Lori Nix’s Photographs Of Danger And Disaster Are Actually Miniature Worlds Painstakingly Made By Hand

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In her ongoing series “The City,” photographer Lori Nix creates incredibly detailed scenes by hand in miniature, then photographs them. The result is an amazing collection forecasting scenes of danger and disaster. The pictures share some commonalities with Matthew Christopher’s “Abandoned America,” recently covered on b/d, but instead of finding places that have been left behind, Nix constructs them.

“In my newest body of work ‘The City’ I have imagined a city of our future, where something either natural or as the result of mankind, has emptied the city of it’s human inhabitants. Art museums, Broadway theaters, laundromats and bars no longer function. The walls are deteriorating, the ceilings are falling in, the structures barely stand, yet Mother Nature is slowly taking them over. These spaces are filled with flora, fauna and insects, reclaiming what was theirs before man’s encroachment. I am afraid of what the future holds if we do not change our ways regarding the climate, but at the same time I am fascinated by what a changing world can bring.”

The images are classically composed, with a balance of color and space. Even once the viewer is told that these are dioramas, it’s difficult to believe. The intricate details, realistic lighting, and cohesive scale make them absolutely lifelike.

“My scenes can be as small as 50×60 centimeters and as large as 182 centimeters in diameter. It takes approximately seven months to build and photograph a scene. I build it for one angle of view and never move my camera from that spot. I will change the lighting, the placement of the objects and re-shoot until I’m fully satisfied with the results.”

Nix’s apocalyptic visions are both familiar and fantastic. She presents a world on a tabletop that is beautiful and alarming.

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Miniature Dioramas By Didier Massard Unfold Surreal Landscapes

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French artist Didier Massard creates eye-deceiving miniature dioramas depicting surreal, mystical landscapes. From a first glance, these sets remind of extremely detailed, hyper-realistic paintings or digitally rendered images. The striking effect unfolds after closer examination, when the viewer is exposed to careful layering and thoughtful light arrangements.

Massard explains his inspiration comes from real and imagined places. The limits of real life infuses his imagination to create mythological and romantic scenarios, which he then calls “the completion of an inner imaginary journey”. China, India, the cliffs of Normandy and many other locations have been depicted in Didier’s works.

“There were many places in the world where I’d never gone that I wished to photograph. I realized that they would not at all look like the images I had of them. Reality was different from my imagination. So I started building and photographing in a studio what I had in mind.”

Artist spends months constructing his miniature worlds, thus the collection is only slowly growing in size. Massard started his career as a commercial photographer for fashion and cosmetic companies like Chanel, Hermes and others. After his first series of dioramas, titled “Imaginary Journeys”, his work was acknowledged and now Didier works exclusively on his personal projects. His work is currently on display at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles until August 23.

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Walter Potter’s Curious Victorian Taxidermy

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In 1850, Walter Potter was 15 years old when he first began experimenting with taxidermy. By the age of 19, Potter had already created his best-known taxidermy tableaux, “The Death and Burial of Cock Robin” which was displayed, along with his other work, at a pub his family owned in Bramber, West Sussex. Potter’s taxidermy dioramas feature anthropomorphized animals acting out Victorian life scenes. During the Victorian era, taxidermy was a popular practice, and in 1880, a dedicated museum building was opened because the tableaux at the pub had created quite a scene. Over time, the interest in taxidermy declined, and the museum was moved before closing down.

Though Potter’s dioramas could be considered morbid, especially by modern standards, there’s something Beatrix Potteresque (no relation) about his work, mostly in its strange and whimsical Victorianism. “Kittens’ Wedding” was Potter’s last tableaux before his death in 1890; this piece was auctioned at Bonham’s (along with most of the collection) in 2003 for £21,150 (around $35,500). Among those present at the auction were artists Peter Blake, David Bailey, and Damien Hirst, who reportedly bid £1 million (almost $1.7) for Potter’s entire collection, but it was rejected by the auctioneers. This caused the owners of the collection to sue Bonham’s because they believed such an offer should have been immediately accepted in order to keep the collection in tact. In 2007, Hirst told The Guardian that “Kittens’ Wedding” was one of his favorites of Potter’s work: “All these kittens dressed up in costumes, even wearing jewellery. The kittens don’t look much like kittens, but that’s not the point.”

The Telegraph notes, “To a modern eye [...]these ‘freaks of nature’ appear eerily macabre. Indeed, some Victorian viewers were outraged by the grotesquery and criticised Potter for abuse of animals, despite a museum disclaimer stating that no animals had been deliberately killed for the collection.”  But then they later explain that not all of Potter’s tableaux were sourced ethically. Before neutering was commonplace, freely roaming farm kittens would often be killed off. Potter had an agreement with a local farmer who provided the kittens; this would explain the high number of participants in his tableaux.

The accompanying images are sourced from Dr. Pat Morris and Joanna Ebenstein’s book about Potter and his work, “Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy,” released earlier this year. Ebenstein says that she’s interested in “the context that creates these things, and why certain things come to be seen as bizarre to us, when obviously they weren’t at the time.” (via telegraph)

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Jeff Friesen Uses Legos o Satirize The 50 US States

West Virginia: Bobby has five minutes left on his shift in the coal mine. Just enough time to dig a little deeper.

West Virginia: Bobby has five minutes left on his shift in the coal mine. Just enough time to dig a little deeper.

Washington: We can only close our eyes using clothespins.

Washington: We can only close our eyes using clothespins.

Texas: Rounding up little doggies who have lost their way.

Maryland: Today the crabs decided to have a picnic of their own.

Canadian Photographer Jeff Friesen uses the iconic Legos to build dioramas that he later photographs. In the series 50 States of Legos, Friesen satirizes each state in the United States using the toy’s characters, blocks, and accessories. Scenes are set against colorful backdrops like mountains, beaches, and grassy lands. Some include aliens, cowboys,and even historic figures like George Washington.

Each state has their own legacy or a reputation for something. Friesen plays on these associations and includes witty captions that accompany them. I live in Maryland, for instance, where eating crabs is a cherished pastime. Friesen pokes fun at this, turning crabs against a couple trying to boil a crab. Other places receive the same, if not more over-the-top treatment. Alaska features a Yet fishing with an Eskimo. A cowboy in New Mexico is prodded by an alien. There is a dragon in the mines of West Virginia. Friesen’s series is a light-hearted look at the states, which are made even more amusing the more time you spend with them and their details. (Via Honestly WTF)

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Prison Art: The Story Of An Incredibly Detailed Monkey Bar Diorama Made From Scraps And Gifted To Henry Ford

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Henry Ford’s Digital Collections Initiatives Manager Ellice Engdahl recently wrote about one of his favorite artifacts of the 18,000 published online: The Monkey Bar diorama. This diorama was created by a man known as Patrick J. Culhane (various spellings) in 1914-15 during his time at the Massachusetts State Prison at Charlestown where he’d been sent after a conviction of “larceny from a conveyance.” Culhane carved and assembled this incredibly detailed piece of prison art by hand from a variety of materials, including peach pits, and scraps of wood, fabric, metal, cellulose, and plastic, all fitting into a base measuring only 16″ x 20″.

Engdahl notes that Monkey Bars were created by other prisoners in the early 20th century, and that “Culhane intended the diorama to depict many of the worldly pitfalls that had put him and his fellow inmates on a path to prison. The Bar is chock full of monkeys engaged in all kinds of rambunctious activities—drinking alcohol, gluttonous eating, smoking (cigarettes, cigars, and opium), gambling and gaming in many forms (craps, roulette, checkers, shell game, and cards), playing music, monitoring the stock market via a ticker, and even paying off a policemonkey. Clearly some of the monkeys are ready to check into (or out of) the associated hotel, as they have their suitcases with them and keys and mail are visible behind the desk.”

After Culhane finished his piece, he arranged to have it sent to Henry Ford, with a hand-written note, “Presented to Mr. Henry Ford / As a token of appreciation and esteem for his many benevolent and magnanimous acts toward, and keen interest in, prisoners / By A Prisoner.”

Engdahl surmises that Ford became interested in Culhane, and may have a hand in his release from prison, as Culhane was hired to work at the Ford Motor Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1916 and Ford’s secretary corresponded with Culhane regularly.

All photos courtesy of The Henry Ford. (via Slate)

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Toilet Paper Roll Dioramas By Anastassia Elias

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Artist Anastassia Elias is perhaps best known for a a simple but intricate style of artwork.  She creates tiny dioramas inside toilet paper rolls that come to life upon shining a light through it.  Elias delicately cuts each scene from paper and places it inside the roll.  Though each diorama contains a great amount of detail, Elias has been able to create an extensive amount of work in the series.  In fact, she recently released a book documenting her paper roll work between 2009 and 2012.   [via]

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Violence, Death, The Holocaust And McDonald’s

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Jack and Dinos Chapman’s latest installation is currently on view in Hong Kong. The work is comprised of four dioramas depicting historical events with miniature figures. Violence, holocaust, and death pervade the work, as well as commercial images of characters from McDonald’s. This creates a landscape rife with gritty humor and heavy irony. This work evokes a level of discomfort that is shockingly arresting. Jake says, “It’s as pessimistic as we can make it but it’s pessimistic in a joyful sense. Fatalistic in a joyful sense. There’s nothing foreboding about this. It doesn’t serve any kind of moral end…We take McDonald’s as being a marker of the transformation from industrialisation to the end of the world. McDonald’s once represented the idealism of fast food and the space rest era. Now it’s consistent with the dilation of the ozone and a litigious clown who’s lost his sense of humour.’”  Check out other posts we’ve done about these artist brothers here.

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The Library Dioramas of Marc Giai-Miniet

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These aren’t photos of bisected buildings. Rather, they’re the carefully constructed dioramas of artist Marc Giai-Miniet.  His little libraries inhabit multi-storied buildings, perfectly suitable for us bookish nerds.  However, many of his pieces almost seem to be hiding something sinister.  The floors become darker, dirtier, more utilitarian the deeper they are in the building.  Soot stained boiler rooms occupy the basement floors along with objects long forgotten.  Perhaps the entire structure is a metaphor for the mind in a way: the diligent ego among the book lined floors and the unconscious hidden down in the dingy cellar.

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