Sunday, December 12, 2010

Alchemy in the Big Easy

Eye SEE you!
Hey there everyone...I know you are all busy getting ready for the holidays.  Here's a little break from your retail therapy.   
My latest creation:
V.I.T.R.I.O.L.  (detail)
I just finished this piece as the class sample for my New Orleans workshop "A Place for Notions and Potions" from February 16-20.  

I was working on an apothecary kit...but admittedly I have been a bit obsessed with automatons like this one:
Zoltar - Remember him?  He knows your future.

I used to love these things....actually I still do.   Another influence along the same thread was the HBO series Carnivale. 

Carnivale opening credits
This series is a must if you have the in interest in the sideshow/dark carnival world.  Unfortunately it only lasted two seasons.
Carnival ad

 So I decided to merge this side show concept with an with an old apothecary/medicine kit such as this one:
In theory this is an authentic Vampire Killing kit from 200 years ago.  

I actually have heard that the above kit is a fake.  Either way it is a damn nifty example of an apothecary kit.  

This is what I came up with:
VITRIOL (side view)
A little bit of this.  A little bit of that.  A little seltzer in your pants.
By the way before I go any further I should mention a little something about the title of the piece: VITRIOL.  
 Alchemical Chart of Vitriol
It is an alchemical term that is actually an acronym for "Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem ("Visit the Interior Parts of the Earth; by Rectification Thou Shalt Find the Hidden Stone." 
Another chart of Vitriol
I'm not going to go in to great detail about it's meaning.  Basically it stems from the Alchemist's concept that by mixing elements you will find a divine source.   In this case the seven letters also represent the seven known planets and the corresponding metals:

 dominated by Sol ☉ ☼

Silver dominated by Luna 
Copper dominated by Venus ♀ 
Iron dominated by Mars ♂ 
Tin dominated by Jupiter ♃ 
Mercury (quicksilver) dominated by Mercury ☿ 
Lead dominated by Saturn  

Alchemy is a strange mixture of science and mysticism.  Okay enough of that...back to the piece...
Front view
I've also include a place where the user can write prescriptions, design odd critters, or devise alchemical formulas.
Take a memo
Let's take a peek inside the doors...
Cabinet door
Open Sesame
Inside I have filled it with lots of pseudo-medical goodies.  In this case I have some vials and yes a this case it started as a cow syringe....poor cows.
Bitter medicine
Oh I have to show you this drawer...
Eye of newt...
In this drawer, I found a place to keep all those false teeth I purchased in an Indonesian dental kit.   But thats not all...I finally found a spot for those mammal blood slides I've had floating around the studio.

Originally the box was a dressing kit.  So there is another interior aspect of this piece.  Originally it had a mirror.  
As you can see the mirror area got a bit altered.
Interior portrait
I wanted to transform the mirror into a portrait.  I wanted something very sideshow or snake oil salesman-esque.
Lets head back to the exterior.  I included a wheel of fortune which can be spun to see which bit of alchemy is necessary.   
Where it stops nobody knows
I used an old film editing device for the wheel spinner.
Back view and wheel spinning device
 Anyway this is the kind of thing we will be making in New Orleans.  Hope you join me.  If you want more info:

Hope you enjoyed the tour


Mary Ann Jones said...

Love it! I've been signed up for your NOLA workshop for months!

azirca said...

How freakin' awesome! Your work is so inspiring. Your ability to make everything fit so cohesively together is such a talent. Kudos to you!

Anonymous said...

"Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho"

stay warm Michael.
my head is spinning with ideas.
thanks for awe inspiring workshop.
i'm buying your books for my Solstice present from the Holly King!

yona c. riel said...

pretty fricken awesome.. i love all that weird old circus/carnivale stuff and this piece has serious circus-try.. u know what i mean..

Kathy said...

love this alchemy kit! Yesterday I was in an antique architechtural elements store, right by the entrance they have "Esmerelda" a fortune telling figue in a glass case...very cool. would love to see Nawlins with y'all...kathy

Christine Edwards said...

Oh my gosh...what an incredible piece! I don't know whether to be inspired or intimidated. Still on the prowl for a good box. Guess we're just about two months away, Yea!

luthien said...

oh wow!! that is AMAZING!! you are a genius!

Jo Archer said...

Hey buddy, I've been out of action for a while, but just wanted to say that I love the new 'alchemy' work. Little hidden drawers and and doors always a winner for me. Fab stuff. x

Ottilias Veranda said...

Drop Dead Gorgeous!! I just love old mysterious boxes and the alchemy / apotechary theme!! I wish New Orleans was closer...I just have to try it on my own here in this mixed media outpost where I live! Waaaahaaaa....

spindelmaker said...

This is so cool! You are so inspiring! Make me want to go treasure-hunting and whip out the paint! :-)

kecia said...

Oh I love how you used THE HAND! see i knew you could put it to good use - it looks amazing there.

see you oct!


Michelle@MixedMediaArt said...

I love the circles in the background of the first two pieces. Your work is inspiring!

LissC said...

I've seen the vampire kit some place else, don't remember where. I was wondering if it could really be real. Either way I'm with you, real or fake, it is pretty cool!

betweenreader said...

I think buried somewhere in my trove are more slides -- let me see if I can find them. If I can, they are yours!

betweenreader said...

Michael, do you want some more slides -- I found the other set floating around in my mess. Starch grains with labels? Ain't it funny how things that you wonder why you got 'em end up coming so handy?

Parabolic Muse said...

Okay, I don't know what to say. And you know (or maybe you don't) that almost never ever happens in a gazillion years.

Just reading about the name had my head spinning. Nothing really brought out the guacamole, but your mention of Carnivale made me tingly with delight. Can't believe they cut that series. I think maybe they scared themselves.

Your colors! boffo. But the thing that set my teeth on edge for some reason is that syringe. I don't know why. I honestly don't think I could stay in the same room with it.

(oh, and btw, thanks for letting me out)

Parabolic Muse said...

okay, I guess I did know what to say. but not at first. that's my point.

Celiagart (Lucy F.) said...

I love it, i love it, i love it !!!