Lisa Black

Lisa Black

Lisa Black is a sculptor from New Zealand with a very unique imagination. After finding a damaged, stuffed fawn at a garage sale, she was so inspired that she decided she felt she had to “fix” it by adding mechanical limbs, organs, and other crucial pieces. Some of her work, like the crocodile seen below, even includes working gears in place of the heart.

Despite what one might think, Lisa’s work is driven by a desire to celebrate the beauty of animals. She is a highly passionate person with a deep respect for the animal kingdom. Her work is also somewhat influenced by the trans-humanist movement, a belief that is helping humanity embrace the use of technology on an intimate level.

“My aim is not to celebrate the beauty of animals or their death as other taxidermy artists propose, but simply to offer an aesthetic deviation.”

Format: Your collection is called Fixed. Something was broken?
Lisa Black: To me, the animals are being fixed. Broken bones and dying organs replaced with technology to salvage them.

Format: What is your inspiration for your “fixed” animals?
Lisa Black: I like the idea of fauna being held in such high regard that the complete fabrication of organs and limbs for injured creatures is justified–maybe because we’ve blown everything else up.

Format: How long does it take for you to “fix” an animal?
Lisa Black: It depends on a few factors: one being the size of the animal, another being the necessary parts. The fawn was my first ever piece and took me at least three months.

Format: What sort of parts do you use for your animals?
Lisa Black: I use mostly vintage mechanical parts such as clock movements, antique hardware, cables, chains, and countless screws.

Format: There was a Marilyn Manson album called Mechanical Animals. I wonder if this inspired you as well.
Lisa Black: I am unfamiliar with a lot of Manson’s work. However, music has always influenced my artistic direction. I choose to always work with music playing; to me, music is an effective way to escape into another mind-space.

I have especially appreciated the progressive music of Nine Inch Nails over the years. I was lucky enough to meet the lead singer, Trent Reznor, a few years ago, and it was a great inspiration. He was polite and somewhat shy and it made me realize that greatness can come from anyone who has the passion to achieve it.

Lisa Black

Format: We all knew a child, when we were growing up, who had some unhealthy obsessions for hurting animals. Did you know anybody like that or were you that child?
Lisa Black: I was a girl running around in the rain saving ants from drowning in puddles. I have a great respect and appreciation for animals; however, my aim is not to celebrate the beauty of animals or their death as other taxidermy artists propose, but simply to offer an aesthetic deviation.

Format: Have you studied taxidermy? How are your pieces, such as the heart, preserved?
Lisa Black: I haven’t studied taxidermy. I rescue animals from garage sales and online auctions…usually broken. The animals are all taxidermy and the heart was never meant to last. It belongs in a series of prints.

Format: Ok, so you mean the heart was never preserved? What animal was it from?
Lisa Black: That’s right. It was a real sheep’s heart which I worked on within the day. I really enjoy working with soft tissue; it can be very easily manipulated.

Format: Have you come under fire from animal rights activists?
Lisa Black: Yes. Combining the beauty of animals with the cold juxtaposition of machinery for some people creates an adverse reaction. I often wonder why there’s only been a concern about the fawn or duckling though. No one has ever said anything negative about the crocodile or ferret.

Lisa Black

Format: How has your experience been with social networking sites like Behanced? How have they enhanced your career?
Lisa Black: I started creating my sculptures in mid-2007, and Behance was the perfect first step for showcasing my work. I have had thousands of hits on Behance, and they really encourage artistic diversity.

Format: Some have a vision of the future where cybernetics and robots may become common-place. Do you share a similar view of the future?
Lisa Black: It’s already happening; look up cybernetics on Youtube.com and you will find a lot of “fixed” humans.

Someone who saw my work sent me this poetry excerpt:

ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE

“I like to think (and the sooner the better!) of a cybernetic meadow where mammals and computers live together in mutually programming harmony like pure water touching clear sky. I like to think (right now, please!) of a cybernetic forest filled with pines and electronics where deer stroll peacefully past computers as if they were flowers with spinning blossoms. I like to think (it has to be!) of a cybernetic ecology where we are free of our labors and joined back to nature, returned to our mammal brothers and sisters, and all watched over by machines of loving grace.” –Richard Brautigan

I like to consider my animals retaining their own intellect and thought processes, and in need of physical reconstruction only.

Lisa Black

Format: I did not know that Richard Brautigan, one of the Beat Poets and peer to Jack Kerouac, felt that way about the future. That’s very cool. How did you feel when you read the poem? Were you moved? Surprised?
Lisa Black I was moved that anyone would take the trouble to send it to me.

Format: Are you familiar with the Trans-humanist movement?
Lisa Black: Yes. The line between natural evolution and technological evolution is already seriously blurred. I don’t see the difference between vaccines/antibiotics, robotic limbs, and embedded RFID tracking chips.

Format: You list “steampunk” as one of your influences; can you educate our readers on the culture?
Lisa Black: I’m not really interested in the culture but more the aesthetic of steampunk; in fact, when I first started I wasn’t really even aware of “steampunk” or what it was. I can say I was definitely influenced by movies like Bladerunner, La Cité des Enfants Perdus, and comics like Hellboy, so I really use the term to try describe the genre rather than a sub-culture.

Format: Which is your favourite piece?
Lisa Black: My favorite is the baby crocodile. He was a tricky one.

Format: Where has your work been featured?
Lisa Black: Thanks to my profile on Behance, my work has been featured in many high profile sites, such as Wired, Makezine, Notcot, Gizmodo and the Metro Post, UK. You can check my online portfolio for the links.

Format: What is your next animal project?
Lisa Black: I am creating a turtle in the same vein as the crocodile.

More Info: http://www.behance.net/LisaBlack

Lisa Black

Jesse Ship
I'm currently Managing Editor of this little web mag here.
Jesse Ship

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13 comments

  1. I can’t help the fact that I do find this a little disturbing. I know there’s different kinds of art but as an animal lover this really doesn’t appeal to me..

  2. Whats worse, dead animals as art, which will last forever and provoke thought and conversations. Or the rows and rows of dead animal in the supermarket cooler? Or leather shoes/handbag/sofa?

    It might be a little disturbing, but as far as not animal friendly? You guys probably abuse animals for a lot less daily, even if you guys are leather free vegans or whatever, you’re nearest and dearest likely aren’t. So many people can be critical of this sort of thing because they can’t feign the same kind of ignorance they do when then see a leather belt.

    I think this is the best use of animals since the T-Bone. Good work Lisa Black.

  3. Im an artist myself and I love animals . I think that your work is very creative. It reminds me of some story that I read somewhere as a child . I can understand the idea of replacing the animal parts with mechanical ones that work. I would love to see more of your work.

  4. Dominique rodrigues says:

    Great work. It’s not sick. And i think it is desturbing too. But that’s what makes me like it. Anyway, if the animals ware dead alredy, what’s the deal?

  5. iam a huge animal lover. and do love her work. in my eyes, its art. and its not like she ran out bashing animals heads with rocks or anything. shes just doing what she does best. i dont see anything wrong with it. its beautiful.

  6. Lisa your work is very original and inspiring! The fine details and perfection simulate a true artist. Art is suppose to be controversial and different. I can’t wait for your new work!

    This is not the least bit inhumane. It’s the complete opposite!

  7. This is really sick. Art should be challenging, not merely shocking. Black is just a butcher who has no respect for animals. Why doesn’t she use a human corpse of a person who diet a natural death?

  8. transmission says:

    Antonio .. ‘Black is a butcher’ ?? you really are a messed up human being. You ask ‘why doesn’t she use a human corpse’?? – I am sure that if you are offering something could be arranged, you may finally contribute something positive to the world instead of just your narrow minded rant!

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