On July 23 in Casting Call, I offered up the idea of the dioramist as collector of stuff … a type of hoarder in his/her own way. In my case, I finally decided to sort all the diorama materials I had collected over the months from places like Michaels and model shops and antique stores and wood shops. I bought a lot of shoe boxes from Michaels and organized all my diorama materials into the boxes. I had a box for figures. One for trees. One for roads. A large box for diorama cars of all sizes.
The blog comes to envision a type of “casting call” made by me or Midnight Oil Studios for various figures and objects inside the shoeboxes organized in my office. The post ends with one of my favorite quotes from Joseph Conrad in the Preface of his late book The Rescue. The quote seems appropriate to the situation. Then, a follow-up to this idea to Casting Call in the next blog after it titled Hiring Freeze. This particular scene envisions some type of insurrection amongst the figures and things in the boxes around our office. It was the early stages of planning this diorama and we had a lot of questions and weren’t sure if the idea would develop into a full-blown diorama scene. In the course of the past week since the original idea for Hiring Freeze, a lot has happened.
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We went to visit a magical place in Canada called Niagara-on-the-Lake (the key wine growing region of Canada). We went on a wonderful wine tour and met an 85-year-old German man who still works at the winery his family founded in Germany which he located to this location. His vineyards are on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, thirty miles across the lake from Toronto. I first saw him driving the tractor through his vineyard, pruning or doing something. He waived to all of us on our wine tour from the hotel. We were all standing on the little mound area raised above his vineyards where we could see them spread out in all directions before us. Later, I met him and shook his hand inside his winery as we toured the spotless facilities only a German. A surprising number of different grapes from his vineyards. We bought a few bottles of wine from his wonderful vineyards. I’m drinking one of the wines now as I write this inside my office at Midnight Oil Studios.
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As we were up north enjoying the vineyards and the magical little town, the insurrection situation with the actors and diorama pieces at Midnight Oil Studios had only gotten worse. When I arrived back in the studio after Canada, there was a lot of notes on my desk and messages on my iPhone I had refused to look at for a few days. I don’t do this much but it was nice to get away from communication and the studio for a few days.
Things were not going well with the figures and objects Midnight Oil uses in its dioramas. Many of them, perhaps the more important ones, were organizing some type of protest in front of our studios. A number of various unions were involved as well as the powerful Diorama Car Association, representing all cars used in dioramas. There were talks between my top management and various representatives for their various unions and associations. Unfortunately, not agreement was reached. We were forced to implement a hiring freeze as a result of their various demands. Of course, there were protests from various groups of our employees when we issued our hiring freeze.
The Break in the Studio Fence
One of the major events to happen has been the breaking of the big fence we have surrounding the studios. I suspect one of our Super Hero characters did this but can’t be sure. Anyway, the break in the fence allowed in a group of various protestors, representing various groups of our employees, to easily come to an area directly in front of the studio. I can’t even guess how many cars came through the break in the fence. They gathered around the Association for Diorama Car Dealers make-shift building, once inside the fence. It almost looked like some colony of ants following a sugar trail.
Headquarters for the Diorama Car Association
And, looking over the entire scene, my faithful guard Max stands by the open door into our studio below the Hiring Freeze sign. (With our incredible Moonrise Over the Mountains in the studio Max almost seems to be guarding this image inside the studio.
On the outside of the studio walls (made of corrugated aluminum) are posters of past Midnight Oil Studio dioramas that can be viewed on various posts on this website. There is our Last Dinosaur, Green Giant Pea Spill and Deep State Swamp on the various posters.
Our Guard Max at the Studio’s Open Door
You can’t see it in this photo, but there is a bottle of wine next to the wall of the studio below Max above. Has Max been drinking? On the curb of the sidewalk below Max there sits one of the “little people” in HO or 1/87 scale in the overall diorama representation of various scales. Perhaps the medium of a coming together of various scales might be more important than any arguments in particular scales? The diorama is a mixture of various scale models all brought together by a protest. The prevalent (audience viewpoint scale for the diorama) is Max at approximately 1/12 scale. All the others in the diorama are considerably smaller, except for the three super heroes in Studio Protest. So, the scene we are confronted with when we get back from Canada is a scene dominated by the 1/12 scale of Max and the studio. But also having O-gauge scale, HO-scale, N-scale and Z-scale actors within it. They all exist together from the various cars to the figures in the scene. The characters in the scene resemble the great dichotomies in our America’s culture wars today. In the form of a humorous diorama.
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The mixture of scales in the scene, though, have other effects. More subliminal effects. By mixing scales the modeler throws a visual image at the viewer that demands immediate attention as things stand out like sore thumbs in this mixture of scales. For scales are (in fact) their own individual “mediums” or “environments.” Their own worlds so to speak. As viewers/readers we are used to watching one medium at a time. One scale at a time. Here, entire scales (mediums, environments, worlds) are mixed together. The dramatic mixture between scales is much greater than the dramatic mixture possible within scales (of diorama models).
Using different scales within a scene requests “participation” from the viewer of the scene to see a particular vision I attempt here to help the reader to understand this vision. Everyday pop culture is a bounce-back type of raquette-ball-room where the ball never leaves the particular box it is batted around in. Here, though, a perspective of an attempt to leave this box of one scale and present a number of scales in a type of (mad) protest confrontation. The studio executive (me) is addressing all of this in my office at the studio.
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One of the major efforts of this particular diorama is really inside the (purposefully left open) door into the studio. Why would anyone do this? Midnight OIl Studios places Max next to this open door into the studio. I don’t think many would consider getting past Max and into the studio. Why not simply have a closed door here rather than an open door? Is it perhaps because the studio wants viewers to see what is going on inside the studios? For those followers of Midnight Oil, used in the scene inside the open door of the studio is “Moonrise Over Mountains” in the Blackout post.
One observation is that the scene inside the studio is a nature scene rather than a scene containing characters. A (subtextual?) question might arise from this: Does the image inside Midnight Oil Studios suggest a movement away from characters and to simply nature scenes? Perhaps this is behind the hiring freeze?
Diorama Little People. A Powerful Group in Midnight Oil Studio Protests
This idea seems to be the real first idea regarding this project.
The project was really started as an attempt to create a box diorama view inside the open door of Midnight Oil Studios. The open door was to serve as the “viewing window” of a box diorama. This was the first concern influencing this diorama.
I played around with various things. A great monster body bound up inside the studio. I would light this with colored crepe paper over the LED light I bought on Amazon.
The illusions or magic inside the open door into the studio was an early, essential concern in creating this diorama scene. In effect, I was attempting to present a box diorama illusion through the open door. This was much more of a concern in the early stages of the project than anything else.
Everything always comes back to the image “Moonrise Over Mountains” from my previous post above. This seemed to me like the only appropriate activity inside Midnight Oil Studios that should be revealed to the general viewer/audience public.
Members of the Diorama Cars Association – Like A Colony of Ants Following a Sugar Trail
So, I post some photos of the current situation at Midnight Oil Studios in this Studio Protest post. It is not a pretty sight out there right now and it impossible for me to come out of the studios and address all the voices out there right now. Best just to post all of this in this blog.
Our studio is full of (infested with) powerful unions that demand outrageous amounts of money for their diorama members to appear. It’s perhaps best our studio considers all the latest options as we sit here, trying to figure out what to do.
In all of this, the image of the old German winemaker in Canada comes to mind. My art is contained within these posts. But art of the old German is contained in the vineyards he has created. Right now, his art seems a lot better than my art or whatever this is.
The Old German’s Vineyards
Max just came into my office and told me I need to go out and address our protesting employees.
One more glass of the German’s wine, and then, I’m going outside to speak to them.