member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life


This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo


(Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Line Becomes Flesh


Aubrey Beardsley’s peacock dress illustration for Oscar Wilde’s play, Salomé


Alla Nazimova as Salomé

I

Aubrey Beardsley’s 1894 illustrations of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé are perhaps as famous as the play itself. Recently, however, I stumbled upon a complete surprise in John Coulthart’s blog: in 1923, those drawings were brought to life in a silent film production of Salomé starring Russian actress Alla Nazimova (nee Mariam Edez Adelaida Leventon). Reputedly the hostess of parties ablaze with debauchery--at her very own “Garden of Allah”-- Nazimova was unmoved by the studios’ fears of scandal and therefor took on much of the extremely high expense ($350,000) of the film’s production herself. Much of the expense seems to have come from the costuming, with all the textiles being shipped from Paris.


Nazimova, who inspired Tennessee Williams to become a playwright with her 1936 performace of Ibsen’s Ghosts, had little trouble playing Herod’s sultry teenage daughter convincingly, though she was herself 42. However, the film flopped miserably, as the morals of the day found it just as unacceptable as Wilde’s and Aubrey Beardsley’s contemporaries had found the play and its illustrations.


“The Dancer’s Reward” (Aubrey Beardsley)


Alla Nazimova

Black Cape (Aubrey Beardsley)

Above, you can see the inspirations for the collar, the flower-designs, the shape of the cape, and the odd head-piece.



Though I do not have Nazimova’s version of Salome’s famous Dance of the Seven Veils to share with you here, I do have something that is infinitely (in my opinion) better: Rachel Brice, performing a more modern, stylized version of what Aubrey Beardsley called “The Stomach Dance.” Among the long list of things Brice could convince someone to do just by dancing for them, I can add: her performance convinced me to give up several hours of the day towards trying to learn this style of dance.



And here is Zoe Jakes (not me, unfortunately), to show you that there are really no limits to what your body can do. I’m serious. Just watch.




Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Erzulie Wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving

Erzulie III


some notes:
"Voudoun has given woman, in the figure of Erzulie, exclusive title to that which distinguishes humans from all other forms: their capacity to conceive beyond reality, to desire beyond adequacy, to create beyond need. In Erzulie, Voudoun salutes woman as the divinity of the dream, the Goddess of Love, the muse of beauty." 138The Divine Horsemen

One of the most striking aspects of the traditions surrounding the devotions to Erzulie is that they always end with her weeping. Erzulie is lovely, beautiful, and she has the adoration of all men, yet she does not strike hateful jealousy in the women, because of her child-like innocence. She induces wonder and care, she is like a child. And, though she begins all celebrations in her honor filled with giddiness and pleasure at the excess of beautiful and expensive things that are always lavished on her parties, she slowly grows sad, accusing the people of not honoring her enough, not giving her enough, not loving her enough. In Maya Deren's book "The Divine Horsemen," she suggests that this is just another aspect of her child-like behavior (along with an "impatience with economies, with calculation, even with careful evaluation" 139), that you cannot give a child enough attention to satiate its need, and that those present at the devotions understand this and soothe her. I feel, however, that perhaps Erzulie is right. We do not devote enough of our attentions to child-like wonder, to endless and all-enveloping love--if we did, the world would be a much different place.
In Candomblé Ketu, Ewá represents the water element, and is the goddess of enchantment, beauty, and harmony. Like Erzulie, in the related Voodoo pantheon, she is universally loved and loving and "represents all that is fragile and sensitive." According to Morwyn, in Magic from Brazil, "Euá was so beautiful that men would fight to the death to possess her. In order to stop the carnage she changed herself into a puddle of water that evaporated to the sky, condensed into a cloud, and fell as rain. Thus she is known as the deity of transformation."

Here, I am fusing the two water divinities, hoping for a major transformation such as the one Erzulie begs for, one in which I no longer need to mess with stupidities like balancing my checkbook, for example... She is still paired with the Green Lion of alchemical transformation, and they rest beside Legba's tree, which opens the doors to the other worlds. If you look closely, you can see the first bird forming from the clouds billowing up from her scarf.
More on Erzulie, Ewa, and Legba here and here.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nature Gives Lessons in Perspective, Part II: The Sculptures of Patrick Dougherty

(see Part I).


"Natural Selection," 1996
(22x8ft)
Copenhagen Botanical Gardens, Denmark


"Jug or Naught," 1999
(up to 20 ft)
Frederick Meijer Gardens, Michigan


I just discovered a very unique artist on Garden History Girl'sblog. Patrick Dougherty came to accept art as his life's work only after a career in health-care administration: "I just loved making things," he explains, "but I had trouble understanding the relevance. I didn't see the purpose if you couldn't make a living out of it...But then I realized that the subtle emotions that art and dance evoke in humans are the most important. They are the ones that make us feel deeper." He found that most types of art didn't allow him the scale he wanted to work with, and that frustration led him back to a childhood tool: the stick. As he turned his full focus towards his new art, he regained something else from childhood--that ability to get completely lost in a process, forgetting about the end result (as well as its "sellability"). "Having the product at the end is not my goal. My goal is building it. It's someone else's job to contain it, have it, maintain it." His sculptures are by nature temporary, yet he puts an immense amount of time and energy into each one. He also reverts to the child's ability to work well and on equal footing with others, asking his volunteers for their opinions and suggestions, and creating a solid group atmosphere; the routine interruptions of his work by visitors and curious questions seem to be a positive and welcomed part of the experience for him.



(2006, created on the Brahan Estate in the Scottish Highlands)

One interesting aspect of being an itinerate sculptor who works out in the open for several weeks at a time all over the world is that he is exposed to all kinds of people and their philosophies. He has neighborly, over-the-backyard-fence conversations with many more neighbors than your average North Carolina dweller. He also ends up temporarily residing in some odd places. Pat Summers describes one such dwelling in an article in Sculpture Magazine (July/August 2005):

"Some 400 years old, the [Shinto shrine] was believed to be haunted by several families' ancestors. There were monkeys that threw things and reportedly carried off small children, as well as snakes that came with the temple and could not be harmed. Under the new tin roof, the original straw covering may have sheltered scorpions, as anyone trying to sleep below was well aware."


And, he says, "I've learned to swallow things. Not to be rude, you have to learn to put something in your mouth and swallow it whether you like it or not. You just do it and take the consequences."


"Arcadia", 2004, LA.

This year, he created a 25-foot high installation he named "Summer Palace" at Morris Arboretum, in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, using only natural materials he gathered around the site. With the help of several volunteers, he worked through whatever weather--and some of it was apparently pretty rough--to create the palace in the allotted three weeks from maple, dogwood, willow, and ash branches:


"Summer Palace"
"Before I left my house to come [to Pennsylvania], I found a snail shell and everything just kind of came together from there. I started thinking about the idea of a pagoda and a layer-cake effect." The end result was the image shown above, which leads its visitors through circular halls to a child-sized central room, much like many of us created in the woods as kids, except...not.


"Childhood Dreams"
Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona, 2007.
Photographer: Adam Rodriguez.

Remember, there are no nails here, just twigs.
He talks a bit about his ideas, process, and the above image, "Childhood Dreams," in this video:





"Bivouac," 2003
20x30x20ft.
Three Rivers Art Festival, Pittsburgh, PA

In an interview with Roberta Sokolitz, he says:
"Perhaps I should say something about drawing here, because it is so central to the success of my work. Ironically, I have never been comfortable with a pencil. Early attempts to change my left-handedness to right-handedness caused me to seize up when handling anything to do with mark-making. There has been a tremendous release as I have learned to use saplings as lines and full-body motion as a kind of pencil. I use all the drawing conventions to make an interesting surface--hatchmarks and "x"-ing and raking diagonals. I use emphasis lines and shading. I have learned that sometimes one small little branch can be employed to cool a heavy line. There is also the potential to introduce sticks into the surface in one direction, thus massing the tapered lines and suggesting a kind of motion and directionality."
This type of painting with sticks can be seen clearly in the above image, Bivouac. Below is "Just Around the Corner," which looks to me like a real-life version of a Jacek Yerka painting:


"Just Around the Corner," 2003
18ft


"I think it is important to capture the life of nature. I want to show that there is vitality and motion to the installation. I want to capture the air and the wind moving around it."


"Paradise Gate"
Smith College Museum of Art, Massachusetts, 2001
Photographer: Stephen Petegorsky.


Na Hale 'o waiawi ("Wild Dwellings Built from Strawberry Guava")
The Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2003.
Photographer: Paul Kodama.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dream Detective, Part II


photo by Abelardo Morell

(Part One is here).


photo by Abelardo Morell

He’s not even gone long enough for water to boil, and he comes back with two steaming mugs. He sets mine down in front of me and eases into his chair. It’s not just that he’s a slouch, you can see that he dreads this almost as much as I do. I almost feel sorry for the guy.
I look at the pale tea.
“Don’t you want to ask me anything?” I say, trying to help him out.
He drums his fingers some more, this time on the edge of his desk. “Well,” he says, looking pointedly at my tea. He gestures sort of over-casually towards it. “Well,” he repeats, “actually, no.”
I stare.
He returns to drumming.
I sniff at the tea suspiciously. It has no scent. “Are you going to drink yours?” I ask, probably not very politely.
He almost smiles. “Do you want to dream with me, or do you want me to dream with you?” he asks.
I don’t even want to dissect the question, so I decide to just throw in. I take my first sip. It tastes like it smells, which at least kills one source of anxiety. He immediately looks away, towards the window.
I try to focus on the fact that he isn’t simperingly sympathetic, that he doesn’t try to pull little tears out of me or lip-sync all the standard concerned lines regarding the state of my soul or spirit. I try to focus on his obvious leanings towards being a wise-ass, on the fact that the good calming Doctor Saromi loses all pretensions of self-control at the mere mention of his name. I try to focus on anything other than what this is, which is me drinking warmed-up nothing with this obviously unhinged individual who thinks we’re going to spend the night together on some other plane of existence.
It occurs to me that I might not look like me when I’m dreaming, and one thought leads to another until I’m snickering alone in my chair like I’m the one with a weak grasp on my surroundings.
He keeps drumming on the table.
“Should we have a secret handshake or something,” I snigger, trying to regain some kind of control. “You know, what if I don’t recognize you or something?”
He doesn’t answer right away. He slugs his tea like he’s trying to believe it’s really what he wishes it was. Then he turns to me, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand, and he says, “I’ll know you. Trust me,” he says, and he grins, kind of maniacally. “I know what I’m doing.”

********

Technically, my end also requires no sleeping aids, but really, all rules are just suggestions. The path I walk creaks loudly when unoiled, making the mere idea of detective work a farce. So this lady can smell my medicine. It only means she’s conscious.
From the moment she leaves my office, I begin preparing for bed: I open the cabinet.


If only she had chosen to dream with me, now there would be something to look forward to.


photo by Abelardo Morell



*Note: All photos in this post are by Abelardo Morell, an expert at showing two worlds in one place, particularly through the "camera obscura" technique. Fiction by Zoe Jordan.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Mother’s Mudras—The Cure for Perceptile Dysfunction"

Dennis Roth: Another Lesson in Perspective



"Rising Rock"


On one of his websites, Oozing the Moon, Roth says,
"The 1990s were not a good decade for me, and the events of September 11, 2001 further dampened my spirits. In late November of that year, I was sitting on a log in Reston’s Twin Branches Nature Trail area when, for some reason, I decided to bridge over the log and hang my back and neck over it as I might have done were I a child. As I looked up at the pale sunset sky, it seemed I was actually looking down on a great “cosmic” ocean. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but with this simple act I was suddenly out of my decade-long semi-funk. The next day I hung over the bank of the nearby Glade Stream and was transported by the “Inverted Mirror World,” as I immediately dubbed it, and the deliciously disorienting state (I call it “proprioceptive ambiguity”) that it induced in me. For the next year, I walked through this area as much as I could and took many inverted photographs, and then in 2003 I started hanging over a public dock at Lake Audubon, while trying to be careful not to make too much of a spectacle of myself.


This childlike act, this self-reminder that a simple change in perspective can render the world wholly different, is embedded in all of his photos. Each photo--from a handheld camera, and without any digital manipulation-- presents a view from the trails and lakes around his home in Reston Virginia that I know I would not have seen, even if I'd been sitting there myself. He discovers creatures on the riverbanks, living beings, sprites or gods. He points his camera at a patch of straw-covered ground and exposes its spirit, shows its face. And that is art.


"Taoist Sage"

In the above photo, he uses inversion, the "crop" of the camera's eye, and the water's reflection to show us, well...a Taoist Sage.


"Panoptic"

Sunlight filters through the leaves, exposing a ghostly presence...
On his (on his Flickr page, he has a collection of these "Riparian Creatures." [Riparian:"of, relating to, or situated on the banks of a river"--apple dictionary]


"Catching the Red Eye"
Four-armed, with beady red eyes, this creature tilts his tall head slightly to give you "the look..."

"I learned that inverted, the sky appears bigger and more beautiful because one sees the concavity better. The vault (or actually “basin,” since it is seen as cosmic ocean) is enhanced by a perception of the horizon, which is not seen in one view if one simply lies on one’s back. At sunset, as color drains from the reflection, it too becomes a cosmic ocean when viewed while sitting fifty feet or so up the embankment—two cosmic oceans facing each other—sky and reflection. High-flying birds seen when inverted are flying fish, but a low-flying bird passing over one’s head at sunset seems to become almost an extension of the eye itself, or a particle/wave projected out from it—much better, to me at least, than seeing such a bird while sitting or standing....What a difference a one eighty makes! Upright it is beautiful, no doubt, but it is still sky and reflection. Whereas upside down faux non-duality supervenes and there is just sky, a little darker on top (formerly reflection), but still just sky."




"Doubled Dogs of Dada Land"

Once he had discovered that there's more than one way to see, he began experimenting with other perceptual adjustments. He not only shares his photographic discoveries with us, but also his methods--his website is like a mine of tools for exploration. Reading his entries prods me to experiment myself:
"I started experimenting with hand positions and movements in front of my eyes and got some very interesting effects. The Greeks' theory about vision was that it was an emanation of tiny particles from the eyes, i.e. the eyes illuminate or project what is seen and are not just passive receivers—not, of course, the modern scientific notion. Sitting in the woods, at a particular time and place, I put my hands in front of my eyes as in “The Hands Observatory” in Rhythm Vision and then gradually pulled them apart and experienced what seemed like an illumination or emanation from my eyes. What happens, of course, is that the eyes do not adjust immediately to the light and so there is slight delay, which manifests as a subtle "emanation" in the front of the visual field. I was also moving my hands a few inches in front of my eyes like a dancer or tai chi practitioner and enjoying the illusion of seeing through them because of binocular vision. I am experimenting with that right now in the house and conclude that it's much more interesting with trees and foliage than with books and walls. Also I think one needs the natural light of the woods rather than the artificial light of a house to experience the "emanation." Another interesting and fun thing to do is to cup the hands in such a way that one is seeing only through a small hole, like taking a picture through a pinhole camera. Things seem both faraway and microscopically close at the same time and then when you pull the hands fully apart you get a little jolt of newness."



"Dots of Light"

"Something fun to do—find a bench or other place to lie in a forest or wooded area. Do tai chi-like movements that seem to interweave the foliage. Then stroke, trace, and outline the various things you see and imagine their tactile qualities. I find it's more enjoyable on one's back."


"Indra's Looking Glass Net with Double Helix"

Roth describes the above photo:

"The first of the inverted photos and also the first site re-visited in hopes of getting another shot. But it had vanished even though the mouth-like pattern of leaves should have been a dead give-away. The leaves, however, had disappeared and even the "mouth" had somehow closed up. It may recently have reappeared, but, if so, it's now much less compelling. Could this really have been the same place or was it just another level of illusion?
Like many of these photographs, it was a revelation when it came out of the "fixing" tray. Nothing had been pre- or post-visualized - Just an interesting pattern of light and lines, a click, and then temporary amnesia. Certainly no forethought of left- and right-handed versions of the same photo combining to create a more complex image, like a simple nucleic acid ramifying into a Double Helix DNA strand. A first lesson in the happy accidents that result from being topsy-turvy."

His website has so much to offer: his photos, his poetry, his prose...new ways of seeing, and many experiments you can try at home. I really recommend several visits a day...



"Now That's What I'm Talking' About!"

(*Note: The title to this post comes from his website.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Transformation: Erzulie-Ewa and the Green Lion

Transformation: Erzulie-Ewa and the Green Lion


In Candomblé Ketu, Ewá represents the water element, and is the goddess of enchantment, beauty, and harmony. Like Erzulie, in the related Voodoo pantheon, she is universally loved and loving and "represents all that is fragile and sensitive." According to Morwyn, in Magic from Brazil, "Euá was so beautiful that men would fight to the death to possess her. In order to stop the carnage she changed herself into a puddle of water that evaporated to the sky, condensed into a cloud, and fell as rain. Thus she is known as the deity of transformation."
The story resonates a bit with the Biblical flood, the idea of a transformative force, a cleansing force, that comes through water, which itself is not only representative of cleansing but also of emotions (think how we describe a "torrent" of emotions "flooding" over us or "bubbling" or "welling" up, or how we might call a relationship "stagnant," or we might keep our emotions "bottled" up or "dammed" up). Here, that positive emotion, Ewá's sense of love, rises above the violence of all those men who want her, and washes it away.

In Sacred Possessions, Vodou, Santeria, Obeah, and the Caribbean, Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert writes about a book called The Cathedral of the August Heat:

"The life-giving power of Vodou pervades the entire text. The veve, or mysical sign, for Erzulie, goddess of the erotic and divinity of dreams, presides over the first part of the novel. The power of Erzulie--'her elan, all the excessive pitch with which the dreams of men soar, when, momentarily, they can shake loose the flat weight, the dreary, reiterative demands of necessity'--imbues this section of the text. Conceived in the spirit of expansiveness characteristic of the cult of Erzulie, where all anxieties, all urgencies vanish, the section ends with the prefiguration of the power of laughter, the volcanic laughter that erupts in the world of the lost people like a seismic shock, spreading through the Caribbean region. The supernatural laughter corresponds to the image of the netherworld in folk tradition as the place to which fear has fled after its defeat by laughter. Folk laughter, the cosmic laughter of the lost people, represents the end of the 'mystic terror of the authority and truth of the past, still prevailing but dying, which has been hurled into the underworld'--the defeat of the forces that have zombified the people..."





The story of Erzulie, the story of Ewá, also reminds me of the Chinese bodhisattva Guan Yin, who also caused a massive transformation, defeating violence: during an unjust and forced visit to the Underworld, she was so overwhelmed with compassion for the souls which suffered untold tortures there, her very love transformed that hell into a paradise. She changed, simply by being full of compassion, the very order of things (something to think about the next time someone calls you a naive utopian). She is, like Ewá and Erzulie, the patroness of mothers and of sailors, and she can be called upon to bring rain;

"Other gods are feared, she is loved...Her throne is upon the Isle of Pootoo [P’u T’o], to which she came floating upon a water-lily. She is the model of Chinese beauty, and to say a lady or a little girl is a ‘Kuan Yin’ is the highest compliment that can be paid to grace and loveliness."--Source.


Alchemists, the precursors to our modern chemists, also strove for major transformation. The endless writings on the steps necessary to transmute base metals into gold are thought by some to have been mere code for a higher transmutation, an internal transmutation, in which the base form of the self becomes light, reaches higher consciousness. Alchemists sought to create an elixir of healing and eternal life, and one of the code names for that ultimate elixir was "the remedy of the green lion."


Here, she is decked out in finery and jewels, as Erzulie, who ignores utterly all the stresses of economics and regular old checkbook balancing, always demands for her ceremonies. As her dress melts into water which settles into a small lake, her scarf billows out into clouds which begin to detach in the form of birds. All of this takes place by a tall tree reaching in all directions, which represents the presence of Legba, Loa of the crossroads, who must be called upon in order to achieve any contact with the Vodou pantheon or the spirit world. Between them paces the green (I promise, he's green, or will be soon) lion.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dream Detective, Part I

jon fife
photo by Jon Fife

By the time the kid comes to me, she’s already half-broken. But she wears broken like a pit bull; she’s a mouthful of glass shards and seven leashes worth of lunging. She’s only spit three words before I’m glad she’s got no weight to her.
“A dream detective,” she spits.
This is how they all come to me: certain I’m a con or a lunatic, but too desperate not to try. And this one is not accustomed to the feeling of desperation.
“Sit,” I offer, ever the gentleman. She ignores me. I shut the door and head to my own seat behind the desk. At the last minute, I decide to keep standing, too. I don’t want this dame towering over me.
“How did you hear about my services?” I try again, my ego taking the lead.
“Dr. Saromi.” Her eyes smirk, ever so slightly.
“Dr. Saromi,” I repeat, checking my fingernails. “I was not aware,” I say, finally, “that she found my methods--”
“She doesn’t. That’s why I came.”
“Ah,” I answer.
“What exactly are your methods?” she says, in that same tone of voice. “Of detection,” she adds, just to get that last shard out.
This is actually the part I like. The explanation drives the whole thing right over the edge. Either she leaves in a huff, which is fine, or this is really her last resort, and she gives up, which leaves me to do my work. It’s just a hunch, but I’m betting this one’s at the end of her rope. Though once I start talking, I can feel her trying to stretch it just a little further.
She fails.
“Tea,” she says, finally going expressionless. “You’re going to detect using tea.”
She’s not bad, this kid. These anxiety-ridden types, they have a certain sinuous quality. It’s either very frail or very muscular. And that aggressive flavor, if you can keep your hands close enough to reign it in when necessary, that can be a very nice flavor. I let my eyes rest a beat too long, and I feel her begin to re-coil.
“Tea,” I confirm, hastily. “This is an ancient process. From Asia.”
“From Asia,” she sneers.
“We drink the tea together,” I continue. “Here, in the office. And then when you sleep--”
“Lavender panties,” she says, almost automatically. She closes her eyes.
I pause.
It takes a minute, but she opens them. “Ok,” she says.
“What is that?” I ask. After all, it could be important.
 She continues to stare straight past me at the wall.
“What is that?” I repeat. “Lavender panties.”
“Anger management,” she says.
I wait.
“A visualization. Kind of meditation.” Her lip curls: “Like in Asia.”
I tuck the lavender panties away for later thought. “Ok,” I concede. “So: no drugs, no sleeping aids, coffee’s ok in moderation--”
“I’m sleeping at home.”
“Yes, you just drink the tea here,” I reenter smoothly. With the girls, this question is always the first one. They’re afraid they might not be able to control themselves. I get up and head to the liquor cabinet by the window. I drum on the top, letting the sun burn some sting into my eyes. Probably I shouldn’t have a shot with her in the room. But it’s also true that I probably shouldn’t continue the conversation without one.
“What exactly led Dr. Saromi to mention me?” I ask, still drumming.
She doesn’t answer. The air in the room promises bad times to come.
“Is the tea in there,” she asks, “or does your end require sleeping aids?”
I drum my fingers. Bad, bad, bad.
“It has to be the same time every day,” I answer. “If this is a good time for you, then we’ll go ahead.”
And I wait.


Fiction by Zoe Jordan, Photo by Jon Fife.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Big Picture, Part 3

the big picture ii

My new painting of Rita, the patron saint of abused women, lost causes, and impossible dreams, blogged here and here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Big Picture, Part II



"Self Portrait," by Matthew Buchinger

"For Hair Strokes to the Eye they pass,
And yet they're Letters thro' a glass
Thus he with double Art can write
At once to please and cheat the Sight."
--quoted in Angelique Tachen's Magic

Under a magnifying glass, each curl of the hair in the above self-portrait reveals itself as not lines but words--there are seven psalms in all, making up the whole of the wig. The technique is called micrography, but it's not actually the most amazing thing about this self-portrait.

"See gallants, wonder and behold/This German of imperfect Mold,
No Feet, no Leggs, no Thighs, no Hands,
Yet all that Art can do commands.
First Thing he does, he makes a Pen,
Is that a Wonder! Well what then?
Why then he writes, and strikes a Letter,
No Elziverian Type is better.
Fix'd in his Stumps, directs the Quill
With wondrous Gravity and Skill."
--quoted in The Telephone Book, by Avital Ronell

A little bit about the artist, from The Dublin Penny Journal, Volume 1, Number 44, April 27, 1833:

"The following memoir of an individual, comparatively speaking obscure, whom Nature, in a freakish moment, sent into the world scarce half made up, is, we think, of value, as affording a striking instance of the triumphs which may be achieved by mental energy and perseverance over defects apparently the most insuperable, and further, as an interesting example of the power of mental worth in attracting the friendship and regard of the good and estimable portion of mankind, in defiance of the greatest repulsiveness of appearance, and even bodily deformity. It presents strong evidence, also, that, even under the most adverse circumstances, much real enjoyment of life is within the reach of every human being; while thousands, nevertheless, in every class of society, to whom Nature has been profuse of her gifts, even to prodigality, eke out, from day to day, a useless, joyless existence, and finally quit life without having obtained as much respect from their fellow-men, or possibly as large a share of true happiness as fell to the lot of the lowly subject of this notice."



Matthew Buchinger was born in 1674 in Germany, without hands, feet, or thighs. He sat 2 1/2 inches high. He grew up to be a master engraver and artist as well as a famous magician, especially skilled at "balls and cups" and card games. He created and played several instruments of his own, and also performed publicly on the trumpet, dulcimer, bagpipe, hautboy, and flute. He made a good living with his drawing and performing abilities, thus avoiding having to support himself and his 14 plus children (through 4 wives and--perhaps--seventy mistresses) by way of self-exhibition as a sideshow draw.
Unfortunately, the self-portrait is the only drawing of his I've been able to gain access to.