Museum of Marine Life 2119 – Update THREE

Update Content of this week

I will be researching and diverging my project to see if there is any ways I could present my findings from the surveys that I have collected. For this research I focus mainly to ask myself if I should let the audience ‘create’ their own creatures, just present them with all the findings. My research area for this week would be teratology and taxidermy.

Teratology – The scientific study of congenital abnormalities and abnormal formations

Found one very interesting book about this topic:

Mütter Museum : historic medical photographs / The College of Physicians of Philadelphia ; edited by Laura Lindgren ; introduction by Gretchen Worden ; foreword by Max Aguilera-Hellweg.
New York : Blast Books, 2007.
Catalogue link: 

Quotes from Mutter Museum (the book):

Line from Pg 14 : In 1510 Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) wrote, ” Dispel from your mind the thought that an understanding of the human body in every aspect of its structure can be given in words; for the more thoroughly you describe, the more you will confuse: it is necessary to draw as well as to describe.”

Line from Pg 14: In the late 1700s Scottish anatomist John Bell (1763-1820) identified a “continual struggle between the anatomist and the painter, one striving for elegance of form, the other insisting upon accuracy of representation.”


One of the most bizarre cases(I felt) in the Mutter Museum book

The picture above shows a Chinese man with huge lumps of abrasions that were caused by a build up of calluses due to his job, a rickshaw labourer. Linking back to my project, studying and knowing these cases helps me to create realistic reasons why and what features should be on the creature. What caused these features? How does it affect their (the creatures) lives? Can they (the creatures) do anything to change it?

This book showcase a compilation of abnormal features. I was amazed by how many different kinds of abnormalities there are in the past. I researched more about the Mütter Museum and found out that they are actually a Real museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Questions and thoughts to myself after reading this book

From this book, I am quite unsure that if there is no photograph to prove that this symptom exist, will anyone believe that this even happened?

Relating this back to my project my project, I am looking at how believable a fact or feature may look like. Or should I even make it believable?

To what extend should I keep the ‘realness’?

As my concept is about mechanising a creature, how should the look and interaction be like?

Should I really follow what Leonardo’s words where I use both words and models to describe how a creature looks like?

How should I set up each creature so that I can optimise and convey the main concept of the project to my audience (once nature is destroyed, there is no way to describe it)?

Do I go towards the direction of bizarre looking features?

Or do I let then whole experience be more generative and the results are done by the audience rather than the artist?

Some interesting finds about Mutter Museum (I have chosen three projects which I found was interesting as a reference for my project). First and foremost, I am not looking at this projects because they are aesthetically pleasing, I am looking at the process of how they preserve and make these sculptures and why they are made.

The Mütter Museum is a medical museum located in the Center City area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It contains a collection of anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment. Below are some intriguing projects I found that are featured by the Mutter museum:

Woven strands 

A piece where a deceased person’s hair is being preserved as an artwork of sorts. Linking back to my project, could there be uses for the remains of the creatures that I am building? And if yes, which part would be

The Beauchene exploded skull (featured in Interview with Lindsey Fitzharris)

Mütter Museum Curator Anna Dhody invited Dr. Fitzharris for a behind the scenes tour. In this video they end up in our Bone Room, where they discuss 19th century medicine, from tuberculosis to child birth, and antisepsis to anatomy.

I was amazed how a sculpture used to study anatomy could be so INTERACTIVE in its own way! Normally when I see a skull, it would just be still and you cant really learn about the structure of it or even see the interior construction. With this method of showcasing, I excited to somehow incorporate it into my project (not only exploding a skull, but the whole creature to see the bones, some tissues and maybe the skin?). Below is a video of how it is suppose to work:

Specimen box on the curator’s desk

This specimen gives me a feeling of trust towards works preserved by the museum. It also prompts me to ask myself if I should make the vibe of my project serious? or more generative and fun?

Installation/exhibit references

Monster Laboratory by- Exhibited work from a group of students from a Taiwan University ( Can’t remember what the event is called)

This installation is presented in a way that it suggests the idea of experiments on animals with the use of science lab apparatus. At one glance, the audience is able to get a rough context of the project. Although the exhibits are too cartoon looking, the overall of this piece caught my attention for the longest time due to the way it is laid out and presented.

In the Real World, Japan pavilion, Architecture Biennale 2014
One of the exhibit layout of architectural blue print design in Venice Architecture Biennale 2014
Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 Japanese pavilion

The layout of this exhibit excites me (how the exhibitors presented this project), invites the audience to interact with the exhibit. It gives the audience a sense of trust given to them to not destroy the works. If I was there, I will pick up every one of the blue prints just out of curiosity. This is also a good way of organising huge chunks of information neatly (categorising them in time) rather than  just making a book or magazine to feature them.

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