Copyright
Brian Mac Domhnaill
2020

Built with Indexhibit

Skin and Bone I, Chromogenic print (alternative to video Skin and Bone)

The project Skin and Bone (2014) is an examination of the tactile interactions osteologists have with their subjects. The process of facial reconstruction requires prolonged analysis of the skull resulting in a personal familiarity with the individual that goes beyond standard scientific engagement.

In the video piece Skin and Bone the osteologist holds a male skull whilst identifying and describing its features. The scientific content being spoken and the specialist themselves are obscured so as not to distract from the behaviour of interest, the tactility of familiarity being exhibited between the living and the dead. In searching for the return of a human gaze the viewer is met with that of the deceased who has been reanimated through the movements of the osteologist.

In the accompanying photograph Skin and Bone II the analysed skull has undergone the process of facial reconstruction. The skull has been returned to its box, reunited with the other bones that comprise the individual. The reincarnation in clay remains in a temporary workspace where longstanding efforts to keep it moist and intact have given way to other academic concerns. The model's cloth shroud is now dry and the cracks of slow decay have begun to show. Despite this he appears to express optimism and perhaps wonder at his own sense of self and humanity. He even wears his partially removed hood with a sense of personal style. A reference photograph taped to the wall serves as a reminder of his origin and fate.

The optimum presentation of Skin and Bone is to have the video projected in a dark space with the print Skin and Bone II spotlit and positioned at a right angle. In an alternative configuration a print of the video set-up, Skin and Bone I, can be presented in a diptych with the second image Skin and Bone II, in a corner at right angles to each other.