Unstuffed—The New Taxidermy

PLA Resin, Steel, Wood, Graphite, Paint, Fabric—2017

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In nature, everything is connected.

I put this principle to the test in an experiment called Unstuffed—The New Taxidermy. Taxidermy art has an historical legacy as an educational tool. Wild animals were harvested from their habitats and posed in natural history museum dioramas.  For the Unstuffed—The New Taxidermy project, I built ‘specimens’ to study existence. My own life served as my laboratory.

Materials: Object selection

I started by collecting objects of value. I limited the selection area to my homeinside & outside. I chose as if I were collecting beach shells. Five items were chosen: A pony’s harness, a 19th century teapot, a Dr. Marten brand man’s shoesize 10, a cement doorstop in the shape of a feline, & my left hand.

Method: Sculpting materials used

3D pen, PLA Resin, Steel, Wood, Graphite, Paint & Painter’s Tape, Fabric

Protocol: Creative process

Each object was wrapped completely in blue painter’s tape. They looked like mummified Egyptian relics. Next, I used a 3D pen to trace designs on the taped surfaces.  I used my imagination to create where & how these lines connected. Each intricate design was intentionally complicated to be unique, like a fingerprint is. This drawing process is entirely manual & meditative. With the push of a button, hot resin leaves the pen tip and then hardens quickly on the tape. Once cool, the drawn shape was easily removed from the taped surface. Often individual sections were created and then fused together to build the complete, hollow form. Lastly, each 3D shape was paired with a handmade metal and/or wood design component related to the form’s purpose.

I recorded some of the creative process with some helpful cats and dogs. That video can be viewed here.

Results: Artifacts produced

Five sculptural compositions were created. See the slide show above. The items are called: Horsepower, 2. Tea, 3. Dr. Marten, 4. Schrodinger’s Cat, & 5. Paperless 

Conclusions: Findings

About the Unstuffed project title…

When I observe 19th century taxidermic animals, I long to pull them apart to find what is missing. I wonder, where is the life force that once inhabited these inanimate bodies covered in feathers, fur, & skin?  The 2nd law of thermodynamics in physics assures me that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change shape.

This research project suggested to me that I seek to understand energy sources.  I noticed that each composition was like a puzzle suggesting the presence of an invisible, botanical entity. I finished the project with more questions than answers. Lyrical words are useful to me when knowledge is elusive.

Timber!

Medicine.

Cut her down and she sings.

An uncertain existence.

Obsolete or sustainable?

A completed connection.