Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

When writing about purchasing a dollhouse for her goddaughter, D mentioned The Overlook Hotel, which, I swear, is the reason my mind came up with Frances Lee Glessner and Corinne May Botz. I am neither morose nor morbid by nature.
... photographer Corinne May Botz explores a collection of eighteen crime scene models that were built in the 1940's and 50's by a progressive criminologist Frances Glessner Lee (1878 – 1962). The crime scene models, which were based on actual homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, were created to train detectives to assess visual evidence. Like a forensic detective herself, Botz meticulously re-traces Lee’s footsteps with her camera and lights. Her large-scale color photographs shrewdly frame the idiosyncratic and haunting details from these captivating murder scene dollhouses. Such noir fiction shuttles between the detective photography of Weegee and the dollhouse narrative photography by Laurie Simmons to explore the dark side of domestic life.

D writes: The photos here demonstrate how the dioramas of gruesome unexplained deaths draw you in, that the lighting and shadows, the colors and positions of the small bodies in a perfectly reproduced little room provide the viewer with an omnipresence. You are there as a witness to the crime, and seek clues around the devasted scene, trying to solve the mystery that is displayed by the artist. Even with dolls, and displayed in miniature, the giant You-the-Viewer shudders.

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