Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Using Bones in Music: Deer Skull Microphone

This past weekend I had a photo gig at the 49th Electronic SubSouth show, at The Kickstand in Gainesville, FL.

Early in the evening I spotted this deer skull and my brother, Chris, comes up to tell me that this is actually a working mic that one of the musicians that night would be using.

BONELUST - Deer Skull Microphone Top

Later on I met him, Dave Armitage AKA No Limit Cycle.

BONELUST - Dave Armitage AKA No Limit Cycle with His Deer Skull Microphone

Turns out he is into the same kinds of stuff my brother and I are. He works with bats and insects for a living AND collects bones. So naturally I was excited about this and wanted to talk to him. Soon after, he told me a really funny story about how he found the skull involving ants and relieving yourself in the woods...haha

I actually missed Dave using the deer skull mic during his performance, because I had to run across town to the Gainesville Skate Park for another show.

I tried to find video of him using it on YouTube but didn't see any. He's apparently only used it a few times. Dave demonstrated for me though, that he actually puts the snout of the deer skull inside his mouth and vocalizes. The actual microphone is way in back of the skull and full of pennies to make additional noises when the skull is shook.

BONELUST - Deer Skull Microphone Underneath

Here is the underside of the skull where you can see the microphone wiring entering the skull. There is a sort of soft putty sealing it inside.

Dave uses other animals bones in his live performance as well. Here is a video of him using a mic'd bone necklace during a live improvisational performance:

Parts of it REALLY remind me of this Scary Sounds of Horror record I had when I was younger. The same one my family blared out the window on Halloween evening! Awesome.

It is very interesting to see bones being used along with electronic music devices. I'll have to be sure to catch No Limit Cycle another time and get live shots of the deer skull mic in use!

Nice to meet you Dave!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Memento Mori

Memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning "Be mindful of death."

And may be translated as:

"Remember that you are mortal."

"Remember you will die."

"Remember that you must die."

"Remember your death."

This phrase names a genre of artistic creations that vary widely in medium, but which all serve the same purpose to remind people of their own mortality.

I use photography as my main means of creating my own Memento mori these days. Although I have used a wide range of other mediums to express it my entire lifetime.

My newest work is a self portrait series with my bone collection. Some of my favorites, click to see larger versions and the full set:

BONELUST - Self Portrait with Skull of Wild Boar & Domestic Pot-bellied Pig Mix 3

BONELUST - Self Portrait with Huge American Bison SkullBONELUST - Self Portrait with Moose Antler 1BONELUST - Self Portrait with White-tailed Deer Skull 1BONELUST - Self Portrait with Skull of Wild Boar & Domestic Pot-bellied Pig Mix 4

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Beauty of Death

Sometimes death comes quite naturally.

Like this Yellow-rumped Warbler, I found laying beautifully in the yard. I could tell it was not killed by any of my cats or dogs because it remained in full, nearly pristine condition.

(Click on any of the images for a larger view.)

BONELUST - Dead Yellow-rumped Warbler 1

BONELUST - Dead Yellow-rumped Warbler in Hand

BONELUST - Dead Yellow-rumped Warbler 4

BONELUST - Dead Yellow-rumped Warbler 2

The thing about bird remains is that they can stay outside for YEARS and you still may never have a clean skull.

Perfect example being this cardinal head I found long ago that I've had in my "bone box" for all this time.

It just looks more weathered, rained on, and flat now if anything.

BONELUST - Cardinal Head

So I've decided to hang the Yellow-rumped Warbler remains appropriately over my pet cemetery, from an Egyptian scarab beetle amulet instead. I'm hoping the feathers with slowly wash away leaving a beautiful skeleton.

BONELUST - Dead Yellow-rumped Warbler Hanging on Egyptian Scarab Beetle Amulet 2

If it works, I'll have follow-up photos.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Never Steal a Dog's Food

I hosed fur, blood & feces off the sidewalk this morning. Why?

At around 3AM I heard playful barking coming from outside. The dogs bark now and then during the night so I didn't pay much attention.

Then something triggered in my head. It was the way the dogs were barking, and I realized that they "had something". I'd heard this bark before when they had a mole (which I did manage to somehow save).

I ran outside and the dogs fled when I did. They knew they were doing something I was not going to like.

This is what I found at the foot of my steps:

BONELUST - Injured Opossum Playing Dead

A really big Mr. Opossum, which looked pretty dead. I stood there watching for breathing, movement, anything. Nothing. I really didn't want the dogs to grab him again and make a big bloody mess all over the place.

It was odd because I hadn't so much as seen an opossum for a long time because of the dogs. But this guy had somehow wandered into my yard and found the dog food.

Yup, that's where the trail of drool and fur started. They must have caught him in the act and nabbed the poor guy in his behind. Long ago I'd find opossum and raccoon heading up a tree with the dogs barking underneath.

I stood between the opossum and the dogs trying to figure out what to do. No way I was touching that bloody ball of wet fur with razor teeth! And I didn't want to hurt him any more in case he was still alive.

Falcor was creeping up alongside a tree half laying keeping his "eyes on the prize", while Artax tried to use his eyes to hypnotism me away from the area. No luck.

BONELUST - Falcor & Artax Wanting to Play with Mr. Opossum More

Then I saw Mr. Opossum's nostrils begin to flare and his chest rise and fall rapidly. Guess he was probably in shock and coming out of it. Whew, good news!

I walked the dogs away from the area and tried to distract them from his escape. Another few minutes passed and I saw him get to his feet and sneak back to the woods. So I ran the dogs out to the road. They LOVE chasing after me and really can't resist!

So glad the opossum was just injured and playing dead. Really hope he made it into the deep-woods and didn't go under my house to die. Don't want to deal with that stench, again.

The next day I saw a vulture circling the property. Though they do make their daily rounds, it had me nervous. This one was flying really low.

BONELUST - Sue Climbing on Fallen Tree Near Opossum Den
Sue climbing freshly fallen trees near an animal den.

So I headed out into the woods to see if there was any sign of vultures feeding. No vultures, no opossum...good. Found an animal den near the base of a HUGE tree that must have fallen during a tornado watch in the area the night before. Could be what stirred up poor Mr. Opossum. Really hope I don't find him back in the yard in pieces later on.

A happy ending, so far.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bone Collecting from the Beginning

I have been collecting bones from a very young age. I was 7 years old when it all began. My brother and I found a tiny dead newly hatched turtle in an ant bed at the end on our suburban Tampa cul-de-sac. We argued over who was going to keep it. Chris, being three years older, of course won that right.

Somewhere around 15 years later though, he passed on that skeleton to me. Sadly, Dermestid Beetle larvae ate up the tiny skeletal remains while it was in a glass case on my wall. Fitting since these larvae are used for cleaning carcasses for the bones and skulls.

I've actually lost much of the older parts of my bone and insect collection to these guys. Now I try to keep my more fragile remains in sealed glass jars or plastic bags. The Dermestid Beetle larvae can actually eat smaller bones and insect remains entirely.

You can purchase Dermestid Beetles and their larvae online. If I ever have a larger scale use for them I'll buy some but the maggots a carrion beetles out where I live do a great job on their own and are free. We'll talk about that in much more gruesome detail later on though.

BONELUST - Misc Animal Teeth & Tiny Pufferfish in Jar
Misc animal teeth found in my yard & tiny Pufferfish in jar.

So my brother and I had a pretty spectacular bone collection growing up which was carefully displayed in his room. A sea turtle skull, the entire remains of an armadillo, a huge long-horned cow skull, and much more. I'm going to see if I can find some photos of our collection to post later.

Ours parents, unfortunately must have thought this was a hobby that my brother and I needed to grow out of though. One Summer while we were at our grandparents' in Missouri our entire collection vanished with no explanation. We came home to empty shelves where it once was. Still to this day, I'm upset about it. There were things in that collection that I've never been able to get again. And some of it held sentimental meaning.

My brother still collects bones as well. His are bought or found for the most part. I don't think he goes through the processes I do though of going from a carcass to clean bones. But I may just be unaware of that though too.

I live in the deep-country on the Gulf coast of Florida these days. In an area called The Nature Coast. I moved here to enjoy nature while the locals spend much of their time trying to kill it for sport and/or food.

There is certainly no lack of bones to be found out here.

BONELUST - Found Skull & Fragments
Skull and fragments found in backyard after the dogs chewed it up. I think it is actually another dog.

There is an endless amount of road kill along the highways to take you pick at, if you care to drag the body to your car and take it home. Ranging from opossum, raccoon, dog, cat, wild boar, deer, vulture, turtle, wild turkey, rabbit, skunk, barn owl...and on and on.

Most of my finds recently though can be thanks to A) the local hunter dumping gutted carcasses in the woods and B) my dogs dragging the bones and skulls into the yard.

I'm going to chronicle those stories here, and much more.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Origins of Bonelust

Bonelust is a play on bloodlust, which is a desire for violence and carnage. So then perhaps bonelust is the desire for the remains of bloodlust. Just the bones and whatever else remains from an often unseen violent act. Much of my bone collection is from roadkill or hunting remains. Neither of which I was the guilty party. Some of it was bought and the rest was found in its final beautiful ivory remains.

BONELUST - Found Opossum Bones in Jar
Opposum bones found in the woods next to my house.

I've had much interest shown in my "museum" if you will over the years. My house is laid out in every direction with interesting things for the eyes to behold. Although admittedly, for those who enjoy the darker aesthetics in life.

Here, I will share my countless collections, artwork, writing, photography...everything. Hope you enjoy.