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squirrelllamp.jpg

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Alex Randall’s taxidermy lighting:

Alex Randall specializes in using reclaimed materials in chandeliers and lamps. Looking at this work you can see a re-emergence of taxidermy as a reaction to a decade when sameness reigned – be that Eames or Ikea.

“There’s a desperation to reintroduce character to our homes” says Randall.

Taxidermy is incongruously an ethical design choice. If an animal is already dead, why not preserve it? “Most of the animals we use are shot as vermin and their bodies either used as food for other animal or left to rot. By giving them a purpose, they become quite beautiful” Randall remarks.

[via Cool Hunting]

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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Comments

  1. BobsYourUncle says:

    “Taxidermy is incongruously an ethical design choice. If an animal is already dead, why not preserve it?”

    I look forward to seeing what you do with your relatives bodies when they die. I’m guessing most squirrels and ducks they were happy enough with their purpose and beauty before they were declared vermin and shot.

    1. TheThinker says:

      “I look forward to seeing what you do with your relatives bodies when they die”

      Seriously ? You are comparing a squirrel to a human relative ??

      1. BobsYourUncle says:

        If the relative is already dead, why not preserve them?
        At least you are (presumably) waiting for the relative to die of natural causes, not shooting them.

        1. TheThinker says:

          To each his own. I’m sure glad I’m not related to you…

          1. BobsYourUncle says:

            And I’m glad I’m not a fuzzy little animal in your neck of the world…

          2. TheThinker says:

            Yep, that is too bad…

    2. vrandy.myopenid.com says:

      I don’t understand you people.

      I *HOPE* someone does something constructive with my corpse when I’m dead! That’d be awesome. Why the heck not?

      You make things out of dead trees, why not dead squirrels?

  2. BobsYourUncle says:

    Here is the trick to understand: I find killing an animal so you can gut it, stuff it, and mount it to the wall holding a light bulb disgusting. And I find passing that off as ethical as insulting. Read the article, the squirrel didn’t start off dead.

    Once your dead of natural causes, who gives (though I think a lamp is awfully macabre).

    Do you *HOPE* some aspiring Dahmer shoots you and does something constructive with your corpse tomorrow afternoon? Probably not.

    For extra credit, read up on the pathology of sociopaths. They like taxidermy too.

  3. Phillip Torrone says:

    taxidermy has a long history in the world of making as well as our collective human origins – great post becky.

  4. Giancarlo Todone says:

    I always look forward for the next taxidermy project not because i’ve a special passion for it (to be honest i find it a little bit disgusting), but because of interesting people reactions: each of the sides -pros and cons- points out very reasonable arguments. Anyway i suspect some hypocrisy being into some of the cons argumentation: if they would wear a squirrel skin instead of making it stand a lamp, would it be more *fair* ??

  5. Rahere says:

    Copycats. Strong stuff, though.

  6. R64 says:

    1. “we’re animals so killing and stuffing animals is OK”

    2. “we’re magical animals with souls and god gave us animals to interfere with as we see fit”

    3. “Whatever we were we’re now enlightened, have developed ethics, and have evolved beyond the animal desire to dominate animals, and that makes us special”

    Pick your team.

    I see the “make movement” as being one of enlightenment.

    Using weasely words to somehow negotiate taxidermy into the realm of ethical and enlightened behaviour is entirely confused.

    It would be great if people meditated on their own beliefs and were honest with themselves about why they believe what they do.

  7. BobsYourUncle says:

    @Phil: Slavery also has a long history in the world of making as well as our collective human origins. Intelligence allows us to reevaluate and change our behaviors.

    @Giancarlo: No hypocrisy in suggesting that killing for a coat is more legit than killing for a coat hook (though I’d propose throwing on a cotton sweater and leaving the squirrel alone). I hope even the ‘animals have no rights’ set has some line which they will no pass. Using live squirrels as for skeet shooting is probably a no-no. Beating your pet dog? Some of us are asserting that killing a squirrels and ducks to serve as replacement for a nail is over the line as well.

    @All: My beef with this article is the unchallenged assertion that this is somehow ethical– suggesting those critters are better off now than when they were alive.

  8. Phillip Torrone says:

    @BobsYourUncle – human slavery is nonequivalent to taxidermy. when you say “Do you *HOPE* some aspiring Dahmer shoots you and does something constructive with your corpse tomorrow afternoon?” – that’s a completely inappropriate suggestion and comparison.

    the article it says “If an animal is already dead, why not preserve it?” – that seems like a topic worth debating, not fictional ones like comparing implying slavery, killing ducks & squirrels for nails and “beating your pet dog”.

    it appears, once again, almost all of the anti-taxidermy comments have the most violence and strawmen.

    1. BobsYourUncle says:

      @Phil: Please read the article it very, very clearly says the animals were considered vermin and killed.

      Here is the chain of events, what am I missing?!

      Step 1, find live duck
      Step 2, kill duck
      Step 3, say ‘oh look a dead duck, let’s do something useful with it’
      Step 4, declare ethical
      Step 5, defend with talking points

  9. Phillip Torrone says:

    @BobsYourUncle – you’re missing the part where you compare/talk about slavery, dahmer and then you say “For extra credit, read up on the pathology of sociopaths. They like taxidermy too.”

    that’s ridiculous to say something like that here, in fact if you google for “pathology of sociopaths” and “taxidermy” – you’ll just see your comment here as the #1 link http://tinyurl.com/5m58d5

    if you’re a health professional and can cite clinical evidence or you yourself have performed peer-reviewed studies that might be interesting to hear about this comparison and what led you to investigate the topic. otherwise it seems inappropriate to say that here in context of this artist.

    visit the artist’s site, she clearly is not a serial killer.

    http://www.alexrandall.co.uk/about.php

    Alex is a one-of-a kind artist that specialises in bespoke lighting for people with the conviction and courage to say something.

    Alex has a degree in sculpture from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and also an MA in Professional Writing. She says that during this time she became interested in the memory of everyday objects and saw a significance in their compulsive use. She created both pieces of sculpture and text that drew on this theme.

    In 2006 she began making bespoke light pieces and from her very first piece captured the imagination of the press and public alike. In 2007 Alex was awarded the ‘most promising newcomer’ by Liberty. Since then Alex’s work has continued to evoke and inspire across the globe. From Milan to New York, you’ll find one of Alex’s stunning pieces.

  10. BobsYourUncle says:

    @Phil, I’ll take it that you have conceded the fact that animals were killed to be turned into light fixtures. That is big of you. I don’t care that you don’t care. I just proposed that it isn’t ethical. I’d even go so far as to say Make should avoid opining on ethics at all unless you want others to challenge your opinions.

    It is a highly hyperbolic talking point strategy to suggest that I am in some way am accusing the artist of being a serial killer. Not nice.

  11. Phillip Torrone says:

    @BobsYourUncle – there isn’t anyone from MAKE that says anything about ethics of taxidermy on this post including me. taxidermy has a long history in the world of making as well as our collective human origins, that’s it. the text about “ethics” is quoting the article – but you know that.

    what’s troublesome and isn’t “nice” is what you said:

    ================

    “For extra credit, read up on the pathology of sociopaths. They like taxidermy too.”

    “I look forward to seeing what you do with your relatives bodies when they die.”

    “If the relative is already dead, why not preserve them?”

    “Do you *HOPE* some aspiring Dahmer shoots you and does something constructive with your corpse tomorrow afternoon?”

    ================

    really? you look forward to what people are going to do with their dead relatives? bonkers.

    you’re welcome to make constructive comments here – but i think your comments are mean-spirited and inappropriate towards the artist, the commenter(s) and taxidermists.

    this can be a valuable discussion, leave out the stuff that’s obviously not productive.

    1. BobsYourUncle says:

      Please discuss my comments in context before calling me bonkers or accusing me of defamation:

      “For extra credit, read up on the pathology of sociopaths. They like taxidermy too.”
      > Fine, maybe not nice but that guy did suggest shooting me in the same thread. Sociopaths are characterized by, among other things, emotional distance and cruelty to animals. Psychopaths (notably Gein and Dahmer) tend to take things a bit further. If you really want references in the spirit of civil discourse, I’m happy to oblige.

      “I look forward to seeing what you do with your relatives bodies when they die. If the relative is already dead, why not preserve them?”
      > This is a direct restatement of “If the animal is already dead, why not preserve them?”. Are you arguing that humans aren’t animals? And if they are animals, what is the difference? As I also said it that thread, I really don’t give a rip about doing whatever with a dead animal (whatever species). I do have issue with doing whatever with a live animal.

      “Do you *HOPE* some aspiring Dahmer shoots you and does something constructive with your corpse tomorrow afternoon?”
      > Again, a direct restatement of “I *HOPE* somebody does something constructive with my corpse when I die”. I dared suggest that the author might not be as committed to that position if he wasn’t dying of natural causes. Like the squirrel and the duck.

  12. Phillip Torrone says:

    @BobsYourUncle – again, i think your comments are mean-spirited and inappropriate towards the artist, the commenter(s) and taxidermists.

    when you say –

    “For extra credit, read up on the pathology of sociopaths. They like taxidermy too.”

    as i said before – if you’re a health professional and can cite clinical evidence or you yourself have performed peer-reviewed studies that might be interesting to hear about *taxidermy* and the pathology of sociopaths. “cruelty to animals” does not equal taxidermy, so it’s likely not fair to continue to put them together.

    taxidermy as far as i can tell and based on the laws in the usa is not considered cruelty to animals, so once again you’re implying something that clearly isn’t.

  13. BobsYourUncle says:

    Here is the only point I’ve tried to make: I do not think it is appropriate to kill an animal for the sole purpose of turning it into a light fixture. I do not like seeing it in Make Magazine.

    Kindly confine the debate to that statement (I have tried to).

    @Phil, I view your arguments as hyperbolic, as sensational, and as deliberate attacks on my credibility rather than my position. And really, only my own, published research can be used to endorse the clinical definition of antisocial personality disorder?! Not really how the scientific method works. Calling me bonkers and libelous seems more mean spirited than sending somebody to look at a freshman level psychology book.

  14. Phillip Torrone says:

    let me be more clear – i think the statement in context of this artist is bonkers… “For extra credit, read up on the pathology of sociopaths. They like taxidermy too.”

    one could apply any word or topic here… “For extra credit, read up on the pathology of sociopaths. They like JIGSAW PUZZLES too.”

    to your point “Here is the only point I’ve tried to make: I do not think it is appropriate to kill an animal for the sole purpose of turning it into a light fixture.”

    i think a lot of people would agree with that specific point.

    as always, it’s not that simple – if the duck and/or squirrel are “vermin” or being used for food, or if it’s an overpopulation issue then that would be more than just one purpose.

    one could say chopping down trees for firewood always will kill bugs, sometimes kill other animals.

    “I do not like seeing it in Make Magazine.” — i doubt this would appear in the pages of MAKE. it’s not in the magazine at the moment, it’s on the Make blog, they are different things – a link to this project and artist out of the dozens of posts a day is different than an in-depth how-to on killing an animal for the sole purpose of turning it into a light fixture. i can’t speak for the MAKE print team but i’m willing to guess you’ll never see that in the magazine.

    again, “cruelty to animals” does not equal taxidermy, so it’s not fair to continue to put them together.

    that said – i think if there was peer-reviewed published research that showed there was a clear link between the pathology of sociopaths and taxidermy i would be interested to see that (or if this is part of your work / research, i’m also interested) but as far as i can tell there is not, if there is please email me directly since it’s likely outside this thread :)

  15. R64 says:

    Cruelty to animals does link quite permanently to taxidermy, in that they both expressions of the idea that animals are objects, and objects only. Taxidermy is traditionally the act of building a hunting trophy – a consequence of hunting. (“HEY LOOK WHAT I CAUGHT WITH MY GUN”) Which is most definitely animal cruelty.

    Leather, or “taxidermy you can wear” is a by-product of large scale meat production, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon. As much as that would make the world an infinitely better place. So why don’t we leave that out.

    And also just to explain the link between psychopaths and people who are cruel to animals, it is a lack of human empathy. Also both, at the extreme, express acts of torturing and killing.

    You don’t need peer-reviewed papers to see the link there. That is a bit of a fallacious argument. As is equating animals with bugs.

    As for stuffing your relatives, while I fear there is a risk of alienating people from a perfectly valid point of ethics by using an emotional argument (“GROUND ZERO MOSQUE!”) it is still valid to compare human taxidermy with animal taxidermy. Humans are animals.

    Because an argument is inconvenient to one’s own self image as an ethical person, does not mean it is not valid. I would say again it would be worth introspection into why you draw the line where.

    Just as a piece of genuine advice for everyone who wants to argue on the internet, I would recommend looking here:
    http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html
    Each time you use one of these arguments, you lose.

  16. Phillip Torrone says:

    @R64 – that’s ridiculous, hunting is not animal cruelty. animal cruelty is defined by the laws in the USA and hunting is not considered cruel by the laws we have – it never has been and never will.

    building a hunting trophy is also not “cruel”.

    hunting and taxidermy are not “torturing and killing” – you can continue to believe all of that, but it’s not true and not how society has, does and will define hunting and taxidermy.

    and somehow you’ve brought the “ground zero mosque” in to this, bonkers! turn off the talking head tv and make something instead :)

  17. R64 says:

    re: “animal cruelty is defined by the laws in the USA” – Animals in other countries do suffer too. Not as much as those in the USA. Ethics is bigger than the narrow human space within the laws of one country. I live in the UK and our animal cruelty laws are more advanced than those of the USA. Feel free to look these up.

    (refer also “Not Invented Here” on that link above)

    The “Ground zero mosque” outburst is based entirely on emotion and fallacious arguments. Just an interesting contemporary counterpoint, that is in itself a distraction, but please don’t dwell on this.

    [I spent a good 3 hours in my workshop last night, making things. Right now I am at work in an office, but I would rather be in my shop.]

    To get back to the point, good ethics and taxidermy do not mix. I don’t want to see this morbid propaganda anywhere near my favourite magazine. There’s a sickening feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I see this kind of celebration of the domination of animals. It’s the same feeling you would get if you saw on the make blog a link to an artist who is doing a good thing by recycling dead bodies from the developing world, making art in the traditional style of shrunken heads.

    (Beware ironic outburst: “Come on Make, do a how-to feature on shrunken heads! It’s very traditional! They’re already dead – no suffering involved!”)

    I wish you all the best, and hope that one day you truly “meet” an animal, and feel in your heart that human empathy that is not reserved only for other humans. It’s one of the greatest experiences you’ll ever have, if you remember to remember it.

  18. Phillip Torrone says:

    @R64 – taxidermy is legal in the UK and not considered cruelty.

    http://www.taxidermylaw.co.uk/

    the artist here is from the UK: http://www.alexrandall.co.uk/about.php

    it seems the law makers in the UK doesn’t share the same opinion as you do.

    if her works were a problem they wouldn’t be as celebrated as they appear to be.

    bring up “ground zero mosque” is a silly distraction, you know that – and it has nothing to do with this artist or this conversation.

    “good ethics and taxidermy do not mix” is a ridiculous statement. that’s an opinion you’re welcome to have, but it’s not based on fact or reality and you’re not going to promote it without someone suggesting it’s flawed.

    continuing to create false-comparisons like “recycling dead bodies from the developing world” is not valuable to the discussion.

  19. R64 says:

    @Phillip: You’re missing the point entirely, arguing straw men, cherry picking your arguments, dwelling on points people have asked you not to dwell on, and not properly forming your own arguments.

    You clearly have no respect for animals, as such you lose my respect.

    A dead body is a dead body, stuffed or not.

    Good day to you.

  20. Phillip Torrone says:

    @R64 – you do not have any evidence that i have “no respect for animals”. you’re attempting to make this about me. bonkers.

    but what’s really clear is that you’ve ignored all the facts presented (uk laws, the artist) supplied zero evidence to back incorrect statements like “good ethics and taxidermy do not mix” and you tossed in the “ground zero mosque” – that’s the king of straw men for this news cycle week.

    according to the laws of your country and mine “dead body is a dead body, stuffed or not” – is not correct, if it’s an animal it’s different than a person.