dioramas

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Art

Potato Chip Sand Dunes, Spiral-Bound Swimming Lanes, and More Miniature Transformations from Tatsuya Tanaka

October 11, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Another year, another 365 days of miniature glory from Tatsuya Tanaka (previously).  On a daily basis for the past seven years, the prolific Japanese miniature artist has shared unique images of imagined scenes created using the simple combination of everyday objects, tiny model humans, and his boundless imagination. (For anyone keeping track, that’d be over 2,500 dioramas.) Crinkle-cut potato chips become desert sand dunes, spiral-bound notebooks delineate swimmers poised to compete, and books filled with sticky notes create an urban skyscraper scene. Tanaka periodically releases books, calendars, and post card collections of his favorite photographs, which he lists on his website. You can also join over a million Tanaka fans on Instagram and Facebook, or if you’re in Japan, check out his show in Nagoya through November 25, 2018.

 

 



Art

Miniature Installations Built Inside Suitcases Detail the Homes That Refugees Leave Behind

September 26, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Syrian-born, New Haven, Connecticut-based artist and architect Mohamad Hafez compiles found objects and scrap metal to construct miniature recreations of homes, buildings, and landscapes left by refugees in the Middle East and around the world. The dioramas for his series, UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage, are built into suitcases to pay tribute to the difficult journeys forced by the ravages of war. Miniature cars, tiny living room sets, and even fake plants adorn the open luggage—installations which each take Hafez several months to complete.

The detailed works are paired with audio recordings from refugees from Afghanistan, Congo, Syria, Iraq, and Sudan. The stories are recorded by Admed Badr, an Iraqi refugee and Wesleyan University student, and illuminate the struggles faced by those who have had to leave their homes. You can listen to the recordings on Hafez and Badr’s website for the project, and see more of Hafez’s suitcase dioramas on his Instagram. You can also see the work in person at DePauw University‘s group show “Baggage Claim,” on view until December 9, 2018.

    

 

 



Photography

Snails Occupy Miniature Sets Built by Aleia Murawski and Sam Copeland

August 15, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Creative duo Aleia Murawski and Sam Copeland build elaborate miniature sets occupied by small, slimy actors. The environments are laced with suburban nostalgia, which feature perfectly manicured lawns, plastic-coated furniture, and messy teen bedrooms littered with snack wrappers and tiny video game consoles.

The pair’s collaborative worlds are used for still images and short films. Murawski’s favorite part of shooting with snails is seeing how they interact with their sets, while also learning how to specifically direct the slow moving creatures, she explains on her Instagram. One way she and Copeland inspire certain movements while filming is by positioning cucumbers behind the sets’ tiny objects, which encourages their subjects to inch towards the hidden vegetables. The duo used this technique in their recent music video project for Bully, in which they built out an entire neighborhood and house set to outline a day-in-the-life of an extra sluggish snail.

For more slime-centered work, including this video of a motorcycle-riding snail, visit Murawski’s Instagram. You can purchase posters of the collaborative photographs on Big Cartel. (via It’s Nice That)

 

 



Art Photography

New Miniature Post-Apocalyptic Environments by Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber

February 15, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber (previously) collaboratively produce detailed dioramas caught in the throes of natural or manmade chaos. From 2005 to 2015 the pair created a series titled The City, which imagined the post-apocalyptic interiors of abandoned violin shops, malls, and natural history museums. Empire, a follow-up suite of miniature scenes, serves as a companion to this series by looking at the same imagined future from an exterior point of view.

Nix and Gerber’s new scenes move away from a focus on water-damaged and rusty interiors to explore broad outdoor environments recently devoid of civilization. Scaffolding and bridges crumble as plants begin to poke back through cement cracks, subtle hints that nature has begun to reclaim its land.

Empire presents a world transformed by climate uncertainty and a shifting social order as it stumbles towards a new kind of frontier,” the pair explain in a statement. “These places are eerily beautiful but also unsettling in their stillness and silence. Long ago, man entered the landscape and forced nature to his will. Once grand and emblematic of strength and prosperity, these landscapes now appear abused and in decay, and it is uncertain how they will continue to (d)evolve.”

Each labor intensive model can take up to 7 months to produce, which often means that Nix and Gerber will only finish two photographs a year. The handcrafted dioramas are built from cardboard, foam, and glue—impermanent supplies which are deconstructed and recycled after each shoot.

“I am afraid of what the future holds if we do not change our ways regarding the climate, but I am also fascinated by what a changing world can bring,” Nix told Colossal. “I think this is part of why we make the work we do, to try to reconcile these different attitudes.”

The pair will exhibit images from Empire at their upcoming show at Chicago-based Catherine Edelman Gallery from March 2 to April 28. You can see more of their miniature scenes from both The City and Empire on their Instagram and Facebook.

 

 



Photography

Miniature Scenes Set Amongst Office Supplies by Derrick Lin

August 2, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Photographer Derrick Lin captures the minutiae of everyday office life across landscapes of notebooks, paper clips, and coffee mugs populated with tiny figures. Working only with his iPhone, desk lighting, and a broad array of miniatures, Lin creates visual commentary on office life as well as recreations of popular artworks or scenes of escape. Many of his photos have been collected into an upcoming book titled Work, Figuratively Speaking: The Big Setbacks and Little Victories of Office Life, published this fall through Universe. See more on Instagram. (via Creators Project)

 

 



Art Photography

Weeds and Flowers Recast as Shadowy Subjects in Daniel Shipp’s Dramatic Photographs

July 31, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

In Daniel Shipp's series Botanical Inquiry, the Sydney-based photographer explores how plants and flowers found at the edges of urban infrastructure fit into our modern world. Shipp collects seemingly unremarkable plants and photographs the subjects in built dioramas, an environment that allows him to manipulate the relationship between foreground and background with a controlled precision. Through this process he is able to create dramatic photographs in-camera, shooting digitally but using old visual effects techniques developed for early cinema.

By highlighting botanical specimens we have culturally labeled “weeds,” Shipp attempts to shift the viewer’s perspective on flora that they might walk past each day. He recasts these marginal plants as the subject of each of his photographic stories, showcasing their knack for survival even in the face of pollution and harmful human intervention.

“There are some beautiful ‘weeds’ that we might walk past all the time,” Shipp explains to Colossal. “I knew that if I could present these often unnoticed plants in the right context that there was potential for storytelling. Next time you go for a walk make an effort to look for plants in places you wouldn’t normally—shopping center carparks, service stations etc.”

Shipp further explained that one of the most beautiful colors he has photographed for the series was found on the underside of the foliage of a plant common to industrial parks across Sydney. The hidden purple was one of the most incredible metallic shades he had ever seen, and it had been sneakily surrounding him for the majority of his life.

Shipp was recently announced as the winner of Magnum and LensCulture's 2017 Fine Art Photo Award. You can see more of his photographs on his website and Instagram, and take a behind-the-scenes look at his Botanical Inquiry series in the short video below. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 



Art Illustration

New Behind-the-Scenes Images of Irma Gruenholz’s Clay Portraits and Illustrations

October 5, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

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Madrid-based graphic designer and illustrator Irma Gruenholz (previously here and here), crafts her illustrations out of clay, turning the typically 2D medium on its head by creating brightly dressed figures in 3D environments. Gruenholz meticulously places and photographs each of the works, placing them in books, posters and advertisements. The artist is generous about letting her audience witness her process, snapping step-by-step images that outline actions such as making tiny sandals and arranging the hairs on a mermaid’s head.

This year, Gruenholz was shortlisted for the World Illustration Awards in London, and work is also included in the recent book “Alchemy: The Art and Craft of Illustration” now available in the Colossal Shop. You explore more of her ceramic illustration work on Behance and her website.

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