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26 April 2012

Memento Mori - Remember the dead

WARNING! If you are a susceptible, sensitive person, who's deeply scared of death and doesn't want to know nothing about it. DO NOT READ and especially DO NOT WATCH THE VIDEO!

This post is dedicated to POST MORTEM PHOTOGRAPHY. It was of great use during the Victorian era, so I thought it could be interesting for those of you into the 18th century or/and fascinated by death to know something about it. I'm not going to post pictures because the ones I found were mainly dead children which could really impress you. I actually felt bad myself seeing them. I am just posting the video that inspired the making of this article.

Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember your mortality", "Remember you must die" or "Remember you will die". It refers to a genre of artworks that vary widely but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their mortality, an artistic theme dating back to antiquity. 

The earliest post-mortem photographs are usually close-ups of the face or shots of the full body and rarely include the coffin. The subject is usually depicted so as to seem in a deep sleep, or else arranged to appear more lifelike. Children were often shown in repose on a couch or in a crib, sometimes posed with a favorite toy or other plaything. It was not uncommon to photograph very young children with a family member, most frequently the mother. Adults were more commonly posed in chairs or even braced on specially-designed frames. Flowers were also a common prop in post-mortem photography of all types.

The effect of life was sometimes enhanced by either propping the subject's eyes open or painting pupils onto the photographic print, and many early images (especially tintypes and ambrotypes) have a rosy tint added to the cheeks of the corpse.

Later examples show less effort at a lifelike appearance, and often show the subject in a coffin. Some very late examples show the deceased in a coffin with a large group of funeral attendees; this type of photograph was especially popular in Europe and less common in the United States.

Post-mortem photography is still practiced in some areas of the world, such as Eastern Europe. Photographs, especially depicting persons who were considered to be very holy lying in their coffins are still circulated among faithful Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians.

A variation of the memorial portrait involves photographing the family with a shrine (usually including a living portrait) dedicated to the deceased.

The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 made portraiture much more commonplace, as many of those who were unable to afford the commission of a painted portrait could afford to sit for a photography session. This cheaper and quicker method also provided the middle class with a means for memorializing dead loved ones.

These photographs served less as a reminder of mortality than as a keepsake to remember the deceased. This was especially common with infants and young children; Victorian era childhood mortality rates were extremely high, and a post-mortem photograph might have been the only image of the child the family ever had. The later invention of the carte de visite, which allowed multiple prints to be made from a single negative, meant that copies of the image could be mailed to relatives.

The practice eventually peaked in popularity around the end of the 19th century and died out as "snapshot" photography became more commonplace, although a few examples of formal memorial portraits were still being produced well into the 20th century.

23 April 2012

Bela Lugosi - Legend Of Horror

As requested, a post about horror movie legendary actor Bela Lugosi. 

Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó (20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956), commonly known as Bela Lugosi, was a Hungarianactor of stage and screen. He was best known for having played Count Dracula in the Broadway play and subsequent film version, as well as having starred in several of *Ed Wood's low budget films in the last years of his career. 

Lugosi, the youngest of four children, was born in Lugos (at the time part of Austria–Hungary, now Lugoj in Romania). He later based his last name on his hometown. He and his sister Vilma were raised in a Roman Catholic family. At the age of 12, Lugosi dropped out of school. He began his acting career probably in 1901 or 1902. His earliest known performances are from provincial theaters in the 1903–1904 season, playing small roles in several plays and operettas. He went on to Shakespeare plays and other major roles.

During World War I, he served as an infantry lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Army from 1914 to 1916. There he rose to the rank of captain in the ski patrol and was awarded a medal for being wounded at the Russian front.

Due to his activism in the actors union in Hungary during the time of the Hungarian Revolution of 1919, he was forced to flee his homeland. He first went to Vienna, Austria, and then settled in Berlin, Germany, in the Langestrasse where he continued acting. Eventually, he traveled to New Orleans, United States as a crewman aboard a merchant ship.

Lugosi was approached in the summer of 1927 to star in a Broadway production of Dracula adapted by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston from Bram Stoker'snovel. The Horace Liveright production was successful, running 261 performances before touring. 

Through his association with Dracula (in which he appeared with minimal makeup, using his natural, heavily accented voice), Lugosi found himself typecast as a horror villain in such movies as Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Raven, and Son of Frankenstein for Universal, and the independent White Zombie. His accent, while a part of his image, limited the roles he could play. 

Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956, while lying on a couch in his Los Angeles home. He was 73. The rumor that Lugosi was clutching the script for The Final Curtain, a planned Ed Wood * project, at the time of his death is not true.

Lugosi was buried wearing one of the Dracula Cape costumes, per the request of his son and fourth wife, in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Contrary to popular belief, Lugosi never requested to be buried in his cloak; Bela G. Lugosi (his son) confirmed on numerous occasions that he and his mother, Lillian, actually made the decision but believed that it is what his father would have wanted.

Goth rock band Bauhaus composed a song dedicated to Lugosi called "Bela Lugosi's Dead"

*Edward Davis "Ed" Wood, Jr. (October 10, 1924 – December 10, 1978) was an American screenwriter, director, producer,actor, author, and editor, who often performed many of these functions simultaneously. In the 1950s, Wood made a number of low-budget genre films, now notable for their technical errors, unsophisticated special effects, large amounts of ill-fittingstock footage, idiosyncratic dialogue, eccentric casts and outlandish plot elements, although his flair for showmanship gave his projects at least a modicum of critical success.

Wood's popularity waned soon after his biggest name star Bela Lugosi died (in August 1956). He was able to salvage a saleable feature from Lugosi's last moments on film, but his career declined thereafter.

Tim Burton did a tribute movie called "Ed Wood" with Johnny Depp starring as the director.

18 April 2012

Angel Of Grief

A little post for the art lovers and those into statues of angels.

Angel of Grief is an 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story which serves as the grave stone of the artist and his wife at the Protestant Cemetery, Rome. This style of monument is also referred to as "Weeping Angel." It's made of marmor and stone.

William Wetmore Story was born to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1819, and graduated from Harvard College in 1838 and Harvard Law School in 1840. He left the practice of law to become a sculptor and relocated to Italy in 1848. His most famous sculpture is "Cleopatra," which is part of the collection of The Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York City. 

The remarkable and emotional realism of the "Angel of Grief" has made it famous, and it has become a copied funeral monument model all over the world, especially in the United States, where many reproductions of the work can be found . 

The statue represents an angel kneeling on a tombstone with his head on his forearm while crying with his face hidden. His hand is left hanging over the tombstone like powerless due to the sadness and depression the angel is living at the moment. Some flower petals are scattered on the tombstone base like they were left falling by the miserable angel in pain. The wings are represented curved down like in pity on the back of this angel. The body of the angel is like collapsed on the tombstone like he had lost all of his hope.

Pictures of the statue appear on the covers of Evanescence EP by Evanescence (1998), Once by Nightwish (2004), Embossed Dream in Four Acts by Odes of Ecstasy(1998) and Letanías: Capítulo III by Anabantha (2006). All four bands have arguably gothic influences. It is also featured on the album art of The Edges of Twilight by The Tea Party (1995).

17 April 2012

Ladytron..a band to keep an "ear" on!

I actually came to know about this band (which I mentioned in my interview) while listening to the soundrack of the game Little Big Planet 2. The song on the OST was "Ghosts" and I immediately fell in love with it. I like those happy songs with melancholy cadence and this was definitely one. So I obviously went looking for other songs about this band and found other tracks like that one, "Destroy Everything You Touch" for example. Their genre is experimental. Not really pop neither pure electronic. Just awesome sound in my opinion! Some songs are actually very dark and I was totally not surprised when I heard their record playing in goth clubs!

Ladytron are an English electronic band formed in Liverpool in 1999. The band consists of Helen Marnie (lead vocals, synthesizers), Mira Aroyo (vocals, synthesizers), Daniel Hunt (synthesizers, electric guitar, vocals) and Reuben Wu (synthesizers).

Their sound blends electropop with New Wave and shoegazing elements. Ladytron described their sound as "electronic pop". They focused on a balance between pop structures and experimental sounds. Some of the group's songs performed by Aroyo contain lyrics written in her native Bulgarian. 

They have released five studio albums so far: 604 (2001), Light & Magic (2002), Witching Hour (2005),Velocifero (2008) and Gravity the Seducer (2011). The compilation Best of 00–10 was issued in 2011.

Ladytron have produced remixes for many artists, including David Gahan, Goldfrapp, Apoptygma Berzerk, Placebo, Blondie, Gang of Four, Christina Aguilera, Bloc Party, Kings of Convenience, Indochine, She Wants Revenge, Simian, Nine Inch Nails, SONOIO and Soulwax.

Interview to BallerinaDark

Last week Amy of The Ultimate Goth Guide (now known as Stripy Tights and Dark Delights) was so kind to interview me! Well, here's the interview for those who want to read it:

"BallerinaDark is the mastermind behind blogazine Gothic Divine, which has been running since 2009 and whose motley crew of spooky staff post on just about every Goth-related topic you can think of. This gorgeous Goth of colour was kind enough to chat to me about everything from fashion, to blogging, to the dark alternative scene in her home, Italy.

(c) BallerinaDark

What inspired you to create Gothic Divine Magazine? Have you learned anything from the experience? 

Well, a bit embarassed here but, yeah, everything started from a doll dress-up game site! It's very famous now and it's called Stardoll.com . I know, it seems childish at first but when you start playing and create your doll-self with you own style it becomes quite addictive. I happened to meet a lot of people there of all ages... and a lot of goths! In that site, beside playing there's the chance to create forums where you can chat with the other players and I created GothicDivine. From there, the idea of gathering all of that we've been talking about in a blog. It wasn't supposed to be a Magazine... I just loved how the name sounded. In fact as you can see it's not structured at all as a magazine. Writing for the blog is a beautiful experience! I learned a lot of interesting stuff I didn't know either of goth culture! Anything I see or hear that's even slightly goth related, I write about and make little researches over the topics. It's fun and it is also a proof that goth culture is more than meets the eye.

Would you describe yourself as a net.Goth? What do you think of the Goth community online (e.g. is it friendly, elitist, etc)? 

Yes I think I can be considered a net.Goth. as I spend a lot of time on the internet! I love reading other fellow goths' blogs and take inspiration from them. All the other net.Goths I've "met" are all friendly. I don't think there's a serious elitism problem on-line as it would be pretty pathetic... you know... from behind a screen...

In your blogazine you give advice and information on all Goth-related topics from music to art and everything in between, but one of your most-discussed subjects is, of course, fashion and beauty! What are your top tips on style and make-up for other Goths? 

Yes that's definitely the most loved subject. One of the things I like most about gothic culture is that there's no limit to creativity in both the clothing and the make-up! The only tip I can give then is: keep exploring for new looks! There are so many, why stopping at one? ;) More specific tips on make-up, hair and everything else can be found in GD Magazine, of course! :P

Who or what inspires you (in fashion or otherwise)?

I actually get inspired by anything and anyone that surrounds me. I always try to find the positive side of all things and people, and try to add them to my style!

How would you describe your personal style? 

I think RANDOM is the right word to describe my style. I don't really force myself to fit into a certain style, wheter it's Victorian or gothabilly. I just find myself in it. That's why I never look the same.

(c) BallerinaDark

What sort of responses does your look receive from friends and family? 

My family is fully supportive! They taught to be myself all the time and not to let people change who I am in anyway. For instance, my grandmother LOVES my gothic looks! She's always there pushing me to wear my gothiest clothes even in occasions when it's definitely not a good idea to be dressed gothic..! My friends are ok with the style too.

What sort of experiences have you had with strangers based on your style/appearance?

Mostly good experiences! I always receive compliments for my gothic looks. I remember for example once I was taking the bus to get back from work and I was wearing my lovely Alice Coat by Poizen Industries which is definitely in gothic lolita style, and there was this lady who said "Oh! I wish I could wear that too!" with her eyes looking like this --> *-* and other people got along and started asking me where I bought it and they wanted to see it closer! I can say it's even nicer when it's non-goth people appreciating you!

How did you discover Goth culture? 

Through music. I was a metalhead/rocker before becoming goth. So while exploring all the sub-genres of metal and rock I ended up listening to gothic rock and from there I started to get interested in the culture and began looking for info about it.

What is the Goth scene like in your area? What are the best and worst things about it and are there any events you recommend? 

Italy in general is not very supportive of alternative cultures which is very bad because in the other European countries like neighbour Germany the situation is very different. Not many big gothic events to attend. When I was younger (I'm 23 now so I'm talking about late 90s) to see goths around was pretty sporadic. Now, I noticed there's way more around! Probably thanks to the internet which made it easier to get in touch with the culture, also the people are more open-minded nowadays and you are not necessarily pointed out as "the devil" just because of your different looks. Lately a lot more goth-friendly clubs opened in my area and I'm very happy about it, of course. There's definitely a spark of hope for goth culture in Italy.

What does 'Goth' mean to you? 

eheh I expected this question! I don't really have words to explain what goth means to me. Just... MUCH. ^^

What bands are you into at the moment? Any new discoveries or little-known acts that you recommend? 

At the moment I'm listening to 80s bands mostly. I'm getting more and more nostalgic about that good 80s music and so I got back to listen to Duran Duran and Depeche Mode. A band I recently discovered and deeply recommend is Ladytron. I'm in love with their songs "Black Cat" and "Ghosts". A little known act I recommend is the band Witching Hour UK which I also mentioned in Gothic Divine Magazine recently. I like their 80s trad goth sound.

Other than Goth culture, what are your greatest passions and interests? 

(c) BallerinaDark

I love singing and bass playing. Music has always been a big part of my life! Then Ancient Egypt has always been among my interests too. I like reading books about it! I also have a thing for the 40s and 50s..the fashion and the music from those years are just amazing. I'm also very interested in art! My favourite artist is Salvador Dalì! And another thing I'm definitely into is ghosts and other paranormal phenomenas!

What is your 'goal' in life? Where do you see yourself in five or ten years' time?

Goal... I don't really have a goal yet. I'm not sure of what's going to be of me in the future. I just hope I'll be proud of me when I'll look back in the days.

Anything else you'd like to add? 

Maybe a little shoutout to all people reading. I know it sounds always the same boring statement but BE YOURSELVES, don't do things just because someone tells you to or because society imposes so. Think with your own minds ;) And also a big thank you to all Gothic Divine Magazine supporters! and to you Amy for this interview! ♥

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