I’ve never known quite what to think about taxidermy.On one hand, it’s very unsettling to have an animal preserved for years and years. Whenever I see a stuffed deer head or a mounted fish at someone’s house, I feel somewhat disturbed; dead animals should be allowed to decompose like everything else.
On the other hand, taxidermy provides an interesting way to examine and preserve nature in the form of art. Chuffy and His Time Machine is definitely an example of taxidermy as art. In the Victorian era, stuffed animals belonged in a cabinet of curiosities, and this steampunk-inspired piece by Amanda’s Autopsies can definitely be described as “curious”. Basically, it consists of Chuffy – a mounted mouse – sitting cheerfully on a chariot carried on the back of a stuffed guinea pig – the time machine.
There’s an incredible amount of detail in this piece, especially in the metallic harness that rests on the guinea pig’s back, which is adorned with tiny rivets and all sorts of cogs and plates of metal. A strange green vial sits in front of Chuffy’s covered chair, and judging by the tubes that connect to various places on his mount’s harness, it probably powers the titular “time machine”.
Chuffy has a tiny newsboy hat jauntily perched on his head, and he’s also wearing the ubiquitous steampunk goggles – now shrunk down to fit his minuscule face. The guinea pig also has goggles on his face that connect to the rest of the harness.
On the side of the chassis there’s a little sign that says “Chuffy”, re-affirming that Chuffy is the mouse while the guinea pig is just the time machine. For me, the stuffed steampunk mouse is a bit too much; I rather prefer this steampunk computer mouse, which is much less dead and creepy.
The steampunk visual aesthetic has definitely influenced a lot of visual art pieces, and the theme of nature is fairly common among the movement. For example, there’s a giant steampunk horse that looks life-size, as well as this somewhat smaller steampunk horse who can gallop like the real animal.