- Woundrous Instruments
- Crystallization & Drift
- The Skin & Bones Show
APRIL 2012 – JANUARY 2013
The Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata’s Spring 2012 exhibition HOUSE explores dwellings of all kinds. This exhibition is a little city that collects some interconnected examples of homes, atmospheres, greenhouses, guts, nests, wombs, and commodities that surround and preserve the development of sensations and life forms. Some are “natural,” created by ecological agents like animals, plants, and microbes. Others are “artificial”–economic artifacts ranging from air-conditioning machines to doll houses. And still others are “naturecultural,” existing only through relationships between all kinds of earthlings, like Ephemerata Gardens, where the HOUSE exhibition takes place.
SEE: A Feather from Homer the Homeless Goose, Live Nesting Yellow Crowned Night Heron, a Collection of Famous Bricks, and much MORE!
The words ecology and economy share the Greek root oikos, “house.” Economies and ecologies are nested in scalar arrays inside the biggest house of all – Earth, the biosphere, a fantastical superworld that contains all others, or more correctly has been made to contain them with maps, climate models, and photos from space. A house doubles as a world or cosmos, depending on the scale you experience it from, and losing your house can be the end of the world. Houses build and destroy other houses and worlds in order to come into existence. The difference between individual houses and worlds like the sky, soil, water, or language is that we live and breathe worlds. These worlds precede our inhabitation – whereas houses are things built to mark off parts of worlds as ours for living in. So how would you build a world-sized house? Let’s figure this out together!
JULY – NOVEMBER 2010
This Museum exhibition is an earthquake that rends the ground to expose the UNDERGROUND. A hole opens up, and we are walking down into the damp dark unknown. Descend into our show-cave through normally hidden strata! Beneath our city is a crowded metropolis of graves, pipes, cables, tunnels, sewers, and landfills, and as we travel down past the aquifer, a glowing lake of magma! The mysterious corridors of our subterranean journey branch off into political undergrounds, the subconscious, and the Underworld — lair of monsters, land of the dead. By spelunking through these passages, we come to learn that humans are strange creatures like earthworms, ceaselessly dedicated to the circulation of vast undergrounds! The earthquake of industrialized humans has reversed the strata of land and sky such that what was underground has become our atmosphere. Please watch your head for low-hanging rocks. Learn about the body as ambulatory geological formation, explore a Crystal Cavern, and see things dug up in our yard!
Object-evocations of Awe, Curiosity, and Wonder, however fleeting they may be!
NOVEMBER 2008 – MAY 2009
Homemade, Odd, or Rare Musical Instruments,
Exotic Tools of the Trade,
Miraculous and Magical Objects,
Weird Gadgets that “Make Life Easier,”
And Much More
Lift the Veil of Boredom that seperates you from the Wondrous Instruments all around us!
With just a little shift of perspective or a tiny bit of tinkering,
the ordinary prosthesis light up with extraordinary possibilities!
BIODIVERSITY! ODDITIES! GENUINE GAFFS!
JUNE – AUGUST 2008
An EXTRAVAGANZA of
A GUIDED TOUR through the
SEE GMO CORN – with Suicide Genes –
BEFORE it goes EXTINCT.
SEE PATCHES the TWO HEADED COW!
Feet chewed off by rats.
UV REACTIVE CAT FUR,
Straight from the Laboratory!
BALL of HAIR from a COW’s STOMACH!
Bovine Whig Factory?
Think the FEEJEE MERMAID was FAKE?
No Mutant Hormones: GUARANTEED.
A veritable WETLAND of NATURECULTURES; a SAFARI of DISPLAYS of SENTIENCE!
FEBRUARY – JUNE 2007
Welcome to the Animals exhibition at the Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata! An enchanting wilderzone of animal collection and undoubtedly the most singular ecocollage of its kind! See wildlife, feralife, and tamelife intertwine in a symbiotic thicket of biomass! A vast biopanorama in which you, too, are on display! Here the animals are more curious about you than you are them, and rather than being tamed, here they make humans wild!
Animals features over 25 loans from Austin collectors, a narwhal tooth replica, a weeping taxidermy crocodile, an aquarium, and millions of invisible animalculae! SEE a St. Croix hog drink canned beer! HEAR the electro-feral gibberish of our circuit-bent Furby! FEEL the astroturf beneath your feet as you tour the anti-menagerie!
Many thanks to the following collectors who loaned or donated items to Animals:
RK Anderson — Sundry Fossils
David Atherton — Mystery Bone
Greg Babby & Loniponi Logsdon —
Raccoon Baculum; Seahorse in a Bottle
Kari Banta — Monk Feathers
Kelly Bradford — Plastic Animals
Janet Davis — Munch-on-Mao
Elana Farley — Gentleman Dog
Deborah Femat — Aluminum Nutcracker
Lisa & Jessica Gailey — Rattlesnake Penholder
Amy Harrington — Macrame Octopus/Lady
AJ Hirt & Jason Revolinksi — Pet Boa Skin
Jeanette & Augie Hirt — Disemboweled Hedgehogs
Amanda Jones — Vulture Nest
Barrett Klein — Animal Casts; Insect Specimens; Lorenz Goose Feather; Coelacanth Essence
Colin McIntyre — Carnivorous Plants
Carl McQueary — Automaton Bird
Jason & Andrea Mellard — Elephant Hair Bracelet
Anne Merrill — Lyingly Captioned News Photo
Maura Murnane — Siamese Twin Shrimp
Jamie O’Shea — Electric Harmonium
Ken Picou — Giant Lure; Gar Sculpture
Angel & Violet Polacheck — Mermaid;
Two-headed Duckling; Baby Giraffe
Rita Rancken — Circus Puzzle
Gwen Rice — Very Small Bones; Beadwork Skull
Melanie Sherwood — Horseshoe Crab Hand Fan
Brenda Swan — Scary Stuffed Bunny;
Lori 16mm Varga — Circuit-Bent Furby
Red Wassenich — Hanuman Hologram;
REPRODUCING that constellation of OBJECTS heretofore known as MODERNITY!
MARCH -AUGUST 2006
The Machines show surveys technology from the industrial revolution to today, with an emphasis on wondrous instruments, technological utopias, & forgotten machines. A cylindrical Edison phonograph and stereoscopic photography appear beside a Dreamachine and Teknopuppy in our Machine Arcade. As with past shows, the Museum confounds the very idea of its topic: What are machines, precisely? On what do they depend? What do they produce? What happens when they malfunction? Nanotechnology’s invisible objects and molecular biology’s talk of ribosomes as machines fall in line with the Museum’s vision. Witness “the dime museum of the biotech era,” where transgenetic jackalopes are poised on the edge of myth!
The exhibition’s first display, MachinesMimesis™ , took the form of an event at the Cathedral of Junk.
SINCE rampant industrialization the COMMODITY takes on the luster of NATURE and the glitter of EXPERIENCE.
GIVEN a machinic system producing OBJECTS and FORCES, we take for granted that ENERGY goes in and WASTE goes out. Thus, the object is coequal with its incoming POWER and outgoing TRASH.
BEHIND each machine is another machine producing energy, and BENEATH each machine is the TRASH which can be transformed into a machine in itself.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES (e.g., waste; malfunctions) may be more profound in reproducing LIFE than intended production itself.
HENCE, the QUALITIES of modern commodities will find their underside in our novelty exhibition, and these TRASH OBJECTS will prove more desirous than the THING ITSELF.
BEING an edutaining encounter with HOW THINGS PATTERN & SCATTER.
MARCH – AUGUST 2005
Featuring aLIFE-SIZE CAVERN GROTTO, a WINTER FOREST DIORAMA, & a CABINET of CURIOSITIES packed with effervescent displays!
DON’T MISS – loans from Austin collectors, including Petrified Pterodactyl Droppings, Yucatan Fan Coral, an Emu Egg, a Pope Snowglobe, Salt Crystals (one from Smithson’s Spiral Jetty), a Beadwork Lizard Necklace, ETC.!
NO CHILD SHOULD MISS our edutaining displays exploring CRYSTALLIZATION & DRIFT, or, “how things come together and fall apart”! SEE “Snowflake” Bentley’s Childhood Snow Shovel &Snow Crystal Photomicrographs! SEE Dr. Emoto’s Miraculous Non-melting Hado Snow! SEE myriad crystal specimens and an airborne drift of glass, quills, and plastic icicles!
DEMONSTRATING the permiability of MEMBRANES and the flexibility of STRUCTURE
JUNE – NOVEMBER 2004
We aim to prove an axiom: “We don’t know the first thing about skin and bones.”
These fundamental elements of life become quixotic under scrutiny. Skin, forming our bodies’ edges, operates as a barrier, but just as much a porous membrane, perpetually trading material with the world such that we no longer can pinpoint an “edge.” Bones, those most stable structures upon which skins hang like fashionable silks, undergo complete regeneration every 7 years. And this is just vertebrate life under unmediated circumstances.
What about the skin-bones of the insects? What of the human propensity for wearing the other animals’ skins? What of our synthetic bones and prostheses? Finally, how is the threshold of death central to our investigation of skin and bones in a museum setting? What strange life does death unleash in our taxidermic objects?