Sunday, May 30, 2010

Your First Dead Goldfish

Enjoy some of the color plates from a 185-page volume titled "Your First Dead Goldfish," based on over five years of anthropological research into rites for the dead from around the world applied to what may be if not the most popular pet, certainly the cheapest. You may also download an abbreviated booklet/card suitable for gifting or mailing for free, complete with printing and folding instructions at!topic/stuffyoucanthave-downloads/rwwGwYSGY2k.

 Front cover (above); back cover (below)

A Potted Pet
“The fish in its aquarium, set upon a stool, is in its own world—one that does not impinge on ordinary human space. In this respect, the goldfish differs from hard-to-confine pets, such as the dog, and is more like a potted plant or an inanimate work of art.”
-Yi-Fu Tuan, Dominance & Affection: The Making of Pets

Below are illustrations for a number of chapter headings:

The Soul of the Fish

Grieving: How Sad Should You Be?

(Shown here: intermittent interment by placing fish in block of ice in freezer and bringing it out for special occasions)

Funerary Fun and Games


Ritual Food and Drink

Anima, Animus, Animals of the Underworld

Cremation Rituals

Water Burials
(As this chapter points out, technically, being flushed down the toilet does not constitute a proper water burial)

No fish were killed in the course of producing this book. All died on their own and were posed, photographed, frozen, flung to seagulls, burned, buried, and/or flushed for the benefit of all goldfish who follow. Immortalized on these pages, may they finally rest in peace.

He swam in circles all his life,
that was his sorry fate.
Now that he’s up in heaven,
we pray he can swim straight.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Dead Phone

In the spirit of Dias de los Muertos, I turned this vintage phone nook in my turn-of-the-century apartment into a shrine for the dead, complete with means of telecommunication. Note the now-defunct antique intercom system at upper right. You can unhook the mouthpiece and talk to the dead whenever you like.

Click on images to see larger version.

Shrines are made from Chinese take-out cartons, matchboxes, and other little boxes and celebrate the departed as well as those still waiting at the station.

Three little girls and the death of their childhood as their father blows up in mid-air (based on a true story).

Grandma, not only dead but giving a look that could kill.

Me, in commemoration of those days when I wish I were dead.

Grandma again, giving another look that could kill. This shrine commemorates her vulnerability to panic attacks.

Great grandma, the only party girl in the bunch.

What about the cow? A recurring theme.

Celebrating the Pleiades star cluster (also known as the seven sisters) who draw closest to Earth on the Day of the Dead.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Homeland Security Apron

Can you afford not to own this apron? I think not. It's yours for just $42,123 (the average household's share of the national debt as of 5/28/10). Completely hand-stitched, it's a premier item in our false product line.

Click to enlarge, and/or see apron detail below.

Vital Information Crucial to Your Survival!
The body copy of the apron contains a range of how-to tips and savvy advice on making it through these terrorist times, from weapons in your kitchen to surviving a nuclear war.

Ravaging Hordes
Mix flour and water to form a thin paste and apply to face and neck. As it dries it will wrinkle your skin, making you look too old and ugly to rape.

Flaming Groovies
Gain a vantage point above your enemy (like your roof). Light one end of a plastic bag. Hold other end out over enemy's head so that flaming plastic drips and sticks on them.

Molotov Cocktail
Fill wine bottle with gasoline or lighter fluid. Stopper with a tampon. Light tampon string. Throw at enemy hard enough to break the bottle.

Nuclear Attack
Head for nearest body of water (if necessary use your bathtub). Completely immerse yourself and breathe through a straw.

Alien Vapors
Seal all doors and windows with gaffer tape. Bush says this will protect us.

Lethal Mail
According to the USPS, if you receive suspicious mail (lumpy or lopsided, no return address or unknown sender, excessive tape or postage): don't handle, shake, bump, or sniff it; wash hands with soap and water; call local law enforcement. 

Toxic Gas Balloons
Make "water balloons" but instead of water,  fill one with bleach and a second with ammonia. Firmly secure the two together at their tied ends with a rubber band. Throw balloon pair at your enemy with enough force to burst. Aim for the head.

Enemy Identification
Be vigilant—report any suspicious people. Wear American flag pin to identify yourself as a patriot.

Economic Collapse
When our currency crashes, use genuine silver dimes as negotiable tender.

Fully Stocked Supply Pockets!
Two supply pockets contain all of the equipment required to take advantage of the survival information above. Supplies include:

• Tampons
• Flour
• Plastic Bags
• Matches
• Straws
• Silver Dimes
• Rubber Bands
• American Flag Pin
• Gaffer Tape

Security and Freedom!
What Every Patriot Should Know
Are you a true patriot? Are your neighbors? Who can you trust in these unsettled times? How far are you willing to go to make this country safe?

Preserving Our Freedom: Left Apron String Copy
Freedoms we willingly sacrifice to preserve our freedom under the Patriot Act by allowing: racial profiling, arbitrary search and seizure, roving wiretaps, judge-less warrants, harassment of nonviolent activists, indefinite detention without cause, disregard of attorney-client privilege, warrantless access to medical, library, e-mail, student, and financial records.
Early Terrorists: Right Apron String Copy
What would Betsy Ross be sewing if she were alive today? Nothing—she'd be locked up in Guantanamo with other suspected terrorists and not allowed dangerous objects like scissors and needles.

Evidence of the Pervasive Threat: Apron Border Copy
Objects confiscated by U.S. airport security from 2/02 to 3/03: 1.4 million knives, 2.4 million sharp objects, 1,101 guns, 15,666 clubs, 125,000+ incendiary items, nearly 40,000 box cutters, a 15-piece cutlery set, a machete, kitchen sink pipe, circular saw, horseshoes, a trailer hitch, aerosol cans, hammers, hatchets, baseball bats, cattle prods, a little girl's baton, pool cues, meat cleavers, spear guns, ice picks, corkscrews, screwdrivers, bows and arrows, golf clubs, and a metal wall hanging of the Greek god Apollo.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fortune Cupboard

Where do you keep your old fortune cookie fortunes? When I'm not using mine for artwork, I store them in these fortune cupboards. Both are doll furniture with little hooks attached on the back so that they can hang on the wall.

Click on images to see larger version.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Junkyard Dogs

Here, in general celebration of junk, are a series of junkyard dog pins. The first is made from a tin can lid, a metal heel guard, a scrap of copper, soda tin pop-top tabs, a battered locket, and excerpts from the Yellow Pages. The oblong braille template (made from a folded tin can lid) says "dog." The Yellow Page excerpt is just a random portion from the junk dealers listings.  I like the way braille looks, and the hidden aspects of language (in this case, most sighted people can't read braille and blind people can't see the pin in the first place).

Inside the locket.  

This second pin is fashioned from tin can lid, a picture of a dog from the Yellow pages, broken auto glass, found metal rubble, and a battered old heart charm. I call this one Joe and to my mind, Joe doesn't look like he'd bite anyone.

Finally, we have a pin assembled from an old charm from a church white elephant sale, scrap metal, and a soda can pop tab. What made the charm particularly irresistible is the inscription on the dog which doesn't show up well here, but says "Betty." Betty is the most poignant piece in the junk yard dog series. Poor little Betty.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Window Fantasies

Made of real metal mesh that was a killer to sew, these window treatments have sewn-on beads, bits of jewelry, broken Venetian glass, scraps of rubble, laminated fortunes and pockets that contain bits and pieces found here and there, from sea glass and metal faucet handles to dolls' arms and brass birds' feet.

Click on images for larger picture.


For close-up views of curtain innards, click here to see a more recent posting with lots of photos.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Medicine Cabinet Installation

Who hasn't peeked into someone else's medicine cabinet? Figuring that everybody does it (or wants to) I decided to make my medicine cabinet into an interactive installation piece. The results have resulted in the movement of rocks around the world.

Click on pictures to see larger images.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

False Lesson #5

If we are producing false products at this site, why not false lessons? Here is lesson number five from a curriculum based on a pedagogical approach that does not exist.

Click on picture for larger image.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

God Has No Knees

Click on picture for larger image.

In the late 1990s a group of students in a classroom at San Francisco State University understood their philosophy professor to say, “God has no knees.” Baffled but intrigued, some of the students went out for a few drinks after class and decided to conduct an experiment. They proceeded to stagger through the night stiff-legged, trying to divine what it must feel like to be god. Their conclusion was that by and large it is a lot of fun.
Only later did they realize that what the professor had actually said was, “God has no needs.” While this statement initially appears to make more sense than the idea that god has no knees, upon reflection it is even more confusing. If god has no needs, why would he, she or it require prayer, priests, devotion, obedience, sacrifice, followers or converts?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bottled Emotions

The Bottled Emotions kit was first produced in 2006. Below is the original package design, produced using recycled biolab bottles, computer graphics, and a recyled plastic AA battery package.

The instructions on the back of the package read as follows.

Directions for use:
• Open a bottle only to add to its contents; reseal it quickly.
• Keep contents in bottles and sealed at all times when not in use.
• Once inside the bottle, do not let emotions back out.

These containers are designed for adult use. The lids are not childproof. Store out of reach of children and/or emotionally labile adults. In case of accidental ingestion or overdose, give child a time out. For adults, immediately induce crying. If that fails, consult a therapist immediately.

In a later incarnation, the bottled emotions became an installation piece covering the walls of my bathroom, portions of which may be seen below.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pimp Your Reading Glasses #2

Another pair of reading glasses transformed with found rubble and assorted broken bits along with an application of permanent marker in liquid silver.

Click on picture to see larger image.

Pimp Your Reading Glasses

Most reading glasses are dead boring and the "designer" ones aren't much better. Jazz up your specs by doing it yourself. Get a cheap pair of reading glasses at the drugstore, glue on an assortment of interesting objects and have fun until you lose them. Then do it all again. (In case you're curious, that's an antique iron candy mold propping up the glasses).

Click on photo for larger image.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bird Gods

A series from a limited edition art book I created a while back, with the help of the birds at Lake Merritt.

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