Witness Mock-Up

After completing the Deep State Swamp diorama, I returned to a project called Witness that had been incubating for some time. The basic idea was to suppose there was a witness in the mountain hills above what is happening in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The witness has pulled his car off the highway and observes a great alien ship in the distance. Before the ship, there is a roadblock on the highway below with a bunch of black and olive drab government cars. In the diorama, I would use the original music from the film via a small Bluetooth cube in the diorama and make the spaceship flash various colors via a strip of LED colored lights inside it. The lights would be controlled by the viewer of the scene using a remote-control device. Above the witness, on the same highway road higher in the mountains, a man on a motorcycle spies on the witness to the alien encounter below.

Desert Witness Diorama

In order to visualize the scene, I created a small mock-up diorama called Desert Witness in a small box top. In the diorama, an N-scale car has pulled off the road and a man stands beside the car observing a space ship far away on the desert floor. The highway gets smaller directly below him on one level and then becomes little more than a line as it passed the spaceship perhaps five miles away.

I was pleased with how Desert Witness turned out and the larger Witness diorama moved to the back burner as the Chasing Bullitt diorama took over my interest. However, work on Chasing Bullitt had momentarily stopped as I waited for the arrival of parts. I took the

But energy for the Witness project was low and I took the large UPS box containing parts for Witness to the basement and thought of other project ideas to pass the time until the parts for Chasing Bullitt arrived. Then, I considered that Witness was not about the events as much as perspective. In effect, I came to view the project as an experiment in forced-perspective more than anything else. While there is the drama of one person spying on another, the drama is secondary to the various scales in the diorama.


UPS Box Containing Parts for the Witness Diorama

With this new insight, my interest quickly returned and I brought the UPS box up from the basement and began pondering how I would complete the diorama. I realized I was using four scales on four different height levels to show distance. The closest scale to the viewer is the 1/12 scale man on the bike with the binoculars. The scale of the man spied upon below in in HO or 1/87 scale. The highway is modeled on this scale. The 1/87 scale man looks down on the next level of the diorama which is in the smaller N-scale (1/160). There are N-scale government cars and a road block below him. On the bottom level of the diorama is the flashing spaceship with Z-scale (1/220) tanks and highway next to it.

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The four layers of Witness are pieces cut from a 20” x 30” piece of foam core. The various levels are created by 10, 7, 4 and 2-inch pieces of heavy cardboard tubing. Each length supports a scale layer in the diorama. The tubes and platforms will then be pasted onto a 20” x 30” piece of foam-core board. The closest object in the diorama is the largest scale and the farthest away objects in the smallest scale. The scales decrease as the levels decrease.

An experiment in forced-perspective without using a traditional box diorama. Might distance be represented by scales and various levels in a diorama?

The Witness project moves ahead. And now, Chasing Bullitt is put on the back burner until Witness is completed.

(See Final Witness blog for the completed diorama)









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