Ventriloquism was originally a religious practice that got its start in ancient times, somewhere around the sixth century. The name “ventriloquist” means “belly speaker” in Latin. It supposedly was used to communicate with the dead. The noises made by the stomach were thought to be the voices of the dead, who took up residence in the stomach of the ventriloquist. For a long time, it was viewed negatively by the Christian church.
The change from being a sign of spiritual forces to being considered entertainment happened in the eighteenth century at travelling fairs. It came of age as entertainment with the help of vaudeville in the United States.
Ventriloquism is the illusion of creating life, but the fear of ventriloquist’s dummies is called automatonophobia.
If the items were really as its name, Tombées du Camion, (items fallen from the back of a truck) suggests, this little shop in Montmartre would never have lasted as long as it has. Tucked away in a forgotten passageway, between chic fashion and the questionable Pigalle area, is found one of the most interesting assortments of salvaged and found items in Paris.
A temporary resting place for unwanted and unclaimed curiosities, Tombées du Camion is like a museum of the odd, all squeezed into under 200 square feet. Everything in excess, from doll parts to police whistles and pill containers on display in wooden crates will hold you in it’s spell. There are French porno banners from the 1970s, rusted mortuary plaques (probably pried from old burial sites), and unused flasks of an opium cure for diarrhea. Most of these items are made in France, and every object has a story.
Much of the stock has been salvaged from attics and corners of old factories in random locations around France, often left after their usefulness seemed to have passed.
Trina Merry has the ability to turn human beings into living canvases with her finely detailed paint works. If you ever get to San Francisco, stop and examine the street art and graffiti murals. There is a chance there might be an almost naked person hiding there.
Merry got started when she was asked to get on stage at a concert and get body painted in her underwear. She then apprenticed under the well known body painter Craig Tracy in New Orleans. She uses non-toxic hypoallergenic paint applied with a brush or airbrush. The painting is temporary, and begins to change texture as soon as she stops painting. For this reason photography is necessary to document the work.
Merry chose the structure of a temple in order to bring awareness to the social business venture “Beyond the Four Walls” in order to empower women in Nepal.
Son Doong Cave the world’s largest, is located in Vietnam. It was originally found by a local man who discovered the entrance in 1991. He was afraid of the 300 foot drop and the roar that came from below. For 18 more years, it stayed unexplored until it was re-discovered in 2009 by British cave explorers. The name Son Doong means “mountain river”. The cave was created 2-5 million years ago by a river whose source is still unknown. The cave is so big it contains a jungle and you could fit a 40 story building inside.
Where the limestone was weak, the ceiling collapsed creating huge skylights. Thousands of “cave pearls” sit untouched in Son Doong. These were formed over hundreds of years when dripping water created layers of calcite that build up around grains of sand.
Vietnam has a very difficult terrain, and the cave is far out of the way. It’s totally covered in jungle, and you can’t locate anything on Google Earth. A team from the British Cave Research Association, who first explored Son Doong, will be returning to find out more of the cave’s mysteries.
A tour company called Oxalis, is running trial tours of the cave and accepting sign-ups for real six-day tours to take place next year. Ropes and harness are needed to get inside Son Doong, and any visitors will need to rappel 260 feet to reach the cave floor. Tourists will explore the cavern by day and sleep on the cave’s sandy beaches at night.
Artist Ed Fairburn has some very odd habits. Once as a bored 15-year-old, during a long school break, he glued a stamp on a slice of toast and mailed it as a postcard. Since then, he has used the postal system as an alternative gallery space, although his talents have outgrown the mailbox. His most current work has him bringing new life to a series of maps. Fairburn seems to prefer the kind of art that’s easy to fold away, possibly because it makes them easier to put into a mailbox.
Ed Fairburn is a Welsh artist, who has the ability to combine the geography of facial features with the geography of the earth. Combining the two has a completely natural feel. built and natural echo the human form. Like a sculptor, Fairburn uses patterns to cut away unnecessary details showing form in a new way.
Today we’re living in a new age of map making, with interactive, electronic mapping technology that gives us real time detail. But it is nice to be reminded that, despite the benefits of this Google-era reality, maps can speak to more than how to get from one place to another.
From old books that people no longer want, Daniel Lai creates art with several mediums in varied styles and subject matter, bringing new life to old paper. The artist, also known as Kenjio was born in Malaysia, moved to the United States in 2000, and is now living in Tennessee.
Each book sculpture is made by folding the paper to create a fan effect and adding a clay figure of a man. Each of the folded paper sculptures look like a large flower. The figure is then added to suggest a moment of thought. His series of “Thinker” sculptures echoes Rodin’s “The Thinker”
These literary sculptures show the need for knowledge and the limits time gives us to gain that knowledge.
A road winding to the top of a North Carolina mountain is the entrance to Oz, a 1970s theme park that closed less than 10 years after it opened. Back when it started, the Land of Oz would attract up to 20,000 visitors a day, but now the Yellow Brick Road is missing some bricks, and the Wicked Witch’s castle is empty.
Grover Robbins developed the Beech Mountain theme park as a way of attracting families to the resort town. Robbins never lived to see his masterpiece, dying at the age of 50 of bone cancer only six months before the park was complete. The park opened on June 15, 1970 with Debbie Reynolds making an appearance, along with her daughter, Carrie Fisher. In its first summer 400,000 visitors came to the Land of Oz.
The Yellow Brick Road wound its way through the park, leading tourists to a replica Emerald City (destroyed in a fire), Dorothy’s house, the castle of the Wicked Witch and the Munchkin village all accurately recreated on over 450 acres.
After a decline in amusement park visitors in the 1970s and a lack of modernization and updates in the park itself, the Land of Oz closed in 1980. The park was left to vandals and decay, but there was enough interest in its restoration that it was eventually restored as a private garden in the Eagle Mountain community built at that property near the top of Beech Mountain.
The park does open to the public one week-end a year in the beginning of October.