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

(Slideshow is of 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

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.


  1. Love it.

    See what I see here, nothing but magic.

    Love Renee xoxo

  2. An amazing lesson about the most healthy stubbornness against adversity. Thank you, my dearest, you are an inspiration every day!

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