Skip to main content

The Medicine Chest

Curricula

Item set

Items

Advanced search
  • A wave crashing

    A page from the BWC guide
  • Unveiling

    A bronze bell with lead clapper. The artist Janine Antoni, asked about this work, stated that she "was thinking of an object that is simultaneously hiding and calling out".
  • Echolocation (Part one)

    In the spring of 1940, Steinbeck and his very close friend, biologist Ed Ricketts, chartered a boat and embarked on a month long marine specimen-collecting expedition in the Gulf of California, which resulted in their collaboration on a book, 'The Sea of Cortez'. Described as both a travelogue and biological record, it reveals the two men's philosophies: it dwells on the place of humans in the environment, the interconnection between single organisms and the larger ecosystem, and the themes of leaving and returning home. A number of ecological concerns, rare in 1940, are voiced, such as an imagined but horrific vision of the long term damage that the Japanese bottom fishing trawlers are doing to the sea bed. Although written as if it were the journal kept by Steinbeck during the voyage, the book is to some extent a work of fiction: the journals are not Steinbeck's, and his wife, who had accompanied him on the trip, is not mentioned (though at one point Steinbeck slips and mentions the matter of food for seven people). Since returning home is a theme throughout the narrative, the inclusion of his wife, a symbol of home, would have dissipated the effect. Steinbeck and Ricketts are never mentioned by name but are amalgamated into the first person "we" who narrate the log.
  • Echolocation (Part two)

    "In Steinbeck’s 'Of Mice and Men', Crooks consoles the simple, unaffected and kindly Lennie when his friend, George, doesn’t return from town. He tells him he should be glad that he at least has someone. 'S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t get into the bunk-house and play rummy ‘cause you was black. How’d you like that? (…) A guy sits alone out here at night, maybe readin’ books or thinkin’ or stuff like that. Sometimes he gets thinkin’ an’ he got nothing to tell him what’s so an’ what ain’t so. Maybe if he sees somethin’, he don’t know whether it’s right or not. He can’t turn to some other guy and ast him if he sees it too. He can’t tell. He got nothing to measure by. I seen things out here. I wasn’t drunk. I don’t know if I was asleep. If some guy was with me, he could tell me I was asleep, an’ then it would be alright. But I jus’ don’t know' "(Steinbeck 1973:62 in Liebenberg 2011: 102).
  • Kuhn's Jellyfish

    Kuhn's "example illustrates how the entrenched expectations of experimental outcomes and prescribed instrumental functions of an insider’s view of the laboratory and its equipment can pose a threat to new discoveries. The circumstances that enabled Roentgen (an insider) to first notice these new rays are not clear, but Kuhn proposes that the occurrence of anomaly enables discovery and that Roentgen’s ‘recognition that nature has somehow violated the paradigm-induced expectations that govern normal science’ (1970: 52–3) was important. Kuhn emphasises that Roentgen valued the anomaly instead of ignoring it – a vital step in the process of discovery" (Liebenberg 2021: 114).
  • Jellyfish

    A detail from an X-ray of my jaw
  • Eugen Ransonnet-Villez

    "Measuring three feet high by two and half wide and deep, this submersible, of sheet iron and inch-thick glass, had the user's legs sticking out of the bottom so that he could propel himself along the seabed at a depth of five meters or so. It was weighed down by cannonballs, and with air pumped in, the diving bell allowed him to descend for sessions of up to three hours" (The Public Domain Review 2021).
  • Lithograph of underwater scene

    Lithograph of underwater scene by Eugen Ransonnet-Villez, from colour pencil drawings made by the artist while submerged in his diving bell, from his 'Sketches of the Inhabitants, Animal Life and Vegetation in the Lowlands and High Mountains of Ceylon' (1867)
  • Melchior & Cousteau

    In 1963 Simone Melchior became the world's first female aquanaut by living in Starfish House, an underwater habitat, for the final four days of the Conshelf II project. Although never visible in the 'Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau' series, Cousteau's wife and business partner played a key role in the operation at sea. She was the acting mother, healer, nurse and psychiatrist to the all-male crew for 40 years. Cousteau describes her as being "happiest out of camera range, in the crow’s nest of the Calypso (...), scanning the sea for whales". ​Her father, Henri Melchior, was director of Air Liquide (France’s main producer of industrial gases at the time) and funded the invention of the aqua lung and the scuba diving apparatus we know today.
  • The Memory of Water

    "Of the cases used during Stanley's famous travels, the "Rear Guard" 'Tabloid' Medicine Chest is worthy of special mention. The chest remained in the swamp regions of the Aruwhimi for nearly four years, and more than once was actually submerged in the river. Notwithstanding these mishaps, when the chest was brought back to London and the remaining contents tested by the Official Analyst of the Lancet, they were found to have retained their efficacy "(BWC 1934: 5).
  • Resonance (Greenblatt)

    In 'Resonance and Wonder' Greenblatt discusses ‘resonant’ moments in regards to museum displays as “those in which the supposedly contextual objects take on a life of their own and make a claim that rivals that of the object that is formally privileged. A table, a chair, a map – often seemingly placed only to provide a decorative setting for a grand work – become oddly expressive, significant not as a background but as compelling representational practices in themselves. These practices may in turn impinge on the grand work, so that we begin to glimpse a kind of circulation: the cultural practice and social energy implicit in mapmaking is drawn into the aesthetic orbit of a painting, which has itself enabled us to register some of the representational significance of the map” (1991: 22- 23). For him a resonant exhibition often “pulls the viewer away from the celebration of isolated objects and toward a series of implied, only half-visible relationships and questions” (1991: 23).
  • Resonance

    Image from page 137 of the 'Curiosity CLXXV' catalogue, describing resonance and its application in MRI technology.
  • Prisoners on a Projecting Platform

    Etching from Giovanni Battista Piranesi's 'Carceri d'invenzione (Imaginary Prisons)' ca. 1749–50
  • The Pier with Chains

    Etching from Giovanni Battista Piranesi's 'Carceri d'invenzione (Imaginary Prisons)' ca. 1749–50
  • Kimberley, South Africa: miners and washing gear at the Bultfontein diamond mine

    Woodburytype
  • Griqualand West, South Africa: Kimberley diamond mine.

    Woodburytype
  • Kimberley Mine

    A detail from the wallpaper used outside the Cape Town Diamond Museum in the V&A Waterfront.
  • The Drawbridge

    Etching from Giovanni Battista Piranesi's 'Carceri d'invenzione (Imaginary Prisons)' ca. 1749-50
  • Kimberley Mine 1886

    Plate from Williams, G. 1902. 'The Diamond Mines of South Africa: Some Account of their Rise and Development'. New York, London: Macmillan.
  • Unconquerable Spirit: George Stow and the landscapes of the San

    In 2008, the exhibition 'Unconquerable Spirit: George Stow and the landscapes of the San' opened at the Iziko Museum of South Africa. Curated by Pippa Skotnes, the exhibition featured the work of a relatively unknown figure in 19th century South African history. George William Stow was a British born, South African geologist, ethnologist, poet, historian, artist, cartographer, and writer who was responsible for a creating large collection of watercolours and drawings that documented the rock art he found in the caves and shelters of South Africa. The exhibition brought together a vast range of materials representing Stow’s life and the period in which it was produced – from his drawings and paintings; his letters, documents, and poems; to his maps, and field diaries. ​ The display shows one map in particular which is kept as part of the National Library of South Africa collections, and was drawn by Stow during the period he was conducting geological surveys of the country surrounding the diamond fields of Kimberley, down to the junction of the Orange and Vaal rivers and beyond. It shows amongst other things, the diamondiferous deposits of the Vaal river during the late 19th century and, as part of this section of the exhibition which focused on Stow the geologist, Skotnes displayed it alongside relevant disciplinary materials she sourced from the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town.
  • Geological Map of the Vaal River (from 'Stow: a geological fieldguide of UCT')

    "Stow’s discovery of coal deposits in 1878, found in the beds of the Vaal River, was of interest to the diamond magnate, Sammy Marks. Marks realised the importance of Stow’s discovery and the opportunity for using coal at the Kimberley diamond fields for energy generation (Leigh, 1968:112). He believed he could transport the coal from Vereeniging to Kimberley by floating it down-river by a series of weirs to his diamond claims. This turned out to be impractical and he had to resort to using ox-wagons as a method of transport instead (Leigh 1968:17). ​ Marks & Lewis who at that time owned a quarter of all the Kimberley diamond claims, sold most of their Kimberley claims to concentrate on the coal finds through their newly formed mining company, the Zuid-Afrikaansche en Oranje Vrystaatsche Mineralen en Mijnbouvereeniging (later to become the Vereeniging Estates Limited). In 1892, the small village of Vereeniging was formally established" (Liebenberg 2021).
  • Geological Map of the Vaal River

    Geological Map of the Vaal River, from Fourteen Streams to the Kareyn Poort shewing the Various Formations, and the Positions of the Diamantiferous Deposits. Sheet No 11'.
  • Breath Sculptures

    In the exhibition, 'Chest: a botanical ecology', "this cabinet extended the ideas of fragility and fallibility represented by the broken glass laboratory bottle, displaying four ‘breath sculptures’ made by the five individual breaths of children who suffer from asthma: Thaakira Salie (aged 8), Ziyaad Small (aged 10), Blake Leppan (aged 9) and Jessie Allot (aged 11). Working in collaboration with the Allergy Foundation of South Africa and Andre de Jager, UCT’s resident glass blower in the Department of Chemistry, I facilitated a workshop in which the children were taught the practice of blowing glass and then produced their own sculptures by breathing into molten glass. The breath sculptures made by these children were far removed from the functional bespoke glassware usually produced in the workshop for chemical experiments or for those conducted for physics and chemical engineering (A. de Jager, personal communication, 20 August 2018)" (Liebenberg 2021: 263).
  • Breath on a piano

    Chromogenic color print
  • Space Station

    Household objects and spray paint. A space station made with objects found around the house, spray-painted with white enamel and suspended from the ceiling with monofilament.
  • Post-mortem ledger

    A wounded post-mortem ledger
  • The Tralfamadorians

    In Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse-Five', the protagonist Billy, is abducted by aliens and taken to their planet, Tralfamadore. Throughout the novel, Billy imparts what he has learned from the Tralfamadorians, whilst there. In one instance, in a letter to a late night radio station, he writes about their views on time: "The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads in a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever. When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that someone is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes' " (Vonnegut 1969: 24 - 25).
  • Constellation no. 3

  • Ma

    The Japanese have a word, ‘ma’, for this interval which gives shape to the whole – this ‘gap’, ‘opening’, ‘space between’ or ‘time between’. Ma is not something that is created by compositional elements, rather it can be understood as the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements. A room, for example, is called 'ma', as it refers to the space between the walls. Or a rest in music, which indicates a pause between the notes or sounds (Pilgrim 1986: 255).
  • Wave

    Screengrab of an image search, typing in 'third wave'
  • Wave

    Vaal river mud on paper
  • Vaal Bridge

    The train crossing the Vaal bridge in the picture was the funeral train of Paul Kruger, the former president of the ZAR. He died in 1904 in Switzerland and his remains were taken to Pretoria. ​
  • H.4

    This object, a leather cartridge case said to belong to Sammy Marks, occupies a place in the Special Collections of the University of Cape Town. It forms part of the Sammy Marks Papers (BC770).
  • Sharpeville

    The predominantly black community of Sharpeville was established near Vereeniging. On the 21st of March, 68 years after Vereeniging was first established, the Sharpeville massacre occurred.
  • Barkly Bridge over the Vaal River and a barge

    Woodburytype
  • Devils Bridge sketched by Lister

    'Devils Bridge' sketched by Lister on his travels through Europe showing a bridge crossing the Gotthard Pass, northern approach, Switzerland. ​The term 'devil's bridge' is applied to many ancient bridges found primarily in Europe. These were stone or masonry arch bridges and, because they represented a significant technological achievement in ancient architecture, were objects of fascination and stories. The most popular of these featured the Devil, either as the builder of the bridge (relating to the precariousness or impossibility of such a bridge to last or exist in the first place) or as a pact-maker (sharing the necessary knowledge to build the bridge, usually in exchange for the communities souls). The legend attached to the bridge sketched by Lister is of the latter, and was related by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer in 1716. According to Scheuchzer, the people of Uri recruited the Devil for the difficult task of building the bridge. In return for his expertise, the Devil requested the soul of the first thing to pass the bridge. To trick the Devil, the people of Uri sent across a dog by throwing a piece of bread, and the dog was promptly torn to pieces by the Devil. Reference: Scheuchzer, J. , 1747 [1716]. Naturgeschichte des Schweitzerlandes. Vol. 2: 94.
  • The body fluid

    "We shed many skin cells – at a rate per hour it comes close to a million cells per day. New cells generated at the bottom of our layered epidermis push their way to the top, where they are weathered by the environment and our daily activities. ​ As the living body breaks down, it becomes lodged in skin pores and clothing fibres. It is inhaled, irritates, is sneezed out and blown afar; it collects in corners, and gathers on surfaces. It welcomes company, joining with soil or, lifted by weather patterns, combines with volcanic eruptions, pollution and plant pollen, or with animal bodies, minerals, and even with burnt meteorite particles – all the while becoming increasingly microscopic and indistinct. The body, now fluid and divisible, transgresses boundaries. Transformed and nomadic, it inhabits spaces without detection. That is, until a ray of sunlight reveals drifting motes hovering in the air, or a missing shoe leads to the surprise discovery of a copulating fluffle of dust bunnies under the bed. In Gutspeak, these former remnants of ourselves are gathered by the artist Dominique Edwards from the tools used to seemingly eliminate them, and turned into sheets of paper. On closer inspection, these sheets reveal a multitude of its separate components: eyelashes, cosmetics, grains of sand, diminished chewing gum wrappers and pubic hair. There is also glitter. And a surprising amount of it. Are these cosmetic ingredients? Or...perhaps meteorite particles?"
  • The Tide Turns Installation

    Tumble dryer lint
  • The Tide Turns Installation

    Paper works made from new mops, used mops and tumble dryer lint. Sculptural installation consisting of one small intermittently rotating mop and one large continuously rotating mop.
  • Mop

    Videos projected onto a floating screen
  • Floor

    Used mop paper
  • Where their lives took on true weight

    In Alice Munro's short story 'Post and Beam', the two protagonists return home from a short vacation: "Up Capilano Road, into their own part of the city and their own corner of the world, where their lives took on true weight and their actions took on consequences. There were the uncompromising wooden walls of their house, showing through the trees" (Munro 2001: 212).
  • House

    Lokrete with metal armature Grove Road, London, E3 (Destroyed 11 January 1994)
  • Perpetuum Mobile (2400KG)

    Water, bucket, hydrophone, mist-machine, 2 400kg cement, relay timer, amplifier and cable. Water is set in motion by means of ultrasound (at times amplified by loudspeakers), generating steam that slowly spreads through the exhibition space and envelops sacks of cement whose mass is changed as the exhibition proceeds by the meandering atmospheric humidity.
  • The Northern Lights

    Histology slides of the brain (human and animal), scanned and converted into video projection
  • 175 chalk-board dusters

    For the exhibition, 'Curiosity CLXXV', the curators took an old duster from each teaching venue and replaced it with a new one.
  • Einstein's abstracts

    Cibachrome on aluminium. Microscopic magnification of Einstein’s equations from a blackboard that had been preserved in the History of Science Museum in Oxford
  • Micrographia

    Engraving, magnified view of the forms of small diamonds or shining sparks in flints (fig. 1), "the forms of gravel in urine (fig. 2), and a variety of regular for resulting from various combinations of globules (fig. 3, 4)"; Schem. 5. From 'Micrographia: or some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses with observations and Inquiries thereupon' by Robert Hooke, Fellow of the Royal Society, 1665.
  • Kimberlite

    A display outside the Cape Town Diamond Museum in the V&A Waterfront
  • Kimberlite

    Kimberlite specimens, UCT Mantle Room
Powered by Omeka S