Little women, little dinos

5 October 2019

The German figures received a well deserved weekend off and I turned my attention to two figure-groups which I had recently acquired: dancers and dinos. I picked up the 1:48 scale vintage plastic dancers on Etsy for just a few dollars and the dinos from a local feed store. My husband encouraged me to work with both model types- why not dancers and dinosaurs? As the obvious way to approach this combination would be dinos eating dancers, I attempted to leverage the juxtaposition- grace with power- and create dance scenes.

I like these images. I am very pleased by the image of the ballet dancer on the chair, where her dinosaur is gazing up at her with admiration. Technically, the composition is interesting and balanced, the colors in the floor are complex and the chairs behind the dancer serve to create an internal frame.

Below are photos demonstrating my method. I have created a small, collapsible stage of off-cuts of wall-board and use duct tape to hold the back in vertical. I have used gel to line the walls and floor of my set in my previous photos. This time, I pulled pages from a home furnishing catalog and taped them to the back of the stage. As I shoot in low light, the short depth of field blurs the background and adds to the illusion of depth.

13 October 2019

Certain images and ideas have been of such great evolutionary importance that we store prototypes in the brain that predispose us to react in certain ways to them – an infant’s cry, the human face, mating signals (innate releasing mechanisms). Similarly, Richard Wagner and Carl Jung (among others) noted that myths around the world repeat quintessential characters and situations that reveal human nature in profound ways (archetypes). For example, the idea of a dragon appears in myths and fairy tales of all cultures, predating the discovery of dinosaur fossils. This may represent a residual fear of giant reptiles dating from a time when our mammalian ancestors struggled with them for survival on the earth. Our prehistoric terror emerges in the popularity of museum exhibits and films like Jurassic Park.

Wilson, G.D. (2009). THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERFORMING ARTS: THEATRE AND HUMAN EXPRESSION. Gresham College. Retrieved from: https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-psychology-of-performing-arts-theatre-and-human-expression

October 20, 2019

I am continuing to work with the dinosaurs and dancers, however, have been questioned about what it all means. In it’s original state, dancers and dinos are literally two things that I put together somewhat randomly. I had constraints on subject matter, and while I was not feeling well, decided to continue to work in miniature because it’s convenient and fun.

I tried an experiment today related to my former project of Willful Blindness. I somehow want this work to have more meaning, yet continue to have the same style and lighting that I have created. I found some images of the atom bomb tests in western USA, and some of Hitler’s massive crowds. I wanted to see if I could create a situation where the viewer clearly sees the dancer and the dino, and can see enough of the background to see that it is something, but not sure what it is. I use a very short dof so the background is quite blurred.

The Bomb over the Pacific Ocean
Nuclear family: Operation Doorstep- mannakin family waits for the blast.

I think that the images are fairly successful: the colors are rich and interesting, the dancer and dino are in focus and the composition is fine. I don’t think that the images can stand on thier own, that is, they need an explanation. I am not sure of the idea of combining historical events with the dancer/dino. The duo is successful when in a fantastical place, however, the historical events beg the question of reality and the viewer may think “why a dino”?

October 26, 2019: I have been reading up on Operation Doorstep, the US Department of Defense nuclear experiements in Nevada. I understand that nuclear weapons were new and that there was a need to better understand the effect of weapons on human dwellings, but it’s just weird. Friendly family scenes in fully outfitted homes- there to be blown up. All mannakins are Caucasian- and the house was large, for a well-to-do family. Operation Doorstep would be a very interesting project to research.

In this experiment (above), I printed the family picture onto silk organza which has diaphenous and has a very open weave. Shining light on the front of the picture shows more of the family, and shining light behind the fabric reveals more of the background. It’s essentially what is called a scrim in theater. I printed out a picture of NATO forces watching an explosion and placed it in the back of the theater set-up. I wanted the dancer to seem out of place and oddly celebratory. I am not happy with the result – the scrim material if obvious. The dancer, while out of place, doesn’t really have a purpose. I was hoping to explore willful blindness, but it doesn’t fit that idea. I will try the scrim idea again, but will consider the content.