Tag Archives: Skulls

Skulls, Skeletons and Tequila, Espolón has it all!

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Espolón Advertising by Steven Noble 

Espolón Tequila is one unique, innovative brand that features a smooth, delicate flavour along with a creative label that will leave a very memorable impression! As soon as I recognised the bottle of Espolón, I instantly developed to the urge to purchase a bottle for myself and the product design immediately attracted my attention. While I was tempted to try the tequila, I wanted to keep the bottle for the inspiring label / packaging.

So what makes this bottle of tequila so interesting? Well, the tequila isn’t too overpowering, Espolón does create some fantastic Paloma’s on a warm summers day, the packaging is inspiring and the overall brand features a very compelling story! The label features a range of lively, animated skeletons and the overall style does feature similarities to the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival that invites deceased family members and spirits to partake in the celebration, as referenced by Regina.M Marchi.1 I’ve mentioned these particular elements in my previous posts but I’ll briefly mention some of the most important points. If you are interested in viewing the previous posts just click on the links to Part I and Part II

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Espolón Advertising – Steven Noble

Espolón’s product design features similarities to the works of José Guadalupe Posada and there is an illustration known as the “The Calavera of Don Quixote 1910” that appears almost identical to the label; Espolon’s design presents a very distinctive appropriation that reflect’s Mexico’s cultural and historical background.2 I’m assuming that Posada’s prints would be available under ‘free use,’ this would be a very interesting area to explore or research in the next week. According to Regina.M.Marchi, Posada is an influential artist / printmaker from Mexico who produced a range of delightful prints or illustrations featuring a range of enthusiastic, animated skeletons during the 19th century.

In the illustrations, the playful skeletons partake in a range of activities or events wearing a range of outfits or accessories and Posada’s distinctive style provides a humorous perspective of death, as referenced by Marchi.3 Espolón have used these lively skeletons to advertise their tequila, although I can’t see anything wrong with this, the story does feature some cultural associations or symbology that provides context to the overall brand. Espolón delivers a level of authenticity through the packaging or product design that is inspired by one unique symbol.

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According to the Espolón official website, “Master Distiller, Cirilo Oropeza” created a brand of Tequila that was named after the spur found on the back of a Rooster’s heal and “Espolón pays tribute to the legendary bird so important within Mexican culture.”4 This is a very fascinating concept that has invited me to research the significance behind the rooster and Elías Domínguez Barajas in the ‘Function of Proverbs in Discourse’ explains that the rooster features a connection to “bravery, pride and confidence” within Mexican Culture.5

This is a very interesting discovery that definitely adds a level of interest towards Espolón and the brand’s overall history. While I’m interested in researching the cultural and historical associations related to the brand, I do enjoy a glass of Blanco with a slice of lime. This particular type of Tequila works exceptionally well as a cocktail or a mixed drink and I would definitely recommend Espolón if you intend to create a Paloma or an Espresso Martini.

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José Guadalupe Posada – Print / Illustration: 
The Calavera of Don Quixote, 1910

The tequila also works as a delicious alcoholic beverage just by itself with some ice and a slice of lime. While there are other brands of tequila that feature an outstanding flavour, Espolón is exceptional for the price and it’s very affordable, especially for the overall quality! So if you’re planning a dinner party and you need Tequila for a dozen Paloma’s, this is definitely the one to go for!

According to Espolon’s website, the tequila features “100% pure agave” that is created / distilled in “Los Altos, Mexico.” From a personal opinion, I do enjoy the Blanco compared the Respado that is aged for several months in an “oak barrel,” as referenced by Espolón.6 This is just my personal preference and I prefer something with a smooth flavour or texture. If you’re new to tequila, I would recommend the Blanco to start off with, if you’re searching for something with a strong, full-bodied flavour then the Respado is an excellent choice.

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Espolón features some very compelling, yet distinctive advertisements that are very admirable and the designs are created by Steven Noble. Last but not least, I thought I would briefly mention my recent discovery in regards to my statistics on my WordPress profile.

This year so far, I’ve received 482 views for my previous post in regards to Espolón tequila that ranked number six on my top posts for 2015. This is a very interesting conclusion that demonstrates Espolón’s increase in popularity. Perhaps there is a demand for skulls and tequila, it’ll be interesting to observe the statistics overtime in order to view any significant changes.

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So if you enjoy relaxing on the deck chair with a refreshing glass of tequila, I would recommend Espolón! Not only will you receive a high quality product, you’ll obtain an awesome bottle with some incredible designs including skulls, skeletons and a rooster, what more could you possibly ask for? If you love skulls and tequila, this is the brand for you.

Espolón also features a Facebook Page and a Twitter Page that is worth viewing if you wish to acquire further information! These amazing advertisements are created by Steven Noble, click on the link to view the artist’s Behance Portfolio.

References

1.Marchi, Regina.M, The Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenan (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009) p.26-27
2.Regina, The Day of the Dead in the USA, p.27-28
3.Regina, The Day of the Dead in the USA, p.27-28
4.Espolón Tequila, “A Legend in the Making,” 2013 (Accessed 9/2/15) http://www.tequilaespolon.com/en/?age=verified
5.Barajas, Elías Domínguez, The Function of Proverbs in Discourse: The Case of a Mexican Transnational Social Network (New York: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, 2010) p.100
6.Espolón Tequila, “Tasting Notes,” 2013 (Accessed 9/2/15) http://www.tequilaespolon.com/en/?age=verified


Black and White Skull Makeup Continued

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Yesterday, I shared one of my self portraits with the black and white skull makeup and I thought I would add the rest of the photographs from the series. Once I’ve taken the photographs in the dark laneway, I decided to take some additional photos before I started to remove the makeup. I do enjoy experimenting with the makeup, my aim is to expand or enhance the overall design.

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in my next attempt, I would create a different shape for the teeth and I would add some additional shadows around the eyes or the jaw line. In some of my previous posts, I have discussed my interpretations of death via black and white photography, I have highlighted the most crucial elements so I thought I would keep this particular post relatively short and simple. If you are interested in viewing the previous posts, just click on the link here for Death & the Photographic Image Part I and Part II

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Towards the end of the night, I smudged the makeup in order to created a distressed or deteriorated effect that did create some interesting results. When I view the images, I sometimes can’t believe that I’m the person in the image, I’ve become my own personal representation of death. This is my first attempt with the black and white skull makeup in about two or three years and the photo shoot has provided an excellent opportunity for me to practise, I intend to continually develop or enhance the design.

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The photographs are inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe’s Self Portrait, 1988 and the artist passed away in 1989 from AIDS, as referenced by the Tate Gallery Website.1 At first, I was fascinated with Mapplethorpe’s black and white self-portrait and the surrounding darkness definitely isolates the artist’s own face and his skull shaped cane; these particular elements have a profound effect in regards to my perceptions of death.

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I regularly associated death with darkness and the reduction of colour or movement, although it’s so hard to articulate the ending of life, as there are so many different explanations. I have repeatedly mentioned these thoughts over the past couple of years and it will be interesting to see if these ideas will progressively change over time.

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Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photographs and I have a surprise that I’m really excited about! I can’t wait to share the details!

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1. Mc Ateer, Susan, Tate Gallery, “Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1989,” (Accessed 5/2/15) http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mapplethorpe-self-portrait-ar00496/text-summary


New Twitter Page for Black Calavera

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Hey there everyone, I finally created a Twitter page! I have wanted to create one for a while but I just needed to find the time, now I’m just getting used to all the different settings…this is kind of fun. I’m specifically using the social media sites as a way to record / reference my inspiration for future blog posts and reviews. I discover so many different artworks and designs featuring the skull, it’s often difficult to keep up with everything.

I thought I would sneak in another photo with me experimenting with the skull makeup, I would love to create some additional patterns / designs and I’ll have all next week to devote to some experimentations, yay. I just need to work on the shadows and the shape of the teeth but I’ll release a post later in the week anyway.

You can now follow me on Twitter, just click on the link below, stay tuned!

https://twitter.com/blackcalavera22


Shogyo Mujo by Joshua Harker & Bartkresa Design

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

References

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


Self Portraits become distressed and decayed

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Last Friday, I uploaded some self-portraits that I’ve taken in one of Melbourne’s deserted laneways, today I thought I would share some of the photographs that I have destroyed. I’ve undertaken a project / experiment where I’ve ripped or destroyed my own self-portraits using water and cello tape in order to determine whether these alterations increase my connection to death.

The modifications definitely provide a distressed, sinister appearance and I can’t believe that I’m the person in the image, I’ve destroyed the image of myself in order to create a different effect.I have often placed the smooth image opposite the decayed version in order to observe the process or the progression, this experiment often reminds me of a body slowly decaying into a corpse, which is something I’ve mentioned before in my previous posts and this is one particular thought that will continually reoccur when I view these images.

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The scariest thought is the realisation that  I’ll start to decay or deteriorate once I’m dead and I’ve discovered that there is a similar parallel with the images that I’ve destroyed. At first, the photograph features a smooth, polished surface until it’s destroyed into something imperfect, flawed or decayed.

This is a really challenging task for me, as I will spend a long period of time preparing the make up for the photo shoot, installing the equipment and taking the photographs of myself. I often whether death is meant to feature a smooth, flawless or polished appearance? To me personally, I am able to establish a closer association to the concept of death through my distressed images, all the imperfections elevate the context of the work, the process from life to death isn’t a perfect experience.

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The images remind me of my car accident back in 2010, where I sandwiched between two other cars, I was lucky to be alive actually. While I crumple the image in-between my hands, I continually remember the car crumpling into a square box, this was a very close encounter to death and I actually thought I would die in a matter of seconds. Destroying the images has become a reminder of my experience and the overall process has allowed me to face this memory instead of trying to forget everything all together.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased with my initial photographs although I do enjoy observing the smooth or polished surface of the image progressively transforming into an element of decay or deterioration. When I’ve crumpled the image, the texture provides a very interesting effect to the overall portrait and I’ve also rubbed the paper together in order to transfer the ink to another area of the photo, this technique also creates some very intriguing results.

There was one stage, where I experienced a printing error and the default created some very interesting filters with one of my photographs. Instead of throwing the photograph away, I wondered if I could use the image somehow. I crumpled the photograph and the texture complimented the colours, I don’t normally work with colour, although I thought this would be an interesting experimentation.

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While I have established a closer connection to death through the reduction of colour, the filters as well as the uneven textures do present a level of decay or destruction. There are certain scenarios, where accidents or defaults can work in your favour, it’s interesting to utilise these mistakes and transform them into something interesting.

There is another distressed photograph that produced some very interesting colours featuring blue and orange and I purposely set the white balance incorrectly in order to determine whether the adjusted settings would create a different effect. These experimentations do create some very interesting styles that are worth exploring further or later down the track. I often reuse the same image in order to determine what I can create something interesting all together, there is just so much to explore, stay tuned!

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Photographic Self-Portraits: Death and the Photographic Image II

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

References

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

http://kryolan.com.au/products/supracolor


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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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!

References

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

http://blog.totalwine.com/2012/02/02/pt-2-dan-aykroyd-talks-vodka-with-total-wine-more/
http://io9.com/forensic-artist-reconstructs-the-face-of-crystal-skul-1524391326
http://www.startraksphoto.com/home.aspx
http://www.crystalheadvodka.com/news/dan-aykroyd-blows-full-steam-a-head-into-london-england
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151824863486326.1073741845.91373316325


OMG Literally Dead is one Instagram Account worth following this year!

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While I was scrolling through my news feed through Facebook, I discovered the most entertaining Instagram page known as “OMG Literally Dead” by Dana Herlihey. The site features a skeleton known as ‘Skellie’ who enjoys life’s everyday moments, whether it’s enjoying a cup of Starbucks coffee or going out for lunch, Skellie won’t miss a thing!

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As soon as I discovered the Instagram page, I was immediately fascinated with this deathly, yet animated skeleton who ‘literally’ won’t take life for granted. The site features a prefect blend of satire, humour and creativity that has inspired me to follow Skellie and her daily activities.

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It is interesting to view the subject of death from a satirical point of view and Herlihey’s Instagram page presents a unique, innovative concept that is rather addictive to follow at times. I have recognised that Skellie has rapidly increased in popularity amongst various social media sites and the online community. This has invited me to question whether we are searching for something different, a representation of death that isn’t overly morbid, sinister or grotesque.

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In reference to the article via Skullspiration, Herlihey began to take photographs of the ‘office skeleton’ that eventually transformed into a popular Instagram page with thousands of followers and she realised there was a market for “contemporary satire.” Herlihey’s idea has successfully transformed just an ordinary skeleton into a loveable, yet entertaining figure with some very humorous characteristics, as referenced by Skullspiration.

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If you love skulls or skeletons with a combination of humour and satire, I would recommend viewing this Instagram page, hopefully you’ll enjoy Skellie as much as I do! Check out the links below to view some more images or photographs featuring Skellie.

References

Skullspiration, “OMG Literally Dead,” http://www.skullspiration.com/omg-literally-dead/

http://instagram.com/omgliterallydead/

http://danaherlihey.com/

http://danaherlihey.com/omgliterallydead/


Work in Progress: Death and the Photographic Image

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

References
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

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‘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.

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#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 

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#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

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#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

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#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.

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‘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

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#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.