in progress…

a couple of images showing progress on the build…

here you can see the coming together of a lot of elements previously mentioned.. the silicon face, the latex ’tissue’ underneath. i replaced the cast latex teeth with ones made from polymer clay [sculpey] for a more realistic appearance. i also added a jawbone made from the same material for strength.

the webcam sits nicely in the eye socket. though without the eyeball covering, it gives off something of a terminator vibe!

for display, the face will be mounted on the front of a skull bowl [which can be seen behind], which is set atop a few sections of spine.

and inside this bowl of the skull [the brain cavity] sits the foetus…

there’s still quite a bit of construction to be done, but it is coming together quite nicely.

the main thing slowing me down is my lack of studio space. a dedicated workshop area with sufficient space and appropriate ventilation would have sped this up tenfold. however, i’m currently working from home where space is minimal and the weather dictates my ability to work in a ventilated area [the back yard!].

it’s too late in the day to find workshop space to finish this off now, but has really cemented my belief that i need to get a studio asap!



under the skin

now that i have my ‘face’, i must build a head for it to live on…

using the cast i have of rach’s face as reference, i made a clay sculpt [above] of the foundations that would be found underneath the skin [skull, tissue, muscle]. i then took a plaster mould from this, followed by a latex positive.

i then inserted a webcam in the eye socket [of the latex version], and have fashioned a eyeball cover to hide it – leaving a hole where the pupil is… so the camera can see out! below is a photo of the eye looking at me, and the subsequent output.

my intention is to have the eye working as a motion sensor. this would mean when something disturbs the field of vision, i can trigger digital events.

in the context of my exhibit, i would like a welcome or introduction video to be triggered when people first approach the head.


dead skin mask

the brainchild concept was inspired by a friend.

her name is rachel brockley and she has recently started her own blog here on wordpress too: adventures on the brightside. it follows her exploits during the year as dictated by her new diary! [link]

anyway. because this was rach’s idea – her brainchild, if you will – i felt it only appropriate that i used her head as the centrepiece for this project. it’s as if the idea has come full circle, and now her own head will house the physical brainchild.

it turned out that the only time we were both free was also the day her diary instructed ‘pamper yourself‘. she has recorded the entire process and posted it on her blog. so rather than me relaying the entire thing again, you can read it from rach’s perspective [link]

this photo shows the comparison with real-life rach and her spare face! the material it is quite gel-like and fleshy to the touch, but is slightly chalky here as it has just been released from the mould. once cleaned up and coloured the cast is even more creepy that in the photo!


other children of the brain

i have stated that i struggled to find anyone else using this brainchild concept. however, i felt convinced somebody else must have had this idea too, so i continued looking.

so please, have a look at these…

this painting is called “brain child” by the artist leo plaw [link].

i had thought that if i’d find this concept use anywhere, it would have been in the work of alex grey [link] – but i didn’t!  however, looking through leo’s substantial body of work, the anatomical themes and surreal nature of his paintings do indeed put me in mind of alex grey.

i can’t find a date on this painting, so i am unsure whether it pre-dates my own sketch. it does not appear in his facebook gallery, so may be relatively new [possibly within the last 3 months]. this should not be interpreted as me speculating who had the idea first, clearly there are elements in his paintings i can trace it’s probable lineage from. i am simply curious where this occurs on the timeline next to my own sketch.

i also found this…

again, entitled “brain child”, this assemblage is by an artist called catherine burris [link]. she has some interesting paintings, but i find these 3d constructions to be the most interesting pieces of her work.

as to the chronology of this piece, well… there is no doubt that catherine’s work pre-dates my sketch [completed on 29th april 2011], as this piece was part of an exhibition in 2009. sadly her website informs us that she died on 17th february 2011. so please take a moment to look over some of her work and enjoy her artistic legacy.


project planning

given the short timescale i have until deadline, i really cannot afford to waste time producing unnecessary material. so i feel it is best to map out this entire project in a reasonable level of detail.

this is my current project overview…

each white piece of paper represents a marker on the timeline. these all need fleshed out with details relating to the backstory.

the pink papers are placeholders for printed media [photographs, documents, newspaper articles, etc]. some are superfluous, and may be dropped if they lose relevance once the story is scripted further.

the green & blue papers relate to digital components or aspects of the exhibition, each of which constitutes a fair amount of work.

the face and skull are to remind me that this entire project revolves around the physical presence of one artefact   …which has not yet been constructed!

ever feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?


what’s the point?

over the last few months i have been contemplating this brainchild concept, which was based on a sketch i did for a friend last year…

this seemed to be a unique concept – i certainly found nothing quite like it online. so, i decided to use it as a theme for my major final year university project. this blog has been the record of this ongoing exploration.

i have detailed some of my methods which i would use to create a physical model of this concept. i’ve also listed various sources of research and inspiration. and most recently, i have explained a certain gripe i have when visiting museums and galleries.

but where is this all going?

my intention…

is to re-create the brainchild – that is to say that i will physically construct a head, which has had the cranium opened up to reveal a foetus residing within.

i will present the head as a real artefact which was used as carnival-esque sideshow attraction, but as if it were now displayed as a museum exhibit. accompanying the head will be documents and photographs which support it’s curious history.

additionally there will be a timeline which will help the view navigate the exhibit viewers the narrative. the timeline will be presented digitally.  i also intend to make available hi-res imagery of the various artefacts for those viewing the exhibit.

there are a few other things i would hope to include, but this is the core of the plan.. additional elements will serve to make for a fuller experience, but i suspect their inclusion will be dictated by available time. and given that i only have a few weeks to get this all done now, i’m gonna have more than a few sleepless nights.

wish me luck!


the trouble with exhibits…

i really enjoy going to museums and galleries, although i must admit i don’t make the effort to go nearly often enough. however, i usually find myself quite frustrated when perusing the various exhibits.

let me attempt to illustrate why, using these photographs i took on a recent trip…

here, we have a cabinet of fascinating artefacts – some dating back almost 3000 years. yet when i look to the numbered chart on the wall adjacent, often the only information attributed to the piece is something along the lines of:  bronze head, circa 2800BC‘.

these are interesting and beautiful objects, no doubt with an extensive personal history but we don’t even receive a full sentence of information about it! sure, i understand there are limits of available space, budgets to consider, and of course in some cases – there may be no information other than the physical & geological facts.

anyway, my next issue is present to some degree in the display above, but better explained by this next image..

to the left is a shot of the plaque underneath the painting ‘perseus and andromeda‘, giving us an explanation and short history [:D] of the picture. to the right was my view of the painting from that same spot. this is a very large picture [2.3m x 1.3m] and it is hung some way up the wall. it is also behind glass.

however, the  glass, wall position, and the lighting in the room all conspire to make it impossible to get a decent view of this beautiful oil painting. i had to stand 4 or 5metres away from it, before i could get a relatively unobstructed view. but at that distance, you can’t really see the detail of the painting!

of course, i could look for a hi-res image online – but i want to be more engaged with the object while i am in it’s physical presence. indeed, that is one of the reasons why i go to a gallery instead of simply viewing paintings online or in a book.

these frustrations regarding minimal information and issues with physical presentation are factors that i am taking into account when planning this overall project …which i shall explain more fully very soon!