Project 1: Exercise 4 – Looking at context

So I decided to have a little look for a different view of Damien Hirst’s piece, ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991‘. Simply because it’s really hard to get a good idea of what a piece is about when you’re looking at only one view of it in a small photo.

I found his own website and you can see a lengthways view of the piece, which I guess gives a slightly broader perspective, see link below:

http://www.damienhirst.com/the-physical-impossibility-of

Damien Hirst,The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991 - Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

Damien Hirst,The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991 – Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

First Reaction to piece:

Disturbing, Intriguing, am I supposed to feel sorry for the shark?

Emotional response:

Mixed, I guess I see the shark as a symbol of terror or fear. It’s associated with causing harm or death. I’m also slightly disturbed by seeing it in a large container of glass, it’s unnatural.

What do I think it’s about?

I think my answer would be different if I hadn’t known the title. Without the title, I guess I would’ve thought about why the shark is in a container, is it about dominance? Is it about demonstrating even powerful creatures succumb to man or to death? Is it about containing things that make us afraid?

What do I think about the title?

I think the title helps set the piece in a context, or gives it a frame of reference. It suggests that the piece is about confronting our view of death, that we struggle to face death head on and the piece is literally showing us death or the decaying process in action through the slow decay of the shark in the formaldehyde solution. Without the title it really does come down to how we view the shark and the structure.

Edwaert Collier Still Life:

Edwaert Collier,Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes’, 1696, Copyright Tate, London 2014.

Edwaert Collier,Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes’, 1696, Copyright Tate, London 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Reaction to piece:

It’s a technically good painting, has a moody feel, it’s a dimly light scene. I notice the skull in the background and some text underneath a vase – I wonder what this means? The cup and grapes reminds me of the bible story of Joseph and the cup bearer and how people would taste the kings wine to test for poison.

Emotional response:

Initially not much, slightly more sinister feeling once I noticed the skull in the background. I guess a sense of sorrow, everything feels sombre, still a bit lifeless.

What do I think it’s about?

Without the title to reference – I would’ve said some kind of collection, maybe a particular persons interests, or passions. Maybe there’s some political nod to the times, perhaps death, I say this simply because in the shadows of the painting there lurks a skull. Maybe the fleeting nature of life?  Perhaps the connection between the music and the skull is to do with time, a piece has a set duration and then it’s finished, just as a human is mortal, living only a certain amount of time?

What do I think about the title?

I honestly am not sure what the word ‘Emblemes’ means. It suggests a persons belongings, is ‘Wither’ a person?

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