DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

81 dioramas

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The idea of using forced perspective to depict a Redwood forest came from Albert Parr. He had already experimented with forced perspective displays in the Warburg Hall of Ecology and now he suggested it as a way to show the enormous height of the Redwoods without having to construct a huge diorama case. Wilson was greatly intrigued by the idea. Here, he could expand his gridding methods more fully into three dimensions, but an oddly, compressed three dimensions that piqued his interest mathematically. Forced perspective has some elements similar to the anamorphic buffalo Wilson painted on the oblique side wall in the Bison diorama. What is different in the Redwood group is that the anamorphism is sculptural as well as graphic, so in a sense, Wilson was combining a kind of bas relief sculptural compression with flat, two dimensional distortions to pull off an illusion of deep space and great height. This can be seen especially in the tree trunks. The nearest trunk is a flattened curve maybe 12″ deep with three-dimensional detail in the bark. The color is close to the actual color of the tree. The next tree back is flattened further approximately 6″ deep with no three-dimensional detail. All detail such as the bark is painted. The color of the trunk shifts to a cooler gray to enhance the receding perspective. The most distant tree is completely flat and painted in cooler colors yet.

 

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Japanese artist and photographer Miwa Yanagi constructs elaborate nightmarish black & white life-size dioramas. Into some of them she introduces a live human figure who must hold their pose with perfect stillness for hours at a time.

 

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Niagara Wax Museum of History

 

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Exploding car

 

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Alois Kronschlaeger Moose Diorama
Utilizing the habitat dioramas in the Mammal Hall of the former Grand Rapids Public Museum, I have created a site-specific installation, juxtaposing the existing landscapes of 27 dioramas built in the mid-20th century with contemporary architectural intervention.

 

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This diorama was in Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose. Yes, I added the sound, but it was creepy already.

 

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Defunct dioramas @ American Museum of Natural History (1937 – 1944)

 

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A miniature tabletop diorama created by photographer Bill Finger, who builds then destroys them after taking photos.

 

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Glitched is a series of 3D printed dioramas in smoked glass cubes by artist Mathieu Schmitt. The artist allows for the 3D model data to become corrupt in such a way that objects are printed slightly deformed.

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TITANIC breakup, sinking and wreck DIORAMA. I love it, but my one big criticism is the lack of the hundreds of people on the decks and in the water around the sinking ship. One mustn’t forget just how many people died on that night.

 

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La boite verte

 

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Boba Fett met his doom upon the sands of Tatooine in Return of the Jedi. He fell into the Great Pit of Carkoon into the mouth of the fearful and if we’re being honest, really gross, Sarlacc. It’s an awful fate that means he’ll be kept alive and slowly digested for over a thousand years. Stories in Star Wars Legends have resurrected Boba Fett by claiming he managed to crawl out of the pit and avoid being consumed by the Sarlacc, but LEGO builder Daniel Stoeffler has come up with another idea and he brought his story to life with a massive, detailed diorama.

 

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Stripper diorama

 

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My Valentines Day Diorama Inspiration.

 

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David Hoffos Scenes from the House Dream (2010)
Shoebox-sized dioramas were shoved into the walls, stages that, in many cases contained interior scenes of bedrooms and living rooms. What could be an intricate, static presentation of domesticity past—many of these scenes recall a mid-20th century aesthetic—Hoffos has transformed into a compelling non-site by merging the past with present. Scenes from the House Dream revels in visual tricks, thin video projections of human figures flickering in and out of the unmoving sets. The landscape in Hoffos’ installation extends beyond tiny rooms that you can peer into like at a caged animal in a zoo exhibit, but the handmade quasi-futuristic rooms are the most affective part of his installation. These human projections, trapped in a video loop inside these small rooms are left to perform banal, repetitive actions—Sisyphean tasks.

 

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Burning tank

 

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A few shots of the small lakeshore habitat diorama for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and State Park Nature Center near Chesterton, IN.

 

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Bloodbath Zombie Diorama finally finished and dry! Paul thinks she needs nipples…I just feel weird about it…I don’t know why…I guess I just don’t feel like zombies need to be anatomically correct. It took me months to get this diorama done. I had the bathtub out and the barbies face painted forever. Just staring at me all sad and what not. So I tried a new thing for the blood in the tub. Its the stuff that you pour into vases for fake flowers to simulate water. I added red food coloring and it came out really coagulated and gross looking, not clear red like I was expecting but more like real blood. Everyone that I’ve shown it to has had the same reaction “eww, thats really gross” or when I show my co-workers “you’re so weird”. Thats pretty much the emotion I was looking to invoke so I guess I’m pleased with the results.

 

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The Nemesis Machine

 

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How do you re-create the moon shadows seen on a snowy December night? That was the challenge artist Stephen C. Quinn faced when new energy-efficient lights were installed in the wolf diorama, creating new shadows that weren’t consistent with the scene.

 

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Lori Nix’s project The City portrays a world where some disaster has caused humans to depart for an unseen destination. What’s left behind are dilapidated structures art museums, theaters, laundromats, bars, libraries that no longer function and are slowly being reclaimed by Mother Nature. Nix and her partner Kathleen Gerber construct dioramas in her Brooklyn apartment of each idea by hand, using a variety of materials. When the diorama is finished, Nix brings in her camera and photographs it.

 

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Unexplained Death Dioramas from the 1940s

 

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5 miniature dioramas by Alex Makarenko

 

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Norway 1943 Crash Site

 

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Australian artist Mark Powell’s dioramas are populated with monstrous characters going about their business, eating, dissecting things and even playing music in dark and disturbing basements. The Australian artist models every one of his gory dioramas from silicone, which gives all the veiny monsters and pieces of flesh a disturbing organic look.

 

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Pennsylvania 1935

 

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Nicolas Cabaret Tsushima II (2010)

 

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Wildfire
Diorama made from wood, moss, yellow glitter, clear garbage bags, cooked sugar, scotch-brite pot scrubbers, bottle brushes, clipping from a bush in bloom (white flowers) clear thread, sand, tile grout (coloring), wire, paper and alternating yellow, red and orange party bulbs.

 

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Adolf Hitler Office Diorama

 

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The Indian Crow Bison Hunt, which was the largest open diorama in the world when it opened in 1966, contains a tiny secret whose discovery has become a quintessential part of the Milwaukee experience. A hidden button makes the rattlesnake in the diorama shake its tail. Do you know where the snake button is?

 

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Untitled #5

 

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Baba Yaga

 

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Jake & Dinos Chapman The Sum of all Evil (2012-2013)
Monumental in scope and minute in detail, The Sum of all Evil occupied the entire ground floor of the gallery and is the most densely imagined diorama installation that the artists have produced to date. The fourth in a series of Hell landscapes – the first and most well known of which, Hell (1999), was destroyed in a warehouse fire – the work features a multitude of intricately modelled Nazi soldiers, along with various characters from the fast food chain McDonald’s, committing violent, abhorrent acts set amid an apocalyptic landscape within four glass vitrines.

 

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At the new Moesgaard Museum in Denmark visitors literally come face-to-face with the ancestors of the human race. A unique collection of anatomically precise reconstructions of human species greets visitors already on the staircase in the museum foyer. The figures can be experienced up close or through ‘binoculars’. Looking through the binoculars, one sees a digital diorama of the lifelike figures in in their indigenous settings. The viewer feels like moving around them and inside the landscape. In order to achieve this effect, each environment was built in 3D and a virtual tracking shot was designed. The data of the virtual flight was used to film the physical reconstructions with a motion control system that followed the exact perspective of the virtual camera.

 

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Diorama Kursk

 

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Diorama artist and photographer Jonah Samson’s sex-driven miniatures are controversy writ small.

 

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Visitors to the American Museum of Natural History’s popular Butterfly Conservatory could be forgiven a moment’s confusion when they enter the exhibit through an archway marked ‘Birds of the Pacific.’ A framed mayoral proclamation, signed by Ed Koch in 1989, hangs on the wall by the entrance. It commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the museum’s Whitney Wing “and its two public exhibitions, the Whitney Hall of Oceanic Birds and the Sanford Hall of Bird Life, which have enlightened millions of students, scholars, and visitors from around the world and will continue to be sources of knowledge and enjoyment for generations to come.” Neither hall, however, really exists any more. The Sanford hall was dismantled in 1999 to make room for an expansion of the planetarium, and the Whitney hall’s fate is ambiguous: like an abandoned subway station, it can be glimpsed, but is mostly hidden. Ten of its eighteen dioramas are concealed behind the conservatory’s cocoon-shaped enclosure.

 

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Mimicafe Union The Hogwarts Dining Hall (2013)
This is a collaboration with cake decorators from around the world. All pieces are made from Fondant Sugar paste and everything is a hand made creation.

 

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In Berlin’s DDR Museum, overexposed dioramas of nudist beaches are arrayed alongside Spreewald pickles and squat “Trabbi” cars as nostalgic emblems of life in the former communist state. This splash of apparent free-spiritedness contrasts oddly with the drabness and rigidity generally associated with the Stasi state, and it is conventional to conclude that East German nudism was a rare instance of tolerated individualism in an otherwise repressive society. The Party could police your speech, your diet, your social status, your job – but in our state of nature we belong only to ourselves.

 

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On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked by five men and left for dead outside of a bar in Kingston, NY. After nine days in a coma, he awoke to find he had no memory of his previous adult life. He had to relearn how to eat, walk and write. When his state-sponsored rehabilitative therapies ran out, Mark took his recovery into his own hands. In his backyard, he created a new world entirely within his control – a 1:6 scale World War II town he named Marwencol. Using doll alter egos of his friends and family, his attackers and himself, Mark enacted epic battles and recreated memories, which he captured in strikingly realistic photographs. Those photos eventually caught the eye of the art world, which lead to a series of gallery exhibitions, an award-winning documentary, a book, and a new identity for a man once ridiculed for playing with dolls.

 

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POW Camp diorama, South Korea

 

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Sam Durant Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments (2010)

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yes, the Millicent Dillon bio is terrific. Lots there. ** Bill, Hi, B. I downloaded that Arthur Russell but haven’t cued it up yet. And I’ve been eyeing the O’Rourke set too. Weird minds think alike? I like the new Carl Stone. It builds well. I actually had a track from it in the gig the other day. ** _Black_Acrylic, I don’t think you’ll be sorry you read her once you do. Me too: always interested re: Leckey. I like his label. I don’t think I knew about his radio show though. Huh. I’m on it. Thanks, pal. ** Steve Erickson, Good plan: the train reading. I hope the actor’s mellowing or de-aggressing voice works. ** OurKeatonCousin, Have you done YourKeatonHeart? Kid geniuses rule. Bored, you? But you seem so industrious. I bet you aren’t bored anymore. The Berlin trip will probably be a quick dip, but, hey, quality not quantity or some bullshit, right? Good to see you, man. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi, Corey. It’s good reading. Awesome re: film school’s tastiness. Roller derby, sweet. I forgot that still exists. But why wouldn’t it. It’s a timeless vortex. Wow, quite an idea for the film: the trucker’s mansion spectacularly associative debacle. A trucker with a mansion? Huh. How are you going to depict that stuff? Thank you for the great, kind words about PGL. I’m obviously super happy that it worked for you. So cool that you have so much going on. You sound/write like boiling water in a great way. ** Josh D, Hey, Josh! So nice to see you, buddy. I’m pretty okay, basically, a bunch of work-related shit, but I’m sort of on top of it. Congratulations on AA working well for you. I hope that hangs in. Speaking as someone who’s basically been ‘clean’ for years and am totally into brain-only (albeit often with coffee’s help) highs. Good for you, man. I’m very happy to hear that. You take care, and I hope to see you again soon. ** Right. Who doesn’t like dioramas? I guess there must be naysayers out there, but, really, what’s not to gawk at? Anyway, that’s what has been delivered to you today. Be there. See you tomorrow.

9 Comments

  1. These Dioramas are fantastic — especially the nudist one. When I was a kid I adored the Dioramas at the Museum of Natural History in New York. The “Prehistoric Man” number in “On the Town” is a Diorma come to life

  2. Wow, quite a treasure trove today, Dennis. There’s some great stuff on Miwa Yanagi’s site, just poked around for the first time. Your selections are all from Fairy Tale, so beautiful. I remember seeing Jonah Samson’s sex miniatures before, maybe in one of your galleries? The David Hoffos looks really nice, but I can’t find much documentation online. I like the Mark Powell as well, though the execution seems a little… off. But then I can be picky about these things. Will definitely be saving this post for future inspiration. After all, I have next one off, and should be able to steal an hour here and there and get my hands dirty.

    Right after I posted the Carl Stone note, I thought “gee wasn’t this in Dennis’ last gig”? It’s pretty fun though.

    Bill

  3. YouallKeatonmeout

    November 22, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Haha, that’s a good one. That voice. If I knew now what I knew when I was a teen. Industrious, methinks you’re a bit a jokster. I’m lazy as sin. I am at work on at least two projects right now. I like to make stuff once I get going. It will be good I’m sure. That river in Berlin looks so deep for some reason. Dioramas are everything. I always expected something from them. Like the Indians were going to come to life. More than just like a painting moving around. I liked the way they fell apart so easily and looked so easily dated. Like its a death art but a life art. They are a great way to escape. A new immersive style seems to have taken their place. State museums and natural history are great for dioramas. Dioramas really inspire me. I always think were standing still and just talking in our heads or something. Started smoking pot again, strangely, it doesnt make me paranoid anymore.

  4. Damn, these are some amazing dioramas. The Lori Nix and Chapman Bros. were immediate knockouts, but they’re all impressive. Loved the Jane Bowles day yesterday and getting introduced to Carmelo Bene.

    I’ve been laid low by dislocated shoulder (right shoulder this time; dislocated the left one about 18 months ago) which is super painful and slow recovery. Both shoulders in such a short time feels like a metaphor for something, but I’m afraid to know what. Finally getting back in the swing of things – working on new novel, finishing recording on some very long marinating tracks for the band.

    Hope the WG Sebald essay I sent came through. Curious what you think of it whenever you have time to check it out.

    What’s the latest on the TV show, if you can share?

  5. As you know, I saw the Chapmans’ original Hell sculpture at the Royal Academy’s Apocalypse show. The Sum of all Evil looks to be a worthy tribute, and I can’t help but smile at how much effort and detail has gone into their stuff.

  6. Hey Dennis, it’s Florian here, sorry I’m never in touch, just have trouble with catching up on the blog haha. These are all beautiful, I have a number of old photos I took in a natural history museum with a wide range of animal dioramas.

    How have you been? I’ve been updating/reorganizing my site recently, would love if you checked it out <3

    https://www.florian-93.com/

    Is there some other way we can keep in touch?
    As always my email is always open haha
    I don't really use Facebook anymore, too stressful

  7. I have listened to all four takes the actor sent me, and the third one is pretty close to what I’m looking for. I don’t know what instructions you and Zac give to the actors you audition, but I find it a general rule of thumb that actors tend to overdo things unless you tell them to tone it down.

    I’m putting together a YouTube playlist of my favorite music of 2019 to accompany my top 10 list. Next to your music posts, it looks painfully mainstream, but I know there are people out there who have never heard of FKA Twigs or Big Thief.

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