Passing Shadows: Adia Millett's Photographed Miniature Interiors

8 October, 2006

Note: This post inaugurates an experiment I'm trying with the hope of assuaging the growing group of readers and friends I've heard from in horror lately as the proportion of technical content around here has grown. On each weekday, I'm going to attempt to write briefly about one artist whose work I find interesting. I'll provide relevant reproductions and links and hopefully just enough of my own take on the work to prevent the posts from deteriorating into mere pointing. If they're what you're here for, Ruby/Rails tutorials and longer essays will continue apace simultaneously. Enjoy!

millet_passing_shadows(chairs).jpg
"Passing Shadows (chairs)" 2006, 20 x 24 inches, c-print.

Thought:

Millet's work resembles the series of dollhouses constructed by millionaire heiress and master criminal investigator Frances Glessner Lee to resemble actual real life crime scenes only stripped of their narrative encrustations to reveal a gothic essence.1 There's something that miniature subjects do to the depth of field of photographs that gets me almost every time. The closeness of the camera exaggerates the distance between fore- and background so miniature interiors often seem even more immersive than would equivalent pictures of real-sized spaces. (The effect is especially noticeable with low or direct lighting.) This kind of exaggeration of space is a mainstay of the gothic aesthetic (think of The Shining and Disneyland's Haunted House) and it is a welcome relief in a photographic idiom dominated by the pseudo-narrative approach of a thousand junior Crewdsons.

Links:

mller_passing_shadows(bird_cage_room).jpg
"Passing Shadows (bird cage room)" 2006, 20 x 24 inches, c-print.

  1. Lee's work is excellently documented in photographer Corinne May Botz's book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.[]

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