Memento Mori (Catoptric)

An art theme since antiquity, memento mori has been a popular motif portraying vanitas, or emptiness, and a humbling reminder of our own mortality.

Advances in optical technology in the early 1600's gave artists new avenues to pursue amazing optical illusions using lenses and mirrors. The growing field of catoptrics—the study of reflected light and mirrors—for the development of astronomical telescopes inspired artists to use curved mirrors for surprising effects.

What was once a novel surface treatment is now fairly commonplace. Chrome pipes and polished tubes are everywhere from bathroom fixtures to office furniture.
MEMENTO MORI (Catoptric) takes advantage of these sites to insert a subtle message that this life does not go on forever. In all, one hundred distorted skulls of varying diameters were placed around Pittsburgh. For an unaware public, using the bathroom, commuting to work, operating equipment or visiting a doctor could reveal a small reminder: THOU ART MORTAL.

Project assistance: Kyle Rood

Also see:
Memento Mori (Tattoo)
Memento Mori (after Holbein)


 
Catoptric Anamorphosis (Cylindrical Mirror), 17th Century. (Collection Museo Galileo, Florence)
 
Memento Mori (Catoptric) uses a pre-cut printed distorted image made in varying diameters to fit different pipe sizes
 
Installing Memento Mori (Catoptric) on a chrome pipe
 
Bathroom Sink
 
Classroom
 
Biochemical Laboratory
 
Wood Shop Drill Press
 
Hospital Treatment Room
 
Urinal
 
Chemical Cabinet
 
Wheelchair