Tag Archives: Writing

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!


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