Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dollhouse diorama crime scenes

Above you will see a work of art by Frances Glessner Lee.

It also happens to be a perfect depiction of an actual crime scene...right down to the last detail.

Lee is known as "the mother of forensics." She grew frustrated that professionals often acted on hunches and neglected to take in every available piece of evidence at a crime scene. This was due in part, she believed, to a serious lack of training tools. To rectify this, she applied her unparalleled skill at creating miniatures and created replica dioramas for real-life crime scenes.

Over at Atlas Obscura, you can see for yourself just how amazingly detailed these dioramas are. There are tiny pegs for hanging coats, there are magazines and newspapers with small but still readable print, there are wedding photos on display and the like. Even more amazing is the fact that the features on the furniture and such actually work. Drawers can be pulled from dressers, a rocking horse rocks, and locks on doors are fully functional. Not one bit of deadwood. No detail could be spared, otherwise how else were budding forensic specialists to learn? From Atlas Obscura:

"According to Kimberlee Moran, Director of Forensics at Rutgers University, both the level of detail and the form are fundamental to teaching necessary skills. “With dioramas fortunately you can’t move things around and mess things up like you could an actual scene or a staged scene, so they’re teaching documentation skills, critical thinking, problem solving, and observation.” "

I've written before about my odd fondness for dioramas and I'm certainly fascinated by Lee's. At the same time, however, I do get a grim sense in my head and a queasy feeling in my gut for I know what they represent. No matter. Lee was doing a great public service. Not purely for advancing forensic science, but the pure act of fostering critical thinking and deductive observation contributed much to academics. And my goodness, the sheer level of her skill present in painting, sewing, and so many other creative talents. Additionally, keep in mind that Lee achieved all of these accomplishments at a time when women were expected to remain in purely domestic roles.

She serves as an inspiration to contemporary artists, academics, and forensics alike.

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