, Official Facebook Page (Accessed 28/1/15) https://www.facebook.com/crystalheadvodka

Image References


Work in Progress: Death and the Photographic Image

About a couple of weeks ago, I began to draw a skull onto my face with some black eyeliner, eyeshadow and a very pale foundation. This is my first attempt in about two years and I thought I would practise applying the makeup onto my face before I move onto something more elaborate. I decided to take a few test shots around North Melbourne in order to search for the most appropriate locations and backdrops for a potential photo shoot. Back in 2013, I have taken some self-portraits at the beach in Airey’s Inlet and I thought it would be interesting to take some photographs within the city.

I began to question whether the makeup impacts my perception of death and the human skull? As soon as I create the eye sockets, I begin to realise that death is inevitable, unavoidable, yet so ambiguous; the end of life will eventually occur and my skull will eventually surpass my very own existence.

At times, I am slightly perturbed by the idea, although there are certain stages of the makeup process, where I’ll concentrate on the actual design or the application. There are times, where I won’t think about death until I’ve taken the photograph, as I have the time to go back and reflect upon the overall process. It really depends on my mood or my surroundings, as my interpretation in regards to death changes on a daily basis.

I decided to take some photographs / self-portraits opposite the train station, as well as an empty alleyway that I discovered on my way home. I decided to take some test shots and I intend to revisit the same location for the photo shoot, I was surprised with the results and I was pleased with the photograph next to the train tracks, hopefully I can expand upon this particular idea.

When I viewed the photographs on my computer, I began to realise that the images capture a younger version of myself, I have aged since the time the photo was taken. The overall concept has invited me to consider the idea that every day, every month and every year is another step closer to death.


In one of my previous posts, I briefly mentioned Susan Sontag’s publication, ‘On Photography’ that explores the camera’s ability to capture one’s own mortality.1 According to Sontag, “photography is the inventory of mortality. A touch of a finger now suffices to invest in a moment with posthumous irony.”2 Sontag’s theories have invited me to question whether my self-portraits will continue to exist after my death?

Have I managed to capture my own mortality through these self-portraits? As I mentioned before, the self-portraits have invited me to explore my ageing process, while the person in the photograph remains young forever, I’ll continue to age everyday until I face the inevitable. The end of life and the beginning of death is such a natural, yet disturbing idea that I do find particularly fascinating and perplexing.

Sontag does explore some very interesting concepts relating to the connection between death and photography. The author refers to Roman Vishnic who has taken photographs of the ‘ghettos in Poland’ during the early 1930’s and Vishnic realised that the people / civilians would eventually ‘perish’ or disappear.3 Sontag explains that “photographs state the innocence, the vulnerability of lives heading toward their own destruction, and this link between photography and death haunts all photographs of people.”4


I agree with Sontag’s theories, as I am haunted by this particular idea and it’s often strange to realise that the people in the photograph or the image will eventually die, everyone will die at some stage including myself.5 In a way, the self-portraits resonate a connection to death and mortality, although I have wondered what would happen to the image if I destroyed the physical surface of the photographic print.

I decided to take a closer look at my self-portraits and I realised that the photographs were very smooth and I decided to destroy the physical surface of the print in order to establish a closer connection to death. I decided to crumple the images and rub the paper together; as a result the ink from the printer tarnished certain areas of the images and the experiment successfully created a distressed effect.

In 2012, I decided to destroy my images using water, cello tape, paint and chalk in order to present the notion of decay and disintegration; I have decided to continue the project in order to determine whether these ideas or concepts have progressed since the beginning of 2012.


I do prefer the distressed images, as they successfully establish a greater connection to death. I cannot imagine death as a smooth, perfect or pristine image, I imagine death as a body slowly decaying or disintegrating into a decomposing corpse. I believe the images can be destroyed even further in order to establish this particular style, at the moment I’m just exploring different concepts.

Ripping or crumpling the photographic portraits distorted my self-image and the backdrop, when I viewed the images in the laneway, I noticed that the colour has changed to a brown / sepia tone. I actually prefer this particular effect and the change of colour adds to the level of decay, maybe it is possible to find a connection to death through monochromatic or sepia tones.

I have often questioned what happens to the body after death, can the photographic image portray the process of decomposition? This is what I intend to explore over the next few weeks and sometimes it is really difficult to destroy something you’ve created yourself, although it would be interesting to see what happens over time, will these images change in some way? I am really interested to see where this project will take me, this is all I have for now but stay tuned for further updates!

1. Susan Sontag, “On Photography” (USA: Penguin Group 1977) p.15
2. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
3. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
4. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
5. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15

Top Five Skull Makeup Designs


‘The Skulls,’ Photo Shoot by Gregory Martins 

Since the very beginning of 2012, I’ve been particularly inspired by the black and white skull makeup and I’ve decided to write a short review / article in regards to five different designs that I’ve discovered online. I decided to search for various makeup designs as a source of inspiration for my upcoming project and I’m aiming to create my own personal style.

I’ve often wondered the signification behind the skull makeup and whether it’s possible to find a connection to death. Is the skull makeup just a popular trend or are we searching for a personal association to immortality? I always find this such a difficult question to answer, as everyone will have their own interpretation. From a personal perspective, death doesn’t have a right or a wrong answer and I am interested to explore the way death or the human skull is interpreted / perceived within the contemporary culture.

In the next upcoming weeks, I intend to explore some of these concepts including my own personal interpretations of death through the application of black and white makeup. Without further ado, here are my favourite makeup designs featuring the skull, there are so many different patterns / styles that I admire, although I’ve decided to narrow these choices down to my top five favourite designs.


#1 ‘Gold Skull Halloween Makeup’ by Paulina Misery

This is definitely my favourite makeup style and the golden skull is very inspiring and compelling. Paulina Misery has created an online makeup tutorial that provides some step by step instructions for the golden skull makeup design; this was inspired by a YouTube video tutorial by Goldiestarling, known as ‘ BEAUTIFUL DEATH: 24 Karat Skull Makeup.’ While the videoclip is very informative, I do prefer Misery’s makeup style and the skull is refined through the use of Kryolan Supracolours that provide an incredible complexion / consistency.

I’m impressed with the photography and the dark cloak successfully contrasts with the golden, metallic skull within the centre of the image; unfortunately I was unable to find the name of the photographer but I’m sure there’s a way to find out. The dark eye sockets, nose and jaw provides the overall makeup design with a very interesting effect or dimension, although the golden, metallic complexion immediately captured my attention.

From a personal perspective, the eye sockets are relatively small and the nose features a stylised appearance, although I personally believe that these particular details provide authenticity to the work as well as a unique, distinctive style. For further information, please click on the link at the bottom of the post in order to view the tutorial.

Paulina Misery, ‘Gold skull Halloween makeup with Kryolan Supracolor,’ blueeyesmakeup, Accessed 1/2/15, http://blueyesmakeup.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/gold-skull-halloween-makeup-with.html

 goldiestarline, BEAUTIFUL DEATH: 24 Karat Skull Makeup, Youtube, Accessed 1/2/15, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRbd3tzp9xQ 


#2 ‘Skeleton Makeup Tutorial’ by Emily Benitez

Emily Benitez has created a ‘skeleton makeup tutorial’ on Youtube that is very informative and easy to follow. The fluorescent highlights, the glitter and the cracks in the forehead are my favourite aspects of the design; these particular elements provide a stylised, distinctive effect. The sharp lines, angles and shadows around the eye sockets successfully compliments with the overall design that provides a unique perspective of the human skull.

According to Benitez, the detail is the most important aspect and I agree, all the corrections create a very artistic appearance or characteristic. Benitez also explains that the “shading provides dentition to the makeup” and I believe that the shading is an integral part of the overall style. Click on the link below to view the video tutorial.

Emily Benitez, ‘Skeleton Makeup Tutorial,’ YouTube, Accessed 1/2/15, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xix826tcc_g


#3 ‘Skull Makeup’ by Catherine Nameless from Kosmetista

I’ve recently discovered this interesting skull makeup tutorial by Catherine Nameless from Kosmetista, although I had to translate the text from Russian to English in order to develop a very basic understanding for the tutorial or article. I was able to follow the process through the photographs that displays Nameless’s unique ‘black and white makeup’ design.

The shading around the teeth and the jaw line provides definition to the overall style and the photographs are incredible. While the eye sockets feature a shiny complexion or appearance, I believe that this particular element creates a unique appearance. Catherine has used the black and white makeup in order to create the bones around the neck and the chest; all of the minor details do create a compelling image and the dark background emphasises the skull within the middle of the photograph.

Catherine Nameless, ‘Skull Makeup,’ Kosmetista, Accessed 1/2/15, http://kosmetista.ru/blog/beautiful_makeup/53532.html


#4 ‘The Skulls’ Photo Shoot by Gregory Martins

At number four, is Gregory Martins’s unique, yet inspiring photo shoot featuring two female models wearing some black and white skull makeup. I admire the cracks around the eye sockets and the forehead, these elements do create a very interesting image. The makeup does appear smudged, although this particular effect does provide a distressed appearance as well as a personalised style.


‘The Skulls’ by Gregory Martins

The makeup is emphasised through the white backdrop, the jewellery and the costumes, although there is one particular photograph that I find absolutely captivating. One of the images features a close up shot of a model with some jewellery draped across her head, although I find myself fixating upon her bright, brown eyes as well as her nose / lip piercings.

From my personal opinion, Gregory Martins has successfully captured the subject’s personality and her hair does create a sense of movement. To be honest, I do admire all of the images from Martins’s collection or photo shoot, I would highly recommend clicking the link below to view the entire series.

Gregory Martins, ‘The Skulls,’ Accessed 1/2/15, http://www.gregorymartins.com.br/305504/5343267/gallery/the-skulls


#5 ‘Halloween Skull Makeup’ by Sandra Holmium

I have discovered this particular image through the Skullspiration website in a post known as ’40 Halloween Skull makeup Ideas’ and I was immediately surprised when the subject opened his eyes, I’m assuming this is an animated gif. At first I struggled to search for the name of the makeup artist, although I finally discovered that the fabulous black and white skull makeup is created by Sandra Holmium and her blog features some very artistic or creative designs.

I do love the shadows and the shading around the lips, jaw line and cheek bones; these particular elements appear realistic. The black and white photograph appears rather creepy, sinister and distressed, this definitely achieves a death-like appearance.

Sandra Holmbom, Accessed 1/2/15, http://rodeo.net/sandraholmbom

Skullspiration, ’40 Halloween skull make-up ideas,’ Accessed 1/2/15, http://www.skullspiration.com/40-halloween-skull-make-up-ideas/

So here is my top five favourites, there are so many different designs, styles and effects that I find inspiring! I will post some of my own skull makeup designs in the next few weeks, I haven’t practised for a few years, although I do have some free time over the holidays to practise and the opportunity will provide some invaluable experience!

I personally believe that the skull has become an area of fascination, although It’s difficult to determine whether the skull is viewed as another popular image or do we view the skull as something quite meaningful, spiritual or even frightening? Only time will tell, this is a subject that I will explore in further detail during the summer holidays. I’m fascinated with the various styles, as well as the artistic depictions of the skull, they’re all so different from one another. If the makeup designs were all perfectly smooth, I believe this would defeat the purpose or the intention to appropriate death all together.

Interview with Rubèn Pàmies, Kpavio


Tzantza Cerebrum, Rubèn Pàmies: Kpavio

About a couple of months ago, I discovered a unique collection of work by an artist / sculptor named Rubèn Pàmies aka Kpavio who has created a range of remarkable, three-dimensional skulls that explore the notion of ‘life and time’ through individual watch pieces as well as other distinctive materials. I have conducted an interview with Kpavio in order to discover the processes, methods and techniques that are used to create these fascinating, yet mesmerising skulls!

Black Calavera: Where did the name Kpavio originate from?
Kpavio: It means ‘skull’ in Greek and I use it as my artistic pseudonym.

Black Calavera: How long have you been working on Kpavio?
Kpavio: I have been working on Kpavio for the last four years.

Black Calavera: Is there anything in particular that has inspired you to explore the relationship between
life and the passage of time?
Kpavio: Well, I have always been interested in the passage of time, maybe that is the reason why I dedicated more than 25 years to the world of watchmaking and now I am exploring that relationship through my sculptures.

Black Calavera: I have noticed that the skull is frequently used within your sculptural projects, is there anything that has inspired you to use the skull as a visual art form?
Kpavio: To date, all of my sculptures have a skull as the base because I have always been attracted to the world of skulls and I think they are a good way to explore the connection between life and the passage of time.

Black Calavera: How do you use the skull in your work?
Kpavio: I acquire them and then I personalise them, sometimes with paint, sometimes with a denture, until now I always use some pieces of watchmaking.

Black Calavera: Where do you acquire the skulls from? are they real?
Kpavio: The skulls are replicas, some of them are old and in most cases, made of plaster cast. I buy them and then I use them as the base of my creations, some of them are old replicas while others are modern.

Black Calavera: How long does it take for you to create one of these sculptures?
Kpavio: It depends on the piece, when I acquire the skull there is a process of study in which I explore the possibilities of the piece and decide its theme. After that, I start the process of creation that depends on the complexity of the final result I want to achieve.

Black Calavera: Is there a project that you have enjoyed the most?
Kpavio: No, all of them have been very enriching.


Pirate Time, Rubèn Pàmies: Kpavio

Black Calavera: Has your practice or style changed over time?
Kpavio: Well, I am always exploring new themes and materials to work with.

Black Calavera: How has your interest in fine watchmaking influenced your work?
Kpavio: It plays a great role in my work, as I always use watchmaking pieces in my sculptures.

Black Calavera: Is there a specific type of watch that you prefer to use within your work?
Kpavio: No, I use all kind of pieces although the movements are very useful for me.

Black Calavera: Is there any significance behind the pieces that you use from the watch?
Kpavio: It depends, sometimes I want to use a particular piece, like a movement within a specific part of the skull because I want to express a concrete idea. In other occasions I use a little piece because it fits perfectly within the part of the skull that I am working with.

Black CalaveraBesides watches, are there any other materials that you enjoy working with?
Kpavio: I am always open to exploring different materials in my artworks.

Black Calavera: Are there any artists / sculptors that have inspired your work?
Kpavio: I like many artists and distinct currents, I have been interested in the work of Banksy, whom I admire his creative and provocative ability, especially the fact that he wishes to remain anonymous.

Black Calavera: Do you have any future plans for upcoming projects / exhibitions?
Kpavio: I have a lot of future projects, but time will tell if they could become a reality.

Black Calavera: Do you have any advise for practicing or emerging artists?
Kpavio: I would tell them that if art is their passion, to fully engage in it no matter the difficulties they might encounter

Check out Kpavio’s website or Facebook if you would like to learn more about the works!



The Memento Series


Photography and Makeup by Charlotte Pridding

The other day, I was searching through the files on my computer, where I rediscovered one of my photographic projects from the beginning of last year. I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that these photographs were stored away in my computer and I wondered why I haven’t shared them before.

The project continues to explore my own interpretations of death and the human skull through the application of face paint including black and white self-portraiture. I decided to experiment with different environments / props in order to create a different effect that significantly contrasts with my previous self-portraits, where I have often photographed myself in front of a dark backdrop.

To be honest, the photo shoot provided an excellent opportunity to practise my makeup / face painting skills within a limited timeframe and I randomly decided to include a black sheet at the very last-minute that surprisingly complimented with the face paint and the natural backdrops. Sometimes it’s those last-minute decisions that can deliver some very interesting results!


I have often wondered what actually happens to the human body after death? Do we find ourselves in a completely different existence or realm all together? It’s quite difficult to explain, as the whole idea or concept in regards to death seems quite ambiguous to me.

I’m particularly fascinated in the interpretation of death within Western culture and I have often wondered whether death or immortality remains a sensitive subject? Is it something that we fear or have we accepted or embraced the idea? While the subject isn’t openly discussed, the contemporary culture is completely saturated with skulls and I often wondered whether it’s original meaning or purpose is diluted through constant repetition? The skull certainly appears as a popular icon that attracts fascination from the public or the consumer.


It’s hard to tell really, as each person would have their own experiences or perceptions. These self-portraits are used as a way to explore some of these ideas and they also reflect some of my own interpretations that frequently change on a daily basis. While the whole concept of death is rather daunting at times, I have acknowledged that it’s an important part of life itself.

The self-portraits remind me of a life threatening experience a few years ago involving a car accident and I can remember my mind turning completely blank, everything became dark and unfamiliar, as if I was taken to a different place all together. I tried to forget about the incident for a while, although I have discovered that my interest for skulls derives from this particular experience.


The self-portraits have allowed me to come terms with the accident and the photographs have become a reminder of death, the overall concept reminds me of the Memento Mori. Over the past few weeks, I’ve become fascinated with Susan Sontag’s publication, ‘On Photography’ that explores some very interesting concepts relating to photography and the Memento Mori.1

According to Susan Sontag, “All photographs are Momento Mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify a time’s relentless melt.” 2

I then began to wonder whether it is possible to record my own mortality through my self-portraits? In reference to Sontag, a photograph reflects a particular moment in time, while I’m growing older I can refer back to the younger images of myself. 3 The whole idea just seems surreal to me, I would love to take photographs every year in order to document the process or the journey from life to death.

According to Enrico De Pascale from ‘Death and Resurrection in Art,’ the Memento Mori is a Latin, Medieval concept that was used as a reminder or death and mortality. Many traditional or Renaissance paintings relating to the Memento Mori would normally feature ‘hour glasses, clocks or skulls’ that were used to reflect one’s own mortality. 4

I have had a couple of people who have mentioned that the works appear similar to a Swedish film, known as the Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman; this is quite fascinating, as I only discovered this film after the photo shoot and it’s strange how these things happen! If you are interested in learning more about the Seventh Seal, click on the links below.5

skull5 Overall, the portraits explore the way death can cause anxiety, fear and isolation; they have become a very useful way to confront some of these thoughts and ideas. This is just the very start, as I’m hoping to expand upon these concepts in the next few months.

Check out the Facebook page to view additional images, https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22


1. Susan Sontag. On Photography (USA: Penguin Group 1977) p.15
2. Sontag. On Photography, p.15
3. Sontag. On Photography, p.15
4. Enrico De Pascale, Death and Resurrection in Art (USA: Paul Getty Museum, 2009) p.86-89
5. The Seventh Seal by Igmar Bergman, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050976/