Monday, January 30, 2012

The Richard Harris Collection

Art collector Richard Harris, while visiting an art fair in 2001 in the Netherlands about the inevitability of death, had an epiphany of sorts. Why not start collecting art that deals with death as its theme? More than a decade later Harris now owns over 1500 pieces of art and artifacts that deal with the subject of death.  I think Harris should be an honorary pallimed member, since our mission has been to explore all things art and humanities, related to the subject of death.

Harris's art works are really a Memento Mori or "remember you will die" collection. The representation of death is that of a skeleton, rather than a depiction of the process of dying itself. The symbolism still invites the viewer to examine death and contemplate mortality, while still being somewhat removed.  Harris, age 74, told an interviewer that the collection also provides him with inspiration, he said that, "before I do die, before death does come to me...I should put together something of an overall view of death from my perspective."

The collection spans over 6,000 years in time, with historical as well as contemporary works. There are artifacts and photographs and cultural materials all exploring death. Starting January 28 and running through July 8 some of Harris's massive collection will be displayed at the Chicago Cultural Center in an exhibit entitled, "Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection"

To read more about the exhibit and learn more about Richard Harris visit the Chicago Cultural Center.  To see a few more images of his collection go here.

 All images are part of the Richard Harris Collection. 

Monday, January 30, 2012 by Amy Clarkson · 1

Monday, January 23, 2012

To the Moon

Thanks to Drew Rosielle who sent me a link to this video game. I am not big on playing video games. I figure one person in our household (my husband) being obsessed with them is enough. There's just too much action for me, and my lack of hand-eye coordination prevents me from ever being successful when I have tried. This game, To the Moon, is a different type of game and fits right in with other Pallimed topics.

To the Moon is an "indie adventure RPG". (My husband tells me that RPG means role playing game.) In this world, there is a procedure that physicians can do in which they go back into a patient's mind and implant a new memory, thereby giving someone their fondest wish. Or really the false memory of having gotten their fondest wish. The procedure is very risky as pre-existing memories can conflict with the newly planted ones. They only ever do this when someone is on their death bed.

"And if all goes well, they would wake up, having lived the dream life they never had, and embrace a brief moment of blissful fulfillment. Shortly after, they’d draw their last breath."

This game follows Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts as they work their way back through the memories of an elderly man, Johnny. The new memories have to be implanted in childhood. Each of Johnny's memories they go through is an interactive scene. Through the memories they try to figure out why Johnny chose this specific wish, to go to the moon.

Below is a trailer for the game.

How horrible is it that one of my first thoughts was that insurance totally wouldn't pay for this.

It sounds like a sweet and interesting game. How interesting would it be to be able to go back through the memories of my patients and see what really motivated them in life and what shaped their dreams. Kind of A Christmas Carol-esque but in third person instead of first.

I haven't had the opportunity to attempt to play it yet but you can purchase it on their website or just download a sample. The game also has a beautiful original soundtrack. Below is the main song, but many of the songs can be heard here.

Thanks again Drew. This was a great find.

Monday, January 23, 2012 by Amber Wollesen, MD · 0

Monday, January 9, 2012

Julie Williams

I am often drawn to artists who have experienced death and then use their work to process the loss.  Julie Williams is just such a person.  She is an Australian photo-artist, who in 2004 lost her partner.  In an effort to work through her grief, Williams began to visit familiar places in nature.  One spot she kept returning to, was a waterhole in the Hartley Valley.  It seemed that as a drought back in 2004 the valley ended, and the River Lett began to flow again, her grief also moved with it.  She picked up her camera and began to photograph the water, the light, and the movement.

Each time she returned over the next weeks, months and then years, the waterhole was different. A metaphor for her journey, that grief seems to change moment by moment, just as the water flow changed.  The subject matter itself, being water, is somewhat symbolic of grief - as we think of tears being shed, of streams down someone's cheeks.  Williams herself has pointed out that even the images, elusive and inexplicable, can be like grief itself. 

These works were on display this fall, entitled "When first knew this place" at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo, NSW, Australia.  Williams says of the title, "The grief pulled me up, the water drew me in and that was when I began to really see. It was when first I knew this place."   When asked about her upcoming plans, Williams told an interviewer that she wasn't done with the waterhole yet, that it continues to keep drawing her back.

Personally, I enjoy seeing images of every day surroundings,  portrayed in such a way that they appear magical, moving, or unrecognizable.  These images then to me, are aesthetic and mean even more in the context of grief.

To see a complete collection of the artists works, visit her page here.
The above images are "Untitled # 3" and "Untitled # 21", both copyright 2011 Julie Williams

Monday, January 9, 2012 by Amy Clarkson · 0