Thursday, December 6, 2012

Diorama of darkness

There is art and then there is art.

Then there is art that may make you uncertain if it really is art, but you find it captivating nevertheless.
I suppose that's how I feel about these dioramas by photographers in an ongoing project in Belgium called Box.  Being a possessed of an unquenchable thirst for all that is geeky, I have always loved dioramas.  Scale models of towns and countries in museums?  Those little New England snow-covered towns you see at Christmas time?  Love 'em all.  And don't even get me started on battle scenes.  Perhaps that's why these larger-scale dioramas reel me in and leave me unable to get back to where I was for quite a while.  As the description at the link reads:

"The photo series shows darkly bizarre dioramas built into cardboard boxes. Each was built in two to three days around the perspective of the camera to ensure the scenes have the right angle and depth. As the team begins construction, they set the camera on a tripod and are constantly looking through the viewfinder to make sure the camera can accurately capture the scene they have in their heads. Once they have the scene built, they then figure out the lighting, photograph the human subjects and then Photoshop the subjects into the setting."

As is often the case with art exhibitions, the artists are often besieged with plebeian questions such as "what does this mean?" The answer, as it most often is in art, is "what do you take away from it?" 

“We try to not explain too much,” [Maxime] Delvaux [a member of the Box art collective] says. “The point is to let people interpret the moment.”

After all, is there any one "correct" way to interpret the street scene above or the man burning his clothes below?

One aspect I found interesting in the article was how photographers liked the dollhouse-sized, cardboard settings.  This allowed for complete control of their subjects and of the scale involved in the composition.  The disjunction of scale can sometimes make for an unsettling feeling for the viewer.  That in itself is a desired effect in art, that awkwardness of finding one's self no longer in an intellectual safe space.

Yes, these pieces dwell primarily on dark themes, but let's face it.  There's quite a bit of humor involved as well.  In fact, this next piece might just be my Christmas card for this year:

My e-novella, Hound of Winter is available for only 99 cents

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