Monday, September 25, 2017
ELGIN PARK: Visual Memories of Midcentury America at 1/24th scale
I am a huge fan of miniatures and I was aware of Michael Paul Smith's work through his Flickr gallery and references online. This book combines wickedly creative jaw-dropping camera perspective tricks and fiddles to thoroughly fool the eye.
Comment after comment in the book and on his website says 'Come on, these are REAL aren't they'?! Most miniature and diorama work can be distinguished easily; something just looks a little bit off. Very rarely, the eye really is fooled into having to LOOK for that 'one little thing that isn't quite right'. These pictures, and I mean -every single one of them- is so perfect that when the camera angle is shifted to show the scale models as models, it's the out of place hand or plywood base in the shot that looks out of place. The cover is a good example. It's a scene out of 'The attack of the 50 foot tall man! (in 3D)'. The cars are real, the house is real, the man looks photoshopped in!
I will always be in awe of Michael Paul Smith's utter mastery of perspective and his model building expertise is mind-blowing. I have friends who are professional architects and they're in awe of his structure modeling too.
If the artist were only a gifted miniaturist, that might get old after a while. That's just not the case here. The photos have a definite narrative. They resonate. It's easy to set myself in the scene and imagine what the people in the house would be doing or how the Dr. would spend his scant weekend free time. The use of light and photography filters is virtuoso. He's a wizard and I fervently hope we continue to be allowed to enjoy his magic for many years to come.
Five supernova stars!
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.