Sunday, May 3, 2015

Placebos, Nocebos and Voodoo Medicine! The Four Humours as Told With Cocktails! Early Popular Science Films! Upcoming Morbid Anatomy Events

We have many wonderful newly announced events this week, including an evening of early popular science films with with Oliver Gaycken, author of Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema and Popular Science (May 27th, more here); a night devoted to the psychology of magic with Robert Teszka (July 2nd, more here); the theory and history of the four humours as told with cocktails with Michael Goyette PhD (July 9th, more here), and Placebos, Nocebos and Voodoo Medicine with Mark W Green, MD (July 22; more here).

We also have lots of great events taking place this very week, including a lecture on religion and anatomy in carved cadaver sculptures with Christina Welch, University of Winchester (Thursday, May 7th, more here); X-Ray Audio: a lecture, screening and listening party devoted to soviet bootleg records made from old x-rays with Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld, sponsored by Art in the Age (Friday, May 8th; more here); a book party to celebrate our good friend Dr. Paul Koudounaris's newest offering Memento Mori (Saturday, May 9th, more info here; please note:  event is free, but space is limited. First come first served!); The Mystique Boutique's Sideshow of Magic and Wonder "Ten-in-One" Variety Show (Sunday, May 10th, more here); and The Lost Museums Symposium: a symposium on the ephemerality and afterlife of museums and collections (offsite at Brown University and RISD, Providence, Rhode Island May 6-8; More here).
 
Full list of upcoming events follows; events tend to sell out, so we highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance!

The Morbid Anatomy Museum is a non-profit, andlike most non-profits, we do not cover our overhead with revenue alone, but depend on donations and memberships to survive. If you appreciate what we do, please consider becoming a member or making a fully tax deductible donation today. Donations can be made here, and you can become a member--with assorted perks such as discounted admissions and free museum entry by clicking here.

IMMEDIATELY UPCOMING EVENTS
  • Morbidly Drawn Anatomy: A Night of Drawing and Drinking 
    Monday, May 4th, 8pm - 10pm, $15, SOLD OUT. 
  • The Lost Museums Symposium, May 6-8, Brown and RISD, Providence, Rhode Island
    May 6-8, OFFSITE at Brown University and RISD, Providence, Rhode Island
    A symposium on the ephemerality and afterlife of museums and collections with talks by artist Rosamund Purcell and Morbid Anatomy Museum Creative Director Joanna Ebenstein. More here.
  • Anatomy, Religion, and English Late-Medieval Carved Cadaver Sculptures with Dr. Christina Welch, senior lecturer at the University of Winchester, UK
    Thursday, May 7th, 8pm, $8, Tickets and info 
    here.
     
  • The X-Ray Audio Project: The Incredible Story of Bootleg Technology, Cold War Culture and Human Endeavour Lecture, screening and listening party with Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld and Aleks Kolkowsi
    Complementary cocktails provided by Art in the Age
    Friday, May 8th, 8pm, $12, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Memento Mori: Book Launch and Lecture with Paul Koudounaris
    Saturday, May 9th, 8pm, FREE (limited seating), more info here. 
  • The Mystique Boutique's Sideshow of Magic and Wonder "Ten-in-One" Variety Show. 
    Sunday, May 10th, 12pm - 6pm, $5, Tickets (and more info) here.
NEWLY ANNOUNCED EVENTS
  • Devices of Curiosity: An Evening of Early Popular Science Films
    Wednesday, May 27th 8pm - 10pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Now You See It, Now You Don't: The Psychology of Magic, an Illustrated Lecture with Robert Teszka
    Thursday, July 2nd, 8pm - 10pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • The Right Mixture: The Theory and History of the Four Humours (as told with cocktails), an Illustrated lecture with Michael Goyette, PhD
    Thursday, July 9th, 8pm - 10pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Placebos, Nocebos and Voodoo Medicine, An Illustrated Lecture with Mark W Green MD, FAAN Professor of Neurology, Anesthesiology, and Rehabilitation Medicine
    Wednesday, July 22nd, 8pm - 10pm, Tickets (and more info) here.
ALL UPCOMING EVENTS
  • Morbidly Drawn Anatomy: A Night of Drawing and Drinking 
    Monday, May 4th, 8pm - 10pm, $15, SOLD OUT. 
  • The Lost Museums Symposium, May 6-8, Brown and RISD, Providence, Rhode Island
    May 6-8, OFFSITE at Brown and RISD, Providence, Rhode Island

    A symposium on the ephemerality & afterlife of museums and collections with talks by artist Rosamund Purcell and Morbid Anatomy Museum Creative Director Joanna Ebenstein. More here.
  • Anatomy, Religion, and English Late-Medieval Carved Cadaver Sculptures with Dr. Christina Welch, senior lecturer at the University of Winchester, UK
    Thursday, May 7th, 8pm, $8, Tickets and info 
    here
     
  • The X-Ray Audio Project: The Incredible Story of Bootleg Technology, Cold War Culture and Human Endeavour Lecture, screening and listening party with Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld and Aleks Kolkowsi
    Complementary cocktails provided by Art in the Age
    Friday, May 8th, 8pm, $12, Tickets (and more info) here 
  • Memento Mori: Book Launch and Lecture with Paul Koudounaris
    Saturday, May 9th, 8pm, FREE (limited seating), more info here 
  • The Mystique Boutique's Sideshow of Magic and Wonder "Ten-in-One" Variety Show. 
    Sunday, May 10th, 12pm - 6pm, $5, Tickets (and more info) here
  • The American Tattooed Ladies: 1840-2015 An Illustrated Lecture with Anni Irish
    Tuesday, May 12th, 8pm, $8, Tickets and info 
    here
  • Without Sympathy: An Evening of Goth / Industrial / Post Punk and Various Waves with Vinyl Dance Party Thursday 
    Tuesday, May 14th, 9pm - Wednesday, May 15 12am, $5, SOLD OUT.
  • Amsterdam Anatomy Weekend at the Vrolik Museum
    Friday, May 15th – Sunday, May 17th. OFFSITE: The Vrolik Museum; Amsterdam, The Netherlands, €35 to €75, Tickets (and more info) here.
  • Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class, One or Two Headed! with Divya Anantharaman 
    Saturday, May 16th, 12pm - 6pm, $110 for one, $125 for two headed (all tickets include admission to the museum), SOLD OUT.
  • Torah Animal World Taxidermy Museum Field Trip
    Sunday, May 17th, 1:45pm - 3pm, OFFSITE: 1605 41 Street, Brooklyn, NY (Ditmas Ave, F train), $15, SOLD OUT.
  • English Sparrow Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Sunday, May 17th, 12pm - 6:30pm, $195 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • The Ragged Antique Phonograph Program LIVE on WFMU from Morbid Anatomy Museum 
    Tuesday, May 19th, 6:30pm - 9pm, $5, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Psychedelics and Death: A Brief Introduction: An Illustrated Lecture with Psychotherapist Dr. Neal Goldsmith
    Thursday, May 21st, 8pm, $8
    SOLD OUT.
  • Mirror, Black Mirror: A Book Launch and Illustrated lecture with Artist Camille Rose Garcia 
    Friday, May 22nd,  8pm,  $5
    Tickets (and more info) here
  • Museums, Medicine, and Mesmerism: A Historical Walking Tour with Andrea Jane, Borough of the Dead
    Saturday, May 23rd, 3pm -5pm, OFFSITE: Meet at the southernmost entrance to City Hall Park (at Broadway & Park Row), $20, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Squirrel Shoulder Mount or Pedestal Mount Class with Katie Innamorato
    Sunday, May 24th 12pm - 6pm, $275 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Devices of Curiosity: An Evening of Early Popular Science Films with Oliver Gaycken, author of Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema and Popular Science
    Wednesday, May 27th 8pm - 10pm, Tickets (and more info) here.
  • A Desire for Dramaticism: Semiotics of the 1980s Goth Subculture: An illustrated lecture with Andi Harriman
    Thursday, May 28th, 8pm, $8, 
    SOLD OUT.
  • H.P. Lovecraft Brooklyn Guided Tour with Jane Rose
    Saturday, May 30th, 10:30am, OFFSITE: Meet at Parkside and Ocean Ave, right outside Prospect Park Entrance, $20, SOLD OUT.
  • Psychedelics and Death: A Brief Introduction. An Illustrated Lecture with Psychotherapist Dr. Neal 
    Friday, June 5th, 8pm, $8, SOLD OUT.
  • Anthropomorphic Rabbit Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman 
    Saturday, June 6th, 12pm - 7pm, $300 (includes admission to the museum), SOLD OUT
  • Fancy Chicken Taxidermy Class with Divya Anatharaman
    Sunday, June 7th, 12pm - 7pm, $400 (includes admission to the museum), SOLD OUT
  • Capulet Gynecologist, Montague Onanist: Medieval Sex, Renaissance Death, and Romeo and Juliet. An Illustrated Lecture with Lois Leveen 
    Thursday June 11th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop with Daisy Tainton Saturday 
    Saturday, June 13th, 1pm - 4 pm, $75, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Tarantula Preservation Class Thursday with Divya Anantharaman
    Thursday, June 18th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm, $80 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here.
  • A Desire for Dramaticism: Semiotics of the 1980s Goth Subculture: An illustrated lecture with Andi Harriman 
    Tuesday, June 23rd, 8pm - 10 pm, $8, SOLD OUT.
  • "Witchcraft Through the Ages” (Haxan) – Polka music! Butter Churns!! 16mm silent film screening with Victrola!!! Presented and choreographed by Joel Schlemowitz 
    Thursday, June 25th, 8pm, $8, SOLD OUT.
  • "Witchcraft Through the Ages” (Haxan) – Polka music! Butter Churns!! 16mm silent film screening with Victrola!!! Presented and choreographed by Joel Schlemowitz 
    Thursday, June 26th, 8pm, $8, SOLD OUT.
  • Now You See It, Now You Don't: The Psychology of Magic, an Illustrated Lecture with Robert Teszka 
    Thursday, July 2nd, 8pm - 10pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • The Right Mixture: The Theory and History of the Four Humours (as told with cocktails), an Illustrated lecture with Michael Goyette, PhD 
    Thursday, July 9th, 8pm - 10pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Psychedelics and Death: A Brief Introduction. An Illustrated Lecture with Psychotherapist Dr. Neal  
    Friday July 10th, 8pm - 10pm, $8, SOLD OUT.
  • Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class, One or Two Headed! with Divya Anantharaman
    Saturday, July 11th, 12pm - 6pm, $110 for one, $125 for two headed (all tickets include admission to the museum), SOLD OUT
  • Chick Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman 
    Sunday, July 12th, 12pm-6:30pm,  $185 for one, $200 for two headed (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Stolen Armor, Bullet Sculptures, Photos of the Dead: Soldiers' Souvenirs, or The Things They Carried (Home). A Panel with Joanna Scutts, Lauren Walsh and Susan Harlan 
    Tuesday July 14th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here

  • Placebos, Nocebos and Voodoo Medicine, An Illustrated Lecture with Mark W Green MD, FAAN Professor of Neurology, Anesthesiology, and Rehabilitation Medicine 
    Wednesday, July 22nd, 8pm - 10pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Jackalope Taxidermy Class with Katie Innamorato 
    Saturday, July 25th, 12pm - 6pm, $250 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Rat/Guinea Pigs Taxidermy Class with Katie Innamorato 
    Sunday, July 26th, 12pm - 6pm, $200 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here 
  • Chipmunk Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Saturday, August 1st, 12pm - 6pm, $185 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Skunk Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Sunday, August 2nd, 12pm - 6pm, $450 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Evening Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman 
    Wednesday, August 5th, 6:30pm - 10:30pm, $110 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Starling Taxidermy Class with Katie Innamorato 
    Saturday, August 22nd, 12pm - 6pm, $275 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Rat/ Guinea Pig with Wings Gaff Taxidermy Class with Katie Innamorato 
    Sunday, August 23rd, 12pm - 6pm, $235 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Hannibal Lecter, Book Collector, An Illustrated Lecture with Elisabeth Brander, Rare Book Librarian at Washington University 
    Thursday, October 8th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here
Image: Advertising panel portraying a pregnant female figure with the child, uterus and vagina labelled. Salvaged in August 2010, the six panels formed the walls of the shack of a vodoo (voodoo, vodou, vodun) practitioner in the town of Adjarra. The population attends a flourishing vodoo market where medical practitioners have dried animal parts, carved statuettes and other fetishistic items available for medicinal purposes. The paintings advertise the diseases and parts of the body which the practitioner claims to cure through sorcery and animal sacrifices that call upon the spirit world. Via Wellcome Images.

Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future: An Interview with Paleofuture's Matt Novak by Cristina Preda


Following is a guest post by Cristina Preda in which she interviews Matt Novak of the Paleofuture blog about one of her favorite books residing in the Morbid Anatomy Library: Corn and Horrigan's Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future.
In 1984, the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. opened Yesterday’s Tomorrows, an exhibition showcasing hundreds of objects and ephemera from the American mid-century as they pertained to people’s visions of the future, and a book by the same name was published as a companion. Written by the exhibit’s curators, historians Joseph J. Corn and Brian Horrigan, Yesterday’s Tomorrows explores the communities, homes, transportation, weapons and warfare of our supposed future. Copies of the book eventually found their way into the Morbid Anatomy Library and into the hands of Matt Novak, writer of Gizmodo’s Paleofuture blog. I spoke to Matt recently about American retro-futures, collecting, and how an exhibit he never saw changed his life. 
How did you come to discover Yesterday’s Tomorrows? 
Back in 2007 I was finishing up school at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and was looking for a topic for a blog for this class I had started. It was a writing class where you start a blog, and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. There’d been this idea that I’d been thinking about for a long time which was how people of the past imagined the future. So, I started the blog and expected it to be just something that would run its course through the class. The more I researched it, the more I loved the topic, and I came across this book called Yesterday’s Tomorrows which really helped solidify that this was something worth exploring further. After I was done with school, I reached out to one of the authors of the book, Brian Horrigan, and it turned out he lived literally a mile down the street from me. 
You mentioned that he gifted you some of the artifacts from the original exhibit. What were they?
Some books and magazines, some really unique one-of-a-kind stuff like personal letters from Buckminster Fuller, some photos. [Brian Horrigan] interviewed Buckminster Fuller shortly before he died in the early eighties and gave me some recordings from that, illustrations and photos from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, film stills from old futuristic movies like Things To Come, old newspaper clippings, and a bunch of things he used to help do the Smithsonian exhibit and the book.  
Did you consider yourself a collector prior to receiving those items?
I was kind of a collector before that. I almost immediately started buying old books and magazines. Part of the mission of the blog was to introduce new things to the internet. So many people think of blogging as just regurgitating images and reblogging, and I was trying to digitize stuff to help contribute to the strange, beautiful, weird thing that we call the internet. I think that’s part of why I was lucky enough to be successful with it. I was putting stuff online that people hadn’t seen yet. 
What is your most prized item?
That’s a tough question! There’s this one letter from Buckminster Fuller that’s written in his own hand. My favorite part about it is he underlines the year 1974 and puts a couple exclamation points after it. I just love that detail that speaks to his excitement that it’s the future. I have a couple video phones from the 1980s. I’m obsessed with the video phone because it’s something that arrived but not in the form that we expected. I think that that’s what makes it interesting—that even if someone is absolutely correct the prediction is often in the eye of the beholder. 
A lot of architectural imagery up until the 50s depicts these grand vertical sprawls with impossibly tall buildings interconnected by bridges and roadways. After WWII, communities begin to sprawl outward. Would you agree that the shift was informed by, say, McCarthyism and espousing the virtues of American capitalism and individualism? And in this regard, does the role of prognosticators become implicitly entangled with toeing the party line?
If you’re looking at consumer-based futurism, of course there’s a certain aspect of conformity. I think I take issue with the idea that the first half of the 20th century was only about moving upward. That’s certainly a vision of the future that architects embraced, especially in the 20s with the huge rise of the skyscrapers. But there’s significant pushback when you look at Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision of utopian futuristic society in the 1930s. His Broadacre scheme was a scheme to push people out—it was an early vision of suburban America. We often like to think that a dominant narrative of any given era’s futurism is the only one. We have to remind ourselves that people in any given generation don’t all think alike. I fall into this trap everyday and I have to continually pull myself back and remind myself that no matter how dominant a narrative was, there was always someone who said, “wait a second here, this not how it should be done and this is not how it’s going to be.” 
I noticed that the workplace of tomorrow is missing from the book and that struck me as odd since Americans are so work-obsessed. You talk about this in The Late Great American Promise of Less Work. What happened that made it so un-American to imagine a less laborious future?
It seems to me that we have decided that it’s un-American to aspire to work less, which is very strange. Even people in the 1950s and 60s who were conservatively-minded believed that taking long vacations was a sign that you were doing something right. There does seem to be this incredible shift that happens in the second half of the 20th century where it’s no longer the ideal, where desiring to work less so that you can either spend more time at leisure or with your family is somehow seen as un-American. It’s disconcerting, especially given that we don’t have the same rights that a lot of other developed nations do when it comes to maternity leave and guaranteed vacation time. It’s almost as if there’s been a narrative that has totally warped and is currently poisoning our culture that the only thing you should aspire to is to work yourself to death.
Do you think there’s any getting back to that mid-century dream?
I don’t see the tide turning any time soon, but I think it very well could if the wealth gap continues to grow. So much of our current troubles have to do with that wealth gap, and if it continues to to grow there will be people who realize that government does have a role to play in certain things such as parental leave. These are basic things that every other developed country has figured out that aren’t even on the national agenda.  
Regarding the home of tomorrow, you point out that people in those years were preoccupied with protecting their homes from the elements. How much of that had to do with actual comfort and how much was escapism vis-a-vis fear of nuclear warfare?
There was almost a “fallout shelter chic” to a lot of things. You see this in a lot of mid-century modern design. 
You’ve promised to eat the sun if the AeroMobil flying car is actually released to the public in two years. I agree with your points as to why it won’t happen. It’s so impractical that it’s stupid, and we need to get over the flying car. Where would you like to see future transportation go instead?
Personally, a combination of more mass transit and better alternative fuel for passenger cars. I live in LA, and for a couple years I didn’t have a car which astounded people. 
The last chapter in the book deals with the weapons and warfare of the future. Have we accepted that war is just inevitable for life on earth, or do we like it? I feel like futurism, and especially retrofuturism, is generally so optimistic that it’s eery. Why aren’t we imagining peace? Why are we just thinking of better, bigger ways to bomb everyone?
I think because our economy depends so much on it that we can’t imagine any other way. There’s a couple different angles by which to approach this. One is to look at removing troops from the battlefield. That was one tactic of making war less horrific. There were some visions of the future from the 1930s where giant robots would do battle, and that plays into the idea of remote war. You’re seeing this a lot today where someone sitting at a computer screen is controlling a drone halfway around the world, and that’s really not a new idea but it is one that’s becoming very much a reality in a lot of aspects of warfare today. We’re also seeing that those tactics don’t necessarily work better when it comes to defeating an enemy. When you can’t see the enemy you don’t know if you’re bombing your intended target or a mass of school children. There’s also this idea that we see time and again of people who thought that if you make war so horrific it would no longer be a thing. Nuclear weapons would make war so horrific that nations would no longer go to war, which obviously wasn’t the case. And the same goes for other futuristic weapons—let’s make things so bad that there’ll just be a stalemate and no one would ever go to war. Obviously, that never pans out. 
Joseph Corn’s challenge to you was that you never accept preconceived notions about people and their attitudes toward the future. What advice would you give someone just beginning to approach this field today?
I would say if you’re interested in this topic, look in unusual places for aspects of futurism. It’s so easy to pick up a sci-fi book from the 50s and say this is a vision of the future. What interests me more these days are weird nooks and crannies where you can find a lot of interesting futurisms in areas you wouldn’t expect. This is what makes the topic so fascinating to me. It’s not just flying cars and jetpacks. There’s the futurism of social movements, the futurism of utopian communities, the futurism of pets. You can look at any topic and there’s people who had predictions about that particular area and had some really unique ways of looking at it. The study of past futures has definitely matured since I started eight years ago, and you can find all sorts of weird stories in places you wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be. 
IMAGE LIST
  1. Illustration from Hugo Gernsback’s Ralph 124C 41+ by Frank R. Paul, 1925
  2. “Trade Your Troubles for a Bubble,” back cover from Amazing Stories, 1946
  3. Rick Guidice, “Sport in Space Colony,” circa 1977
  4. Syd Mead, “Megastructure,” circa 1969
  5. Still from the H.G. Wells film Things to Come, 1936.
  6. Un voyage dans la lune, 1902.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art, 1760-1860, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Through July 26, 2015



When in New Haven for the joint Medical Museums Association/American Association for the History of Medicine meeting, I was lucky enough to see, with Michael Sappol and Eva Åhrén, the wonderful exhibition The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art, 1760-1860 at the Yale University Art Gallery. A fabulous and thought provoking exhibition drawing from the rich collections of The Yale Center for British Art, and intending to challenge "the traditional notion of the Romantic artist as a brooding genius given to introversion and fantasy. Instead, the exhibition’s eight thematic sections juxtapose arresting works that reveal the Romantics as attentive explorers of their natural and cultural worlds."

Some highlights: (in order, top to bottom): a tempera painting by William Blake of the Madonna and Child from 1825; hand-painted pages from Blake's "America. A Prophecy," 1793; John Martin's "The Deluge," 1834; "A Lion Attacking a Horse," 1762, by George Stubbs; and James Gillray's "The Blood of the Murdered Crying for Vengeance," 1793.

I highly recommend going to see this exhibition if you can! Its up through July 26, 2015. You can find out more--and see more images!--here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

X-Ray Audio: Guest Post by Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld

Below is a guest post in which our good friend Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld tells the fascinating story of what he terms "X-Ray Audio," aka Soviet-era bootleg records made from second hand X-Ray plates and containing forbidden western music such as jazz and rock and roll; See images above for a few examples.

On Friday, May 8th, Coates and Aleks Kolkowski will teach us more about the subject in an image, film and sound filled presentation at The Morbid Anatomy Museum entitled The X-Ray Audio Project: The Incredible story of Bootleg Technology, Cold War Culture and Human Endeavour, sponsored by Art in the Age spirits. You can find out more  here. You can also find more about Coates' project--and see more images and hear audio!--on his X-Ray Audio project website by clicking here.
X-RAY AUDIO
They are images of pain and damage inscribed with the ghostly sounds of forbidden pleasure. They are fragile pictures of the inside of Soviet citizens overlayed with the music they secretly loved. I first saw one when I was wandering in a market in St. Petersburg a few years ago with Russian friends. It looked somewhat like record and somewhat like an x-ray. My friends didn't know what it was and the man who sold it to me seemed dismissive.  I brought it home and tried to learn more. My research was the beginning of journey that led to a strange and poignant story. It is a story of Forbidden Culture, Bootleg technology and most of all, of Human Endeavor.  
In the Soviet Union in the years after the Second World War, a lot of music was forbidden. Most Western music was forbidden just because it was Western. The official reason given might be that it was decadent or bourgeois, but really it was just because it was American or British and we were the enemy. A lot of Russian music was also forbidden. Anything made by emigres, those White Russians who had left after the revolution, was off-limits because by definition they were considered traitors, whatever their repertoire and even if they had once been approved of. And much domestic Russian music was forbidden, or at the very least deemed 'unofficial'. Why?
From 1932, all Soviet art, literature, poetry, film and music was subject to a censor. The ideologues of the Soviet Union determined that all the arts had to be in the service of socialist realism. Self expression was out. Much popular  music, especially those in the  'criminal' or 'gyspy' genres were deemed to be 'low culture' and would not pass the censor.  Perhaps it showed the dark side of Socialist Realism or portrayed violence, jealousy or the rough and tumble of love and lust and life.  Even certain rhythms such as the foxtrot and tango were forbidden as they were said to lead to lewd behaviour and general frivolity.
But people had a huge  desire to hear this music, it was their culture. They wanted to hear songs that were played in the gulag or sung by those who had returned; songs from earlier, less-controlled times; songs by artists who they had once loved  but were now forbidden, even songs they had heard played by a local singer at a secret concert. And of course there was a demand for the exotic, cool sounds of Western music: boogie-woogie; rock & roll or jazz. But official records of this music would be rare and very expensive. And so a bootleg culture arose.
We had such a culture in the West too once  - illicit live recordings of concerts made on vinyl or tape in the days before the internet changed everything. But even if illegal, these were relatively easy to make. In the Soviet Union after the war, it was not so easy. The bootleggers' first technical problem, obtaining a machine to record with, was relatively straightforward. Literature existed from the 1930s explaining recording techniques and various recording machines had been brought back from Germany as trophies after the war. These could be adapted or copied but a further problem existed. You couldn't just go and buy the discs to record on. The state completely controlled the means of manufacturing records.
But an extraordinary alternative source of raw materials was discovered - used x-ray plates obtained from local hospitals. And that is where this story begins. Many older people in Russia remember seeing strange vinyl-type discs when they were young. The discs had partial images of skeletons on them and were called 'bones' or 'ribs'. They contained ghostly music - music that had been forbidden. This practice of copying music onto x-rays got going in Leningrad, a port where it was easier to obtain illicit records, but it spread, first to Moscow and then throughout the Soviet Union. 
With the photographer Paul Heartfield, for the last couple of years I have been interviewing and collecting images for The X-Ray Audio project, an initiative to record the testimony of people who were involved in this incredible trade. As well as live events, an exhibition and a documentary, we will be publishing a book about the x-ray bootlegs and the people who made them with Strange Attractor Press in Autumn 2015.
And we are also making new x-ray records. At our live events, sound artist and researcher Aleks Kolkowski cuts new plates using a vintage analogue record-cutting lathe from music written especially for the occasion - or from live performances
X-Ray Audio is a story about strange skeletal flexi-discs for sure, but it is really a story of people. People for whom music held a value it probably never can for us. People for who the sound of the music they really loved was only available 'off the bone'.
Stephen Coates
www.x-rayaudio.squarespace.com
Images: X-Ray Records, Photos by Paul Heartfield

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Shocked and Amazed with Jeff Krulik, director of "Heavy Metal Parking Lot!" Torah Animal World Field Trip! Hannibal Lector, Book Collector! Upcoming Morbid Anatomy Events

We have many wonderful new events to announce this week, including a field trip to Torah Animal World museum (Sunday, May 17th, more here), a lecture on "Medieval Sex, Renaissance Death, and Romeo and Juliet" (Thursday June 11th; more here), a panel discussion on soldiers' souvenirs (Tuesday July 14th, more here), and a talk entitled "Hannibal Lecter, Book Collector" by Elisabeth Brander, Rare Book Librarian at Washington University (Thursday October 8th, more here).

We also have lots of great events taking place this week, including Shocked and Amazed: The Unseen Footage with Jeff Krulik, director of "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" (Tuesday, April 28th, more here); Victorian Hair Art workshop with master jewelery Karen Bachmann (Saturday, May 2nd; more here), and a night of drinking and drawing (Monday, May 4th; more here).

Full list of upcoming events follows; hope to see you at one or more!

The Morbid Anatomy Museum is a non-profit, andlike most non-profits, we do not cover our overhead with revenue alone, but depend on donations and memberships to survive. If you appreciate what we do, please consider becoming a member or making a fully tax deductible donation today. Donations can be made here, and you can become a member--with assorted perks such as discounted admissions and free museum entry by clicking here.

IMMEDIATELY UPCOMING EVENTS
  • Shocked and Amazed: The Unseen Footage with Jeff Krulik, director of "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" 
    Tuesday, April 28th, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) 
    here
  • DELVE Networking: DEATH + ART
    Wednesday, April 29, 7pm - 9pm, $10, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Victorian Hair Art Workshop with Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann
    Saturday, May 2nd, 11 – 6 PM, $150 (Includes admission to The Morbid Anatomy Museum), Tickets (and more info) 
    here
     
  • Morbidly Drawn Anatomy: A Night of Drawing and Drinking 
    Monday, May 4th, 8pm - 10pm, $15, Tickets (and more info) here
NEWLY ANNOUNCED EVENTS
  • Torah Animal World Taxidermy Museum Field Trip
    Sunday, May 17th, 1:45pm - 3pm, OFFSITE: 1605 41 Street, Brooklyn, NY (Ditmas Ave, F train), $15, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Capulet Gynecologist, Montague Onanist: Medieval Sex, Renaissance Death, and Romeo and Juliet. An Illustrated Lecture with Lois Leveen
    Thursday June 11th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Stolen Armor, Bullet Sculptures, Photos of the Dead: Soldiers' Souvenirs, or The Things They Carried (Home). A Panel with Joanna Scutts, Lauren Walsh and Susan Harlan
    Tuesday July 14th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Hannibal Lecter, Book Collector, An Illustrated Lecture with Elisabeth Brander, Rare Book Librarian at Washington University
    Thursday October 8th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here
ALL UPCOMING EVENTS
  • Shocked and Amazed: The Unseen Footage with Jeff Krulik, director of "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" 
    Tuesday, April 28th, 8pm, $8, Tickets (and more info) 
    here
  • DELVE Networking: DEATH + ART
    Wednesday, April 29, 7pm - 9pm, $10, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Victorian Hair Art Workshop with Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann
    Saturday, May 2nd, 11 – 6 PM, $150 (Includes admission to The Morbid Anatomy Museum), Tickets (and more info) 
    here
     
  • Morbidly Drawn Anatomy: A Night of Drawing and Drinking 
    Monday, May 4th, 8pm - 10pm, $15, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Anatomy, Religion, and English Late-Medieval Carved Cadaver Sculptures with Dr. Christina Welch, senior lecturer at the University of Winchester, UK
    Thursday, May 7th, 8pm, $8, Tickets and info 
    here
     
  • The X-Ray Audio Project: The Incredible Story of Bootleg Technology, Cold War Culture and Human Endeavour Lecture, screening and listening party with Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld and Aleks Kolkowsi
    Complementary cocktails provided by Art in the Age
    Friday, May 8th, 8pm, $12, Tickets (and more info) here 
  • Memento Mori: Book Launch and Lecture with Paul Koudounaris
    Saturday, May 9th, 8pm, FREE (limited seating), more info here 
  • The Mystique Boutique's Sideshow of Magic and Wonder "Ten-in-One" Variety Show. 
    Sunday, May 10th, 12pm - 6pm, $5, Tickets (and more info) here
  • The American Tattooed Ladies: 1840-2015 An Illustrated Lecture with Anni Irish
    Tuesday, May 12th, 8pm, $8, Tickets and info 
    here
  • Without Sympathy: An Evening of Goth / Industrial / Post Punk and Various Waves with Vinyl Dance Party Thursday 
    Tuesday, May 14th, 9pm - Wednesday, May 15 12am, $5, SOLD OUT
  • Amsterdam Anatomy Weekend at the Vrolik Museum
    Friday, May 15th – Sunday, May 17th. OFFSITE: The Vrolik Museum; Amsterdam, The Netherlands, €35 to €75, Tickets (and more info) here.
  • Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class, One or Two Headed! with Divya Anantharaman 
    Saturday, May 16th, 12pm - 6pm, $110 for one, $125 for two headed (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Torah Animal World Taxidermy Museum Field Trip
    Sunday, May 17th, 1:45pm - 3pm, OFFSITE: 1605 41 Street, Brooklyn, NY (Ditmas Ave, F train), $15, Tickets (and more info) here
  • English Sparrow Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Sunday, May 17th, 12pm - 6:30pm, $195 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • The Ragged Antique Phonograph Program LIVE on WFMU from Morbid Anatomy Museum 
    Tuesday, May 19th, 6:30pm - 9pm, $5, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Psychedelics and Death: A Brief Introduction: An Illustrated Lecture with Psychotherapist Dr. Neal Goldsmith
    Thursday, May 21st, 8pm, $8
    SOLD OUT
  • Mirror, Black Mirror: A Book Launch and Illustrated lecture with Artist Camille Rose Garcia 
    Friday, May 22nd,  8pm,  $5
    Tickets (and more info) here
  • Museums, Medicine, and Mesmerism: A Historical Walking Tour with Andrea Jane, Borough of the Dead
    Saturday, May 23rd, 3pm -5pm, OFFSITE: Meet at the southernmost entrance to City Hall Park (at Broadway & Park Row), $20, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Squirrel Shoulder Mount or Pedestal Mount Class with Katie Innamorato
    Sunday, May 24th 12pm - 6pm, $275 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • A Desire for Dramaticism: Semiotics of the 1980s Goth Subculture: An illustrated lecture with Andi Harriman
    Thursday, May 28th, 8pm, $8, 
    SOLD OUT
  • H.P. Lovecraft Brooklyn Guided Tour with Jane Rose
    Saturday, May 30th, 10:30am, OFFSITE: Meet at Parkside and Ocean Ave, right outside Prospect Park Entrance, $20, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Psychedelics and Death: A Brief Introduction. An Illustrated Lecture with Psychotherapist Dr. Neal 
    Friday, June 5, 8pm, $8, SOLD OUT
  • Anthropomorphic Rabbit Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman 
    Saturday, June 6th, 12pm - 7pm, $300 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Capulet Gynecologist, Montague Onanist: Medieval Sex, Renaissance Death, and Romeo and Juliet. An Illustrated Lecture with Lois Leveen 
    Thursday June 11th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here.
  • Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop with Daisy Tainton Saturday 
    Saturday, June 13th, 1pm - 4 pm, $75, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Tarantula Preservation Class Thursday with Divya Anantharaman
    Thursday, June 18th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm, $80 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here.
  • A Desire for Dramaticism: Semiotics of the 1980s Goth Subculture: An illustrated lecture with Andi Harriman 
    Tuesday, June 23rd, 8pm - 10 pm, $8, SOLD OUT
  • "Witchcraft Through the Ages” (Haxan) – Polka music! Butter Churns!! 16mm silent film screening with Victrola!!! Presented and choreographed by Joel Schlemowitz 
    Thursday, June 25th, 8pm, $8, SOLD OUT; ADDITIONAL DATE ADDED JUNE 26
  • "Witchcraft Through the Ages” (Haxan) – Polka music! Butter Churns!! 16mm silent film screening with Victrola!!! Presented and choreographed by Joel Schlemowitz 
    Thursday, June 26th, 8pm, $8
    Tickets (and more info) here
  • Psychedelics and Death: A Brief Introduction. An Illustrated Lecture with Psychotherapist Dr. Neal  
    Friday July 10th, 8pm - 10pm, $8, SOLD OUT
  • Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class, One or Two Headed! with Divya Anantharaman
    Saturday, July 11th, 12pm - 6pm, $110 for one, $125 for two headed (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Chick Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman 
    Sunday, July 12th, 12pm-6:30pm,  $185 for one, $200 for two headed (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Anthropomorphic Insect Shadowbox Workshop with Daisy Tainton
    Saturday, June 13th, 1pm - 4pm, $75, Tickets (and more info) here
  • Stolen Armor, Bullet Sculptures, Photos of the Dead: Soldiers' Souvenirs, or The Things They Carried (Home). A Panel with Joanna Scutts, Lauren Walsh and Susan Harlan 
    Tuesday July 14th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here.   
  • Jackalope Taxidermy Class with Katie Innamorato 
    Saturday, July 25th, 12pm - 6pm, $250 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Rat/Guinea Pigs Taxidermy Class with Katie Innamorato 
    Sunday, July 26th, 12pm - 6pm, $200 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here 
  • Chipmunk Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Saturday, August 1st, 12pm - 6pm, $185 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Skunk Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman
    Sunday, August 2nd, 12pm - 6pm, $450 (includes admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Evening Anthropomorphic Mouse Taxidermy Class with Divya Anantharaman 
    Wednesday August 5th, 6:30pm - 10:30pm, $110 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Starling Taxidermy Class with Katie Innamorato 
    Saturday August 22nd, 12pm - 6pm, $275 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Rat/ Guinea Pig with Wings Gaff Taxidermy Class with Katie Innamorato 
    Sunday August 23rd, 12pm - 6pm, $235 (all tickets include admission to the museum), Tickets (and more info) here
  • Hannibal Lecter, Book Collector, An Illustrated Lecture with Elisabeth Brander, Rare Book Librarian at Washington University 
    Thursday October 8th, 8pm, Tickets (and more info) here.
Image: Wound Man, From Hans von Gersdorff's Feldtbuch der Wundartzney (Strasburg, 1519)