The excellent and ever expanding Luminous Lint has a fascinating online exhibition of 19th century Memento Mori photographs. This relatively brief fashion (?) is often said to be a response to the new technology being made available to the masses, which doesn’t explain the majority of examples being shot in the USA.
The second part of the exhibition is dedicated to photographs of violent or abrupt death, if that’s your cup of tea.
I had a quick look, it’s not mine.
Other notable online exhibitions and archives
Terence Nunn’s photos of disappearing London
The Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive regularly puts small collections online.
The San Francisco based GLBT flickr group
Life magazine’s astonishing online archive
Large collection of Haight-Ashbury from the ’60s to the present photos
[See also this post]
My mate Dave has a short video available on the BBC “Videonation” minisite – musing on his future death. Down to earth, matter of fact and witty. The “Videonation” archives are great for browsing too, and the “Skills” section for new film makers is invaluable.
In the archives is a short film looking at the use of the River Soar, just outside Leicester, for the scattering of ashes after Hindu funeral ceremonies. This practice has brought complaints from some boat users, who claim that the ashes may silt up the waterway or damage boat engines. Would there be the same complaints if the practice were part of Christian ceremonies? My prop was clogged and engine stopped in the Barrow area, but not by ashes or mourners’ flowers – British Waterways had been clearing weed from the waterside and left loads of the stuff floating midstream.
On local tv news last week, a couple from Newark talked about their wishes to be buried in narrowboat shaped coffins. The report in the local press here doesn’t mention Kevin’s wish to have a “Viking” funeral, where his body would be floated out into the waterway inside his blazing boat shaped coffin. Excellent.
It happens to us all if we’re lucky enough to live that long – people we know start dying, then keep on dying until it’s our turn. No getting away from that.
MyDeath.net offers the illusion, at least, of having some control of events after The Event. You can store your preference of obituary, flowers, funeral venue, music, even your suicide note (they often, apparently, go astray) and much more in the hope that family and/or loved ones take some notice.
Most intriguing of all, you can browse other people’s stored desires but be prepared to spend several hours once you get in there. It becomes addictive.
Wisconsin Death Trip is a unique documentary-plus-drama, its starting point being photographs and stories of everyday death and despair taken from the Black River Falls newspaper in the 1890s and the work of Charles Van Schaick, the town portrait photographer. There is an excellent article by Michael Lesy, creator of the book which gave rise to the film, here . The film is available on DVD . I found a Torrent on secret-cinema.com a few months back but it seems to be off at the moment.
The excellent musarium.com has the deeply affecting Flash movie Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography In America , with a commentary by James Allen, who created the book of the same name. Chilling thought – many of these photographs were printed up and sold as postcards, a reminder that not all deaths are seen as equal.