California Casual, MDF diorama with archival pigment print siding, foam core cutouts, 2017
Dioramas never quite pull off the illusion of realism. Depending on institutional budget, they can be downright hokey. More often than not, stiff figures, static surrounds, and unnatural lighting flatten the visual experience of what is intended to be an immersive or educational moment. But poor execution has its charms. Here, two nameless creatures are tucked into abstracted surrounds reminiscent of midcentury suburbia. Decked out in flame-proof insulation, plastic, and rubber, they stagger forward, one extending a limp, friendly hand. Anthropomorphic shag rugs and primordial vegetation flesh out the scene, creating a three-dimensional window into a surrealist California fantasy.