Pickled Monsters by Daniel Pon

As a bay area native of Chinese decent, I have always been attracted to the exotic and the bizarre. I dream of a world much less common then what I normally see. In an attempt to make the world around me more like the world of my dreams, art and expression are my choice mediums.

I draw influence from multitudes of areas including my background in science/medicine, literature, the macabre, sub-cultural and mad scientist aesthetics. These influences and an obsession I have with cephalopods (Squids/Octopus/Cuttlefish) have resulted in these squid sculptures. These animals are remarkably intelligent with incredibly complex behaviors. For over 10 years, I have raised and even bred different species of cephalopods, humbly contributing what I learn to this very little studied field of marine zoology. Squids and cephalopods have been represented as mysterious and monstrous within literature, movies, and even recent news. Giant squids (Krakens) for hundreds of years existed as only a sailor's tale until they began to find decomposed bodies within whale's stomachs. With eyes larger then dinner plates, these scientists were only able to imagine what they were like alive. A current warming of the oceans has lead to squids of all types to be discovered and found in record numbers. The giant squid, previously thought to be the largest, has been replaced by a newly discovered species dubbed the ‘Colossal' Squid. Although not as impressive as the Colossal Squid, I have chosen a smaller species, the Nototodarus gouldi (Arrow Squid) to immortalize in my sculptures.

To the dismay of my three roommates, the squids are articulated and preserved in my San Francisco apartment. The articulation of the squids was a process that took a year to perfect. Great care must be used in handling the squid for their skin is very delicate. The squids are suspended and articulated within an alcohol environment. Speed and accuracy is needed for once submerged, the chemical reaction from the alcohol and the cells of the squid begin. As little as 30 minutes is enough for the squids positioning to become ‘fixed'. Once successfully articulated, the squids take 3 weeks to be permanently preserved. The Boxes are made mostly of quality oak and the squid can rotate 360 degrees to allow viewing from any angle. The uplighting and the black wooden stain interior create a contrast and mood that exemplifies the mysterious nature of these animals.

Daniel Pon – Paradox Designs