What Was I Thinking? Part 3: Barbie skull costume after Dali

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What Was I Thinking? Part 3: Barbie skull costume after Dali

We have covered Maine artist Andrew Salomone’s work here at Make: Online many times before. Highlights include a portrait of Bill Cosby in Jell-O shots, a Ouija board shaped like a computer keyboard, a gingerbread house abandoned halfway through construction due to the economic downturn, an unfinished scrabble game which at a distance becomes a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, and a ski mask with the wearer’s face printed on the outside. We like Andrew, and we like Andrew’s work.

But my fragile, inflated ego needs a break from these weekly pummelings. So today somebody else is in the spanking machine. And that somebody, dear Andrew, is you. Thanks for being a sport and for posting your failed Halloween costume in the first place. Andrew, himself, has this to say about the project:

I’ve been thinking about making a skull out of barbies after this famous image of Salvador Dali for a while now. I finally decided that the easiest thing to do would be to stitch the barbies onto a ski mask and wear it as a Halloween costume. But after seeing the final result, it seems like there may never be an appropriate time to wear this.

The Dali image he refers to is a tableau vivant featuring the bodies of naked women arranged to form a skull. It’s pictured on the shirt he’s wearing in the photo above, but because it’s arguably NSFW, we’re only going to link to a hi-res image. The work is a 1951 photograph by Philippe Halsman (Wikipedia), who famously collaborated with Dali on several portraits, and is based on a sketch by Dali himself. It is titled In Voluptas Mors, which my hack Latin renders as something like “In pleasure, there is death.” The image is well-known, and was strongly alluded to in promotional art for The Silence of the Lambs and The Descent.

Thanks again, Andrew. Anybody else brave enough to step up? Send your What Was I Thinking? suggestions straight to me at sean@makezine.com.

4 thoughts on “What Was I Thinking? Part 3: Barbie skull costume after Dali

  1. ephelba says:

    I love this series and think it’s super-uber-valuable. Please don’t ever stop. It’s great to see mess-ups posted without snark. I think it’s especially valuable for the youngest makers to demonstrate that ideas don’t make it to reality without detours, and that the detours are useful for the birth of new ideas.

    That said, I’m thinking submissions are sparse because we usually don’t think to take a picture until we get it right. I think that there will be a lull between the time you start this series and when Makers send stuff in because you’ve got to give us time to use our cameras on the projects we’re goofing up right now.

    1. Gareth Branwyn says:


      I think that’s a REALLY excellent point. We’re so used to ignoring, trying to move beyond, our mistakes and failures, we don’t bother to document them. Like, with my solarroller project that I wrote about here (http://tinyurl.com/y8r87k2), I went through at least three other completely different designs and a number of failed variations and never thought to take pictures of any of them. They just went right into the trash (or ending up back in my parts bin).

      One of the most liberating things, when I first starting working for MAKE, was hearing from people around MAKE (like Mister Jalopy, Mark Frauenfelder, and others) who openly embraced their ignorance, their failures, their perennial amateur status, who made light of it. And I love how much we try to encode that into the stuff that we do here, the idea that it’s okay to admit to not knowing something, or that you tried it and it didn’t work. As someone who’s always been fascinated with and dabbled in DIY tech, but who isn’t an engineer and isn’t a know-it-all in the areas we cover, I find this so refreshing and such a great entree to learning. It removes all sorts of crippling pressures.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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