Where are the headless people?

Today I spent some time at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and was forced to climb up long flights of stairs by my husband to the contemporary exhibit (yes, I am a lazy person).  Anyhow, it was worth the effort, as there was a strange new media exhibit called Lost in the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, on the top floor in which I discovered some interesting things.  There were several rooms in which visitors can enter and experience something visually or acoustically.  One room felt like you were in someone’s apartment in the middle of a storm in which lots of water poured down from the windows and there was thunder/rain noises.

Another featured a killing machine with robots drilling/interacting with an empty chair with leather straps (you pretend someone is in it I suppose), spooky violin music and a disco ball which create lights all over the room.  The lights looked like a nuclear medicine scan of the heart and the music at that point was a heart beating, then stopping (with lights going out = person is dead I presume).  Not sure if the artist knew that; if they did, I would be super impressed.


There was one room which looked like some strange genius occupied it, as there were stacks of books, cups with fake bugs in it, plates of fake food, plastic heads and odd machinery parts.  If you sat between two large gramophone tubes, voices start asking who you are and there is a pre-recorded dialogue with conversation between two strangers.  It appears the random music and voices start talking once you approach a particular area, leading me to believe there are some motion detectors in the room.  Out of all the items in the room, there was one book with maps which caught my eye featuring maps by Italian sailor and cartographer named Andrea Bianco of the 15th century.  It was fascinating as the map featured Russia, England, Jerusalem, etc and had locations of the “Garden of Eden” along with the “Headless People.”  Doing searches on google, I can not locate this map.  However, I learned at the time that many biblical places were put onto maps as it seemed like a popular thing to do back them.  Will have to go back to the gallery before August 18 and see what the title of the book is.  I want to find out more about the headless people and their mythology if any!

For those interested in world maps throughout the centuries, here is a great site with scans of maps from different periods – ancient (6200 BC to 600 AD), early medieval (600AD-1300), late medieval (1300-1500) and renaissance 1492-1800.

bianco world map