“Lythomancy”, is an experimental ongoing-research on how to pass electricity through hair and consequently create a piezoelectric microphone with home-grown crystals. This research began with the question “how can I pass electricity through the hair and thus amplify the sound they create?”, and rose from my work “Serpent and Lily” – a bow made out of my own and other Cypriot women’s hair.
Besides the fact that hair is one of the largest wastes on the planet, hair has also a strong socio-cultural symbol often indicating individual and group identity. Thus, signal how the body behaves within the socio-cultural context and the economic structures. For Edmund A. Leach, the socio-cultural symbolism behind cut hair related with the psychoanalytic, associated with castration that points out to a variety of symbols. Cut hair communicate loss, mourning, permanent change, death, religion and tradition, social taboos, gender preference, sexual desire and restriction, gender, age, political stances, and the psychological state of the beholder. Hair aesthetics, as well as castration, is a life perception that invests on self-construction, social and the self-image, thus indicates the auto-history of the beholder.
For Deborah Lutz, when hair is cut, death takes form in a similar manner to the relic worshiping during the eighteenth and nineteenth c. At that time, women woven embroideries and jewellery from human hair to trace life and death. The materiality of death in such practices, suggests the “desire to see death as a proof that the dead – the death, exists somewhere” in life. It is a practice that also suggests the form of an after-life, perhaps in a parallel – or simultaneous environments to that of the living.
With Lythomancy, I study how to turn the subject into an object, inanimate objects to life, and turn relics into sound jewelleries to display affection similar to that of the relic worship during the nineteenth-century.
Gubta, Ankush. 2014. “Human Hair “Waste” and Its Utilizations: Gaps and Possibilities.” Journal of Waste Management volume 2014. Accessed 12 September 2020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/498018
Hirschman C., Elizabeth and New Brunswick. 2002. “Hair As Attribute, Hair As Symbol, Hair As Self.” GCB – Gender and Consumer Behaviour volume 6: 355-366
Leach R., Edmund. 1958. “Magical Hair.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland volume 88 (2): 147-164
Lutz, Deborah. 2011. “THE DEAD STILL AMONG US: VICTORIAN SECULAR RELICS, HAIR JEWELRY, AND DEATH CULTURE.” Victorian Literature and Culture 39, no.1. pp. 127–142. Accessed March 27, 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/ S1060150310000306.
Pergament, Deborah. 1999. “It’s Not Just Hair: Historical and Cultural Cosiderations for an Emerging Technology.” In Symposium on Legal Disputes Over Body Tissue, editors Dorothy Nelkin and Lori B. Andrews, 3-14. (1) Vol 75. United States of America: Chicago-Kent College of Law Review, 41- 59 Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/ cklawreview/vol75/iss1/4
Synnott, Anthony. 1987. “Shame and Glory: A Sociology of Hair.” The British Journal of Sociology volume 38, (3): 381- 413. Accessed April 24, 2020. https://www.jstor.org/stable/590695
Courtesy the artist
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