It’s been really nice to work with them and I don’t think I would have done it in any other setting. I think it’s great because it’s more of an educational network as is Discovery but even more so. It was always a strong interest of mine and like I said about five years ago, I started getting very interested in it and then making an actual business out of it, as well.
Lena: You moved from the Discovery Channel to the Science Channel. Our show has become more scientific in information as a result so we really get a chance to talk more about some of these items in a more educational fashion. Lena: What you do requires an immense amount of knowledge of not only anatomy but so much more. Those existed in the mid-nineteenth century and I’m just carrying on the tradition.
series, artist Ryan Matthew Cohn gives a tour of the jaw-dropping collection of anatomical oddities in his Brooklyn apartment—everything from an Egyptian mummy to shrunken heads.
The smaller skulls tend to be a little easier for me to do whereas the human skulls, first off they cost a lot more money to make so there is a lot more care involved and you are using bigger components. Lena: Out of everything that you have done so far, what has been your favorite project?
Ryan Matthew: Actually, I did a project recently and it’s a skull that I took and vertically cut into six pieces. Lena: What would you like to tackle that you haven’t gotten a chance to so far?
They were teaching aids to really teach a young osteologist or even someone in the MD world what the human head consists of. Ryan Matthew: The process of disarticulation can take up to two weeks, just to get it apart.
So they are not only teaching tools but also works of art. Then there is a period of drying and then the actual articulation, where you are putting it together, that can take upwards of a month sometimes or longer.
I didn’t like it because I don’t like the actual preservation. Yes, it’s a preserved organ but there is no real color and depth to it and I didn’t like that aspect.
What I am trying to do is learn some of the more old-fashioned techniques done by anatomists such as Frederick Ruysch.
I could listen to him talk about articulating skeletons all day long and not get bored.
He has a special way of conveying complicated material in a manner that keeps it interesting and enjoyable. I really enjoyed speaking with him and he is an eccentric charming gentleman as well, so that is a plus.
I like to have both because back in the early part of medical preparation and what became specimens; they were very ornate. Ryan Matthew: A chinchilla, no but I’ve done like five or six different types of dog breeds. I did a Chihuahua and a Pug, which had an interesting skull. Ryan Matthew: That’s really funny, someone contacted me a few days ago to tell me that their chinchilla died.
The early exploded skulls were all sculptured brass and early types of mechanical pieces that would move and come apart and were just built better. I’m not sure what the other ones were to be honest with you. Well, God forbid if they ever die I can articulate the skeletons. And they were saying, “What should I do with this, Ryan? I am capable of doing it but I live in a Brooklyn apartment so it’s not the right facility to do taxidermy.
Plastination has only existed since 1978 however people have been preserving wet specimens for centuries. Ryan Matthew: I was impressed by the fact that it’s teaching people once again and I think it is educating young people about science and it’s just in general, teaching people.