Tag Archives: Death

Blogging 101: Introduction to Craniophiles and New Explorations

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Image Citation: Spoilheap Archaeology

You’re properly wondering, what is today’s agenda? I’m glad you are here, as I have another fascinating subject to share and reflect that’ll hopefully ease your curious minds! As part of the blogging 101 course, today’s assignment involves exploring a particular comment that I’ve written for a fascinating or intriguing blog post.

As you may have guessed by now, I have a curiosity for skulls and I’ve recently followed an interesting blog known as Craniophiles that presents the cultural, artistic and historical explorations of the human skull. If you are a dedicated skull enthusiast, you’ll absolutely love reading this blog, trust me! Don’t forget to check out the link below,

https://craniophiles.wordpress.com

Differences between male and female skulls

Craniophiles have released an engaging post that distinguishes the differences between the male and the female skull. These distinctive elements identifies the gender including the teeth, jaw line and eye sockets. According to Craniophiles, the male skull features a sharp, defined jawline and brow bridge in comparison to the female skull that presents a circular structure or definition including the eye sockets.1

The post inspired me to undertake some further research through the Internet in order to understand the differences. According to Nital Jain, the female skull does feature a circular or round forehead, while the male skull predominately features wider cheekbones, a defined brow line and a prominent “nasal spine.”2 So where do we go from here?

Latest observations

The article posted by Craniophiles invited me to consider whether the skull or the subject of death is depicted in the male or the female form? Throughout the years, I’ve discovered masculine representations of the skull as black and white t-shirt designs or merchandise, however there are colourful and feminine sugar skull designs within the contemporary culture. I’ve wondered whether there is an artist who has considered drawing a distinctive male or female skull? This is an interesting question that I’ll need to examine further, don’t worry I will return with the answer!

These are two examples anyway, as there are plenty of other depictions of death and the human skull across different cultures. In regards to my recent observations, the European and Mexican representations of the skull appear to be significantly popular within the contemporary sphere. According to, María Herrera-Sobek, the Grim Reaper is often portrayed as a masculine figure within America and Europe, while Mexico features La Santa Muerte, who is recognised as the “Saint of Death” that features feminine characteristics.3

Revisiting previous explorations

Are you curious to discover an interesting fact? About three to four months ago, I started writing a blog post exploring male and female skull makeup designs in order to identify whether the interpretation of death varies depending on the person’s gender. There were some interesting arguments relating to this particular subject and I definitely required additional time time to digest all of the information.

I’ll have to return to the post and complete the blog post once and for all. Discovering new articles or posts can provide new ideas and perspectives that inspire me to explore new elements or revisit old territories. Now you’ve reached the end but the journey doesn’t end here, I shall return with another fascinating post in the next few days.

References

1. Craniofiles, “How to Put a Name to a Face, Part 2 Gender,” https://craniophiles.wordpress.com/page/3/ (Accessed 17/7/15)
2. Nitul Jain, Textbook of Forensic Odontology (Bangladesh: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd, 2013) p.20
3. María Herrera-Sobek, Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopaedia of Cultural Traditions, Volume 1 (California: ABC-CLIO, 2012) p.666  


Day Four, Blogging 101: Identify your Audience, Exploring New Elements

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This particular assignment encouraged me to examine the audience, demographic and the readers who may visit the blog. This is a very interesting exercise that involves writing for an intended audience or reader in mind, although I dedicated two days to brainstorming in order to determine, who is reading Black Calavera?

While I don’t have a particular person in mind, I hope to share the research I’ve undertaken over the past few years with the outside world. Now that I’ve switched to my focused state of mind, I would imagine the ideal reader as a skull enthusiast or an artist with a strong interest for skulls.

The second component involves introducing a new element to the blog and I wondered whether there is something new I can possibly explore that is different to what I’m familiar or comfortable with. I was intrigued to explore illustration or drawing that is something that I haven’t practised for about a year now. For two whole days, I sat beneath the heater with a pencil and an old sketch book that was recently discovered in the bottom of a cardboard box; this basically summaries the length of time I haven’t practised my sketching.

With two to three attempts, a sugar skull illustration was finally created! I can be rather picky, although the objective of the exercise involved experimenting with a different medium and the test determined that I can push beyond my comfort zone.  With additional practise and persistence, the sugar skull illustrations will improve over time. This is the starting point anyway and the sketchbook will hopefully provide new ideas for upcoming projects.

Why Sugar Skulls?

The designs are incredibly inspiring and there is a fascinating cultural association with the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival that is unbelievably admirable and highly creative. For those who are unfamiliar with the Day of the Dead, this vibrant celebration welcomes the spirits from deceased friends and relatives through decorative altars, sugar skulls and other creative events, as referenced by Regina.M.Marchi.1

The sugar skulls are highly colourful, although I’m intrigued to explore the decorative designs in black and white. Another fascinating subject, is the interpretation of death and how would one describe this ambiguous subject? This is something I’ve questioned over and over again, although death is one of those mysterious occurrences that is a natural process of life, although the thought is relatively daunting at times.

I’ve actually awakened from a good night’s rest and realised that I perceive the world through my own point of view and one day that’ll eventually disappear, when death approaches. This is actually difficult to explain, although I experienced a sudden wave of anxiety when I realised that there is an ending, there are some things in life that are unavoidable and death is one of them.

So where do we go from here? Good question, well I would love to explore how others interpret death, perhaps this’ll transform into an exciting new project, you’ll have to wait and see.

Reference

1.Regina.M.Marchi, Day of the Dead USA, The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon (USA:Rutgers University Press) p.26 


Day Three, Blogging 101 Continued: These Top Five Blogs are Absolutely killer!

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I’m back ready to write another post and I would love to share a few of my favourite blogs on WordPress. As you may have guessed by now, I’m participating in the Blogging 101 course that has enabled me to re-evaluate the purpose and the significance behind Black Calavera. This particular exercise for the week involved writing a post in regards to my favourite topics or blogs that is exciting because I thoroughly enjoy browsing through my reader and discovering new posts, articles or reviews. Here they are, starting with number one.

#1 The Year of the Halloween 

If you haven’t visited this blog and you have an interest for horror, remember to check out this site! Eva Halloween is the author of the blog who posts a range of fascinating articles relating to Halloween, horror and paranormal activities. I throughly enjoy reading the makeup tutorials, DIY instructions and costume competitions that are definitely inspiring and creative. At a young age, I developed a fascination for horror and The Year of the Halloween is the perfect match! There are so many different articles to read through and the different subjects are seriously fascinating.

http://theyearofhalloween.com/

#2 Horrorpedia 

There’s nothing I love more than a scary horror film or a cheesy b-grade horror movie. Well lucky for me, there’s Horrorpedia that presents a range of fascinating and entertaining reviews in regards to classic horror films, international blockbusters, and independent cinema. The list doesn’t stop here, Horrorpedia also includes other artistic influences including music, literature and digital media that explore the exciting world of horror. This is a really resourceful site and there are plenty of trailers, interviews and video clips to watch for all of your horror needs.

Plus there’s a section dedicated to the “worst horror movies of all time” with a large selection of the most outrageous z-grade films I’ve ever seen! This is definitely the highlight of Horrorpedia, if you love watching those kind of films that are so bad they’re good, you will absolutely love this section.

http://horrorpedia.com/

#3 Parlour of Horror 

I was immediately intrigued by the Parlour of Horror that features reviews in regards to literature, cinema, art and real life events. My favourite posts are the film reviews relating to classic horror and new releases that I can definitely add these to my list of movies to watch. The site also features some fascinating posts relating to horror art, where I discover artists, photographers and writers who explore dark and sinister subject matter.  There is a great deal of inspiring and engaging information to read through and if you’re interested in horror, I would definitely recommend the Parlour of Horror.

https://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com/

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Image One: Fieldey, Día de los muertos zombie Kurt Cobain

#4 Fieldey

Now you’re in for a real treat, as a Fieldey is a contemporary artist who creates the most inspiring skateboard and surfboard designs. They’re colourful, artistic and captivating; the designs feature extraordinary detail and aesthetics that provides me with the urge to browse through the entire collection! Of course, my favourite works are the Day of the Dead designs, if you’re a skull enthusiast you’ll absolutely love Fieldey’s collection of skateboards and surfboards. The site also features commissions, tutorials and a wicked gallery full of inspiring works.

https://fieldey.wordpress.com/

#5 Craniophiles

Last but not least, is Craniophiles that is right up my alley! This marvellous site delivers a series of blog posts that examine the human skull from an artistic, historical and scientific context. As an avid skull enthusiast, I cannot contain my excitement when I discover a blog with reviews and articles relating to the human skull and Craniophiles features a large collection of fascinating posts investigating this particular subject. Have an interest in art or science? No problems, Craniophiles has the information you’ve been searching for!

https://craniophiles.wordpress.com/


Day Two of the Blogging 101 Expedition: What is the Skulls Project?

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The second assignment for the week invited me to contemplate my chosen tagline and the significance behind the blog. So why did I choose the Skulls Project and what is the overall meaning? This is a good question to begin with and this is definitely something I’m currently exploring.

As I mentioned in the previous posts, the blog was initially used as a form of documentation that featured a range of drawings, sketches, observations and research relating to the contemporary representations of the skull. I’m often asked a very fascinating question whenever I mention the purpose behind the blog. In fact I’m regularly asked, why did you choose the skull?

This is a very important piece of the puzzle, why do I spend so much time writing about the skull? In 2012, I realised a growing interest in the Mexican Day of the Dead and the sugar skulls that are prevalent within the local bars, cafes, shops and restaurants across Melbourne. Due to the wealth of information, research and invaluable data, I decided to create a project that involved writing one post per day for an entire year relating to the human skull and it’s relevance to contemporary art.

As a result, the skulls project accumulated a following that was a huge surprise at the time, as the blog was purposely used for documentation. Soon after, the name Black Calavera emerged from many productive brainstorming sessions of course! At this particular stage, I’m currently experimenting with different styles for the brand and the blog.

It doesn’t end here! The project also reflects my personal explorations of life and death that occurred after a near death experience four years ago. This has definitely altered my perspectives regarding the inevitable presence of death and the experiences that life has to offer. The unknown is a mysterious and ambiguous journey that has invited me to repeatedly ask the same question, what happens to us after death?

We all know that death will occur at some stage but how do we come to terms with the idea? The Skulls Project examines some of these particular questions or explorations and the overall process aims to uncover the different interpretations or perspectives relating to the subject of death and the connections to the human skull.


Black Calavera undertakes Blogging 101: Here We Go!

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Hey there everyone!

I’ve recently joined the WordPress blogging 101 tutorials, as a way to connect with other enthusiastic bloggers and readers out there. I’ve been writing for a while now, although I thought this would provide the perfect opportunity to expand the blog, enhance the branding and establish new contacts.

If you’re a new visitor, Welcome to Black Calavera! First all I thought I shall introduce myself. I’m Charlotte Pridding and I currently maintain a research blog known as Black Calavera: The Skulls Project that explores the growing interest in the human skull via contemporary art, design and popular culture. The blog was founded in 2012 as part of a university project, where I recognised a fascination for the contemporary representations of the skull within Melbourne’s urban landscape.This is where the story begins and my exploration into death’s unavoidable presence.

Initially, I used the blog as a form of documentation and note taking for my thesis that explored the artistic, cultural and historical depictions of the skull. To my surprise, I gradually accumulated a following and a response from the public that motivated me to continue writing articles and reviews regarding the current trends or styles involving the human skull.

The blog was initially inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration and the sugar skulls that influenced the solo exhibition in 2012 and the artistic components explored the sugar skull face painting within a European context via portraiture as well as black and white photography. The project eventually progressed into a series of self portraits that reflects my personal perceptions of death and mortality via makeup or face painting in order to reflect the contemporary depictions of the skull.

Well what’s next? I’m currently in the process of developing Black Calavera that will hopefully include new articles, projects and websites. The aim is to continue the blog as long as I can in order to examine whether the representation of the skull changes or progresses over time and I’m intrigued to determine whether my interpretations of death will change due to different life experiences.

My other interests include writing of course and event photography, although I hope to establish a separate section for my freelance photography under Black Calavera in the upcoming year. That’s me in a nutshell, I hope you enjoy reading the posts and the articles!


Nude with Skeleton by Marina Abramović 2005

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Hey there, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, although I have recently discovered the most extraordinary performance artist that I have the urge to share!

Marina Abramović is internationally recognised for her inspiring, captivating and conceptual performances that provoke a powerful and emotional response from the audience, as referenced by Sean O’Hagan.1 I’ve recently watched a documentary known as, The Artist is Present that presents Abramović most iconic and fascinating performance at the MoMA Museum of Modern Art.

According to The Marina Film Project, audiences queued to sit in front of Abramović as she sat completely still within a gallery space for six hours straight for two to three months. There was complete silence, as Abramović would continue to stare at the person right in front of her. This is one of the most remarkable performances to date and I’m completely mesmerised by the way Abramović can emotionally engage with the audience.2

The documentary presents Abramović artistic career including her relationship with Ulay, although there was one performance in particular that immediately captured my attention. Nude with Skeleton 2005 presents the artist with a skeleton that is placed over the top of her nude body, as referenced by Lima. The most fascinating aspect is the skeleton’s synchronised movements that correlate with Abramović’s slow and controlled breathing; the overall performance delivers a very interesting parallel between life and death.3

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Lima explains that the performance explores death’s inevitable presence and the very notion that life itself isn’t permanent. In fact, the performance invites me to consider the presence of life and death that is profoundly emulated through Abramović’s performance including the dramatic and captivating composition with the life-sized skeleton.5

According to the MoMA audio recording, Marina Abramović explains that the skeleton exposes the frightening perceptions surrounding death and the concept of facing mortality.6 This is quite a confronting piece, as the juxtaposition between the artist’s figure and the skeleton invites me to consider my own mortality and my impermanent presence within the world that is a relatively scary thought at times. The performance delivers a powerful and emotional response that is admirable and inspiring.

I know if I had a life-sized skeleton placed over the top of me, the experience would be surreal, even frightening. The thought that we’ll have to face the inevitable at some stage is a challenging feeling that invites me to reconsider the value of life and the present moment. It’s amazing to actually realise how one single performance can trigger these profound emotions or thoughts; this is what Abramović does best! 7

The Marina Film Project mentions that the performances were recreated within the exhibition at the MoMA through a dedicated group of artists that participated in Abramović’s intensive training sessions leading to the grand opening.8

If you ever get the chance to watch The Artist is Present, I would definitely recommend it, even if you’re not into performance art, this will provide a completely different perspective in regards to art and the surrounding world. The documentary invited me to understand the importance of being present and aware of the your surroundings internally and externally. Don’t forget, rent or buy a copy of this documentary, you will seriously be amazed!

References

1., “Interview: Marina Abramović,” Sunday 3rd October 2010, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/oct/03/interview-marina-abramovic-performance-artist
2.The Marina Film Project, Force LLC and Mudpuppy Films INC, 2012, http://marinafilm.com/
3.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,” http://www.li-ma.nl/site/catalogue/art/marina-abramovic/nude-with-skeleton/9280#
4.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton”
5.MoNA Multimedia, “Marina Abramović. Nude with Skeleton.” http://www.moma.org/explore/multimedia/audios/190/2016

6.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,”
7.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,”

8.The Marina Film Project, Force LLC and Mudpuppy Films INC


UV and Black Light Sugar Skull Designs

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#1 UV Sugar Skull Body Paint by Matt Deifer – http://goo.gl/mcsOEM

Last Week, I discussed my favourite sugar skull makeup designs that feature a range of highly creative and decorative patterns or styles. Over the past few days, I’ve discovered a series of sugar skull designs that are created with ‘ultraviolet / black light responsive makeup and body paint.’ These particular materials do create some spectacular, fluorescent patterns that provide a very artistic depiction of the Mexican Sugar Skulls.

While there is a limited number of UV or black light sugar skull makeup designs online, I’ve discovered at least ten different styles that feature a high level of detail, intricacy and craftsmanship. At first, I struggled to search for some of the artist’s names or websites and I’ve spent a good few hours searching for all the relevant information. It’ll be interesting to see whether the UV sugar skull makeup / body paint becomes a fashionable or popular trend, only time will tell. The black light and UV paint would definitely compliment your next Halloween outfit or celebratory event, you’ll immediately stand out from the crowd.

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#2 UV Sugar Skull Makeup by Krystaltips – http://goo.gl/K9r6Vv

What is Black Light Paint?

Before we get started, I thought I would briefly discuss the concept behind back lights or black light reactive paint. I initially researched UV makeup, although I suddenly discovered the term, ‘backlight’ that did create some confusion to begin with. According to Mark Chervenka, black light is another term or definition for ultraviolet light that is “invisible to the human eye.” However, the black light converts the fluorescent source into a “visible light” that features a different “wave length” compared to the lamps / electrical equipment within our households, as referenced by Chervenka.1

The black light is used for a range of creative or artistic purposes that does produce some fantastic results within a dark environment. David Cay Johnston from the new York Times explains that Joseph and Robert Switzer invented the visible, ‘fluorescent paint’ that is commonly known as Day-Glow. Robert Switzer severely injured his left eye, while he continued to unload packaged goods and he was confined to a dark space; this inspired the young chemistry student to experiment or research UV lighting.

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#3 Hybrid Black Light Sugar Skull by DRE Images – http://goo.gl/0U7sP5

According to Johnston’s article, the paint was used for the ‘warplanes’ during the Second World War that enabled the troops to “operate at night from aircraft carriers in the pacific.” The armed forces used ‘bright panels’ in North Africa in order to highlight their goodwill or friendliness to “Allied Dive Bombers.”2

David Johnston suggests, “ultraviolet light goes in and its energy is converted into visible light emitted by the chemicals in the paint, creating the bright fluorescent quality.”3 The technical procedures and the back story is fascinating; the black light paint is now used for many artistic, creative and inspiring projects including the bright and colourful sugar skull designs.

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#3 UV Sugar Skull Makeup by Agnieszka Grzelak – http://goo.gl/clKG0V

Black Light Photography

I’ve recognised many photographs that display black light or UV lighting and I began to research the actual process or equipment used in order to create these particular effects. Don Krajewski from the XOIND Studios recommends using a ‘black light’ in order to highlight the intended ‘subject’ as well as a particular material that will react to the black light. Krajewski also suggests experimenting with the manual camera settings including the exposure, ISO and lighting as well as the distance in order to achieve an artistic or stylised effect.

Krajewski’s article features some very useful suggestions or recommendations that’s definitely worth viewing if you are interested in UV / black light photography. WARNING: If you wish to experiment with this particular lighting, just be careful with the type of lights you are using, as there are certain sources who claim that UV Lighting / black lights can burn the skin, cause cataracts and radiation. Krajewski suggests UV-A lights for photography and this particular light source is often used for clubs or other specific environments; overall the article does provide some very knowledgable advice, it’s just something to keep in mind anyway.4

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#4 Whispering Ghost, Blacklight Makeup by Lotoff – https://500px.com/Lotoff

Black Light: Conclusion

The black light paint and the dark background does provide a very dramatic effect that intensifies the overall style. From a personal perspective, the UV makeup significantly highlights the vibrant sugar skull designs as well as the fine, intricate detail. Lindsay Adler suggests that people may associate black light photography to a ‘party or a rave’ and there are certain elements including motion or movement that can create a level of interest and spontaneity. If the idea is executed in an artistic or creative manner, the image can feature some outstanding effects, although the UV lighting often isolates the main subject, it just depends on the intended meaning or style.5

I began to question whether the UV sugar skulls establish a closer association to death? I personally believe that the vibrant patterns and the dark background provides a very interesting composition between life and death. The decorative designs aestheticize the concept of death and the skull becomes a subject of beauty. This is such an interesting area of discussion that I’ll investigate over the next few weeks.

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#5 UV Backlight Sugar Skull by Pieke Roelofs – http://photoandgrime.com/

Since I’ve explore the sugar skulls, the black light paint / makeup has become an area of fascination that has provide a level of inspiration. While, I’ve focused upon the history and the overall process, it’ll be really interesting to continue researching this particular subject. Here are some other designs or photographs I have discovered; this is all for now, although I shall return shortly, goodbye for now.

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#6 Brittany Couture – http://goo.gl/Tt5kHs

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#7 Duende ‘rfs – https://www.facebook.com/duenderfs

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#8 Black Light Sugar Skull Makeup by Katie Alves – http://goo.gl/zxcMdD

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#9 Lucy Chippindale – http://goo.gl/SVsj5L

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#10 TiffyQuake – http://goo.gl/IAZ89I

References

1.Chervenka, Mark, Black Light Book (Pittsburgh: The Black Light Book, 2007) p.8 – 13
2.David Cay Johnston, “Robert Switzer, Co-Inventor Of Day-Glo Paint, Dies at 83,” Aug 29, 1997, The New York Times, 2015 (Accessed 18/2/15) http://goo.gl/HWySdw

3.Johnston, “Robert Switzer, Co-Inventor Of Day-Glo Paint, Dies at 83”
4.Don Krajewski, XOIND Studio Blog, “UV or Black Light Photography,” Mar 17, 2012, WordPress Blog (Accessed 18/2/15) http://goo.gl/D4aSN7
5.Adler, Lindsay, Creative 52: Weekly Projects to Invigorate Your Photography Portfolio (San Fransisco: Peachpit Press, 2014) p.77