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Deep State Swamp

Deep State Swamp

In March of this year, I created the first Drain the Swamp diorama for the monthly theme contest of the IPMS (International Plastic Modeler’s Society) chapter in Columbus. The challenge was to model something on a 4″ x 4″ square. I created a little FBI Building and a number of layers of “swamp” below it with all sorts of stuff in the swamp. I then posted a Drain the Swamp Blog.

The model garnered a nice little piece in the March/April 2018 IPMS Journal.

This seemed the end of the matter for the drain the swamp diorama.

About a month ago, I found a  great piece of wood in the scrap wood bin at the amazing WoodWerks Supply in Columbus and knew I had to use it for something. I wasn’t sure what it would be though. It sat in my studio for a few weeks as other projects were completed.

Then, I came across a site that posted a free paper cut-out of the FBI Building in 1/2000 scale.

I downloaded the incrediblly detailed FBI Building from the Wurlington Bros. Press site, pulled the piece of wood from WoodWerks out and soon a new diorama was underway. I masked and spray-painted the top of my piece of wood with Olivine from Krylon Natural Stone. This time, I created swamp water using Light Green Lichen and Realistic Water from Woodland Scenics. Before pouring in the water material, I painted the swamp bottom Light Avocado from DecoArt Americana and placed some prehistoric creatures from SafariLand Miniatures in the swamp.

The background was from storm wallpaper downloaded from the Internet and projected onto our 32′ HP Omen screen. Light for the photo consisted of two Softech Natural Smart LED Lamps above on both sides on “Bedtime Setting” of 2500-3300 Temperature color and two LitraTorches on 800 Lumen Settings with White Diffusers on Joby Gorilla stands placed on both sides in the front of the diorama.

One of the most noticeable differences from the Drain the Swamp diorama is the incredible depth of the new diorama. Given the small requirements of the IPMS theme, the swamp in the Drain the Swamp diorama was only an inch deep. However, the bottom of the swamp in the second diorama is four inches from the top. The new model of the FBI building is an inch tall so the swamp bottom is four times its height. Since the real FBI Building in DC is 160 feet tall, the depth of the scale swamp is 640′ scale feet. So deep that even a prehistoric bird is seen flying near the cliffs of the swamp!

Given the great depth of the swamp in the second diorama (as well as the constant use of the phrase “deep state”) it seemed a good name for this diorama was Deep State Swamp.

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I felt good about being able to combine two of the most said phrases today (“the deep state” and “drain the swamp”) into a type of symbol expressed from a combination of both their names and symbols into an image of the Deep State Swamp (DSS). I found that once I could give some type of name to my diorama, the image followed (as Henry Miller would say) with dead certainty. I was glad I came up with a different name for this diorama instead of simply calling it something like  “Drain the Swamp II.”

The DSS diorama was truly different and not made under the restrictions of a modeling contest. It was outwardly about a swamp but it was really about the concept of depth. As McLuhan might say, it was a matter of medium over message, context over content. The dictates of scale are maintained in the DSS diorama whereas they are played with in Drain the Swamp that the diorama is not taken seriously. With DSS we had a 1/2000 scale building to work with and an incredible piece of weathered, gnarled wood.





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