My interest in how women are shaped is combined with my ongoing investigation of girls and women who walk, talk and “motor” through history with the support – and hinderance of technology.
This project is built around the chalkboard drawings by John Harvey Kellogg. Most people know him as the inventor of corn flakes breakfast cereals but few are aware of his contributions to women’s medicine. He believed that the physiological difference between men and woman when it comes to “deep respiration” was a pathological one. Women were unable to breathe naturally “as men do” due to distorting influences of corset wearing and tight lacing.
To prove this theory, he created a series of chalkboard drawings using a pneumograph and a recording cylinder. These devices were placed consecutively on the chest and abdomen, and with the act of respiration, the pneumograph would rise and fall, simultaneously. The movement was recorded by the registering cylinder.
The chalkboard drawings represent the movement of body organs restricted by corsets (and recorded by the pneumograph machine). These drawings are embroidered onto the pages of this book. They are used to compare and contrast with other images of the corseted figured are juxtaposed with images of spines (corseted and uncorseted), corset vests for children as well as the drawings and text from historical mechanical talking and walking doll patents.
The pages are recycled vintage cotton flannel and sheer organza. The embroidery is done by machine and by hand. Antique watch springs, coils and other fixings are also hand sewn throughout the book.
You can read more about this project at my website, where there is a downloadable PDF of all the text and specs of this project: tamarstone.com/MechanicsOfBeauty.html
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