bioephemera

Hostilities under glass

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Courier
mixed media, 2007
Thomas Doyle

Thomas Doyle’s miniature sculptures are dead ringers for the moldering houses and threatening forests of HP Lovecraft’s Arkham. Each 1:43 scale vignette is like a scene from a horror film – if horror films were staged in the lovingly crafted O-scale countryside of a miniature railroad diorama!

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Acceptable losses
mixed media, 2008
Thomas Doyle

I discovered Doyle’s work via party like an art star, the blog of art gallery manager Chloe Gallagher. As Gallagher notes, the tiny scale of Doyle’s pieces draws you intimately in, while the glass domes act as a safety net, insulating you from the full emotional impact of each disturbing vignette. You can look, but you can’t touch. Meanwhile, some decidedly sinister events are unfolding – murders, burials, revenge: you can read almost any motives into these cryptic scenes, an infinity of possible preludes and epilogues. They remind me powerfully of Frances Glessner Lee’s “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” which were designed to help novice investigators learn the art of crime scene observation and interpretation.

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The Reprisal
mixed media, 2006
Thomas Doyle

Part of the effectiveness of these scenes is clearly the human component. It would have been easy for Doyle to leave humans out entirely – the displaced houses alone are sinister enough, and without inhabitants, the scenes would seem as realistic as tiltshift photos of real places.

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Escalation
mixed media, 2008
Thomas Doyle

But the tiny human figures, reacting to their incomprehensible surroundings with ambiguous body language and expressions too crude to convey much of anything, are both powerless and poignant. Under their glass domes, they’re like insects in a terrarium, and we are curious voyeurs complicit in their entrapment and confusion. This is both fascinating and beyond creepy.

More:
Doyle’s site
A great writeup at party like an art star

Comments

  1. #1 Stacy Mason
    February 8, 2009

    Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz do similar things with snow-globes.
    http://www.martin-munoz.com/recent/index07.html

  2. #2 Comrade PhysioProf
    February 8, 2009

    How cool!

  3. #3 Joe Leasure
    February 10, 2009

    What a eloquent review. I agree, the glass enclosures certainly enhance this work. They seem to reflect a theme of isolation, detachment throughout the pieces.

  4. #4 floatingrunner
    February 14, 2009

    wow.. so detailed!!

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