Prior to the advent of photography which established lockets as the new memento, the cameo was a very real way to own a wearable remembrance of a loved one, king, or symbol of mythology.
Cameos are important to the history of identification, for they served as extensions of the cameo subject's power. Though the Victorian trend of modeling women in cameos evidences the source of the contemporary belief that this was historically the norm, it is the exception. Prior to Victorian times, cameos were typically of men - rich, powerful men. That these men were included in paintings of their wives and daughters through a small piece of jewelry illustrates not only how powerful the men were in comparison to the women, but also demonstrates the etymology of the phrase "cameo appearance."
Historic cameos were about power and domain. The sentimentality of the Victorian era took the cameo to a whole new level. Memento mori jewelry, as demonstrated through the cameo, provides a "direct" representation of a loved one - a romantization of a person who may or may not have existed in the way that the wearer perceives them. I have taken this idea of the ideal and sentimental, and have chosen a personification of an idealized future - a little robot.
Robots, for me, symbolize artificial intelligence, a 20th century exploration of technology. Most visions of artificial intelligence, are dystopic, from Metropolis to the Matrix. And yet, nostalgic images of robots, and utopic ideas about the future promised from the beginning of the 20th century through the 1950s, demonstrated through mass media like "The Jetsons" television show, encapsulate a rosy vision for the future.
“Roboto Mori” is a cameo brooch depicting a nostalgic-looking robot. Highly detailed, it is entirely hand fabricated of sterling silver, 2mm chrome-plated steel ball bearings, 5mm brass gears, and onyx stones. Though it is constructed of metal rather than the stone cameos were traditionally cut from, it was created in much the same way - the robot itself is on an oval base that was set into a box bezel that has been ornately decorated.
Copyright © 2008, Amy Johnston