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Lori Nix My photos begin as highly detailed dioramas I construct from everyday items such as wood, plaster, and foam as well as scale model supplies. I build them with one eye towards reality and creating a believable landscape. Drawing on my surroundings for inspiration, I want to create a world that is familiar to the viewer, with recognize able details, that causes them to believe that it is a legitimate place. I want to fool the viewer, but only up to a point. I also want them to discover, in the course of looking at the photograph, that it is an imagined environment.
Elements of scale and proportion out of whack, super-saturated colors and theatrical lighting are all clues that things are not what they seem. Close inspection rewards the viewer with the evidence. The jumper in "Lover’s Leap" is suspended by a visible wire and the waves in "At Sea" are clearly made of plastic. But the obvious artificiality of the scenes does not diminish the tension created in the photographs. It is the ‘fake’ quality that enhances the enjoyment of the illusion.
The different series of work I’ve done have executed this illusion in different ways. My first series, Accidently Kansas, relies more on the idea of the tall tale, where each image seems to illustrate a story that begins, "You’ll never believe what I saw…" They maintain an innocence and optimism, despite some unfortunate situations. Later series, "Some Other Place" and "Lost" illustrates a physical and societal disconnect from the world at large. "California Forest Fire" has a tiny trailer oblivious to the growing menace raging behind it. "The City" is the current body of work and imagines a potential future where nature has reclaimed the urban landscape. "Library" shows a highly esteemed institution where books are returning to their beginnings among the trees.
It is this ability to create my own worlds that keeps me returning to the diorama. I show viewers exactly what I want, distilling the complexities of the world to what will fit into the palm of my hand.
Lori Nix (Sept 15, 2008)