Art Exhibit Hosts Devices for the Dead

Art Exhibit Hosts Devices for the Dead
Arts & Culture

The After Life exhibit features devices that give ghosts a way to see or communicate with the world of the living

Laura Yan
  • 7 july 2015

Incline Gallery in San Francisco will host an art exhibit with works that give the “living-impaired” a way to participate in the connected living world. After Life, curated by Valerie Leavy, will features works by artists Fernando Orellana and Al Honig, and be hosted at a former mortuary turned art gallery. Orellana created machines that sense paranormal presence and communicate it through personal objects, and Honig made anthropomorphic “urns” that give the dead a window to observe the world of the living.


For Orellana’s Shadows series, the New York based artist build machines that could detect ghostly activity to activate a personal object from the deceased. The interactive machines are built around personal artifacts Orellana found at estate sales. His machines monitor the same factors that paranormal researchers look for while ghost hunting: changes in temperature, infrared light, or electromagnetic readings. When the device detects sudden activity in two out of the three, it activates the object for the dead. Orellana calls these “techno-effigies.”


In one piece called His Minerals, the machine will light incense when it senses the ghost of a deceased man who left behind a collection of minerals and handmade incense. Another piece, Her Bell, is composed around a brass bell left behind by a deceased bell collector. When the machine senses a paranormal trigger, it rings the bell. The living gets plenty of devices to help make their lives easier. And for Orellana, the dead deserves no less consideration.


Al Honig’s Urns series are elaborate sculptures that house cremated remains of the departed. They are far, far removed from what you’d imagine an urn to look like, however. The complex, machine like sculptures are often human in scale, and have features are as anthropomorphic as they are industrial, like robots of the dead. Each “urn” also has a “window” so that the dead can observe the world outside.


The exhibit will open on July 10 at Incline Gallery, a former funeral home. In fact, the gallery was named after the ramps used to move caskets and gurneys to the embalming room.

After Life is an intriguing exploration of the possibility of life after death, and a way to honor the dead by allowing them the pleasure of interacting with the living.

After Life at Incline Gallery

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