Thursday, October 30, 2008

It ain't heavy, it's my dollhouse: adventures with my Kaleidoscope House

The Kaleidoscope House by Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelright


Have you ever had an idea that was so compelling that you knew you absolutely had to follow through with it, even though it would require great feats of Herculean strength? Well that is what this trimester of school has been about for me. First all the overly detailed and repetitive folding and gluing for "Horror Vacui," then my presentation video, which I compiled with the horribly bug-ridden Windows Movie Maker (since I can't afford a Mac right now), and finally the whole adventure of transporting a 28" x 24" x 22" plastic behemoth of a dollhouse to school and back. But I knew I had to do it.

Last year, I was taking another art history class where we had the option of doing a presentation or writing a paper. And I chose to do a paper on Cindy Sherman because I think her work is a lot of fun. While I was at libraries gathering my sources, I kept finding books about Laurie Simmons right next to the ones about Cindy Sherman. And I thought, "Laurie Simmons? Didn't she design my Kaleidoscope House?" I flipped through to the color photos. And there it was, my most prized possession (other than my engagement ring) : the designer dollhouse I scored back in 2001 on eBay for the low, low price of $50. (Plus another $50 for shipping, I think.) Wouldn't it be great if I could do a presentation and bring it in to show the class?

I suppose I was inspired by one of my art history professors who would always show us examples of the actual artifacts we were studying in class. African Dogon masks? He'd show it to us. Arrowheads found on the school grounds by unsuspecting maintenance men? He had a collection of them. He made our classroom a hands-on museum. It enhanced the lecture. I wanted to give my audience the same kind of experience.

Well it was too late. I had already committed to the Cindy Sherman paper, and had to finish what I'd started by that point. But I vowed to myself that if I ever got the chance I would do a presentation on Laurie Simmons and bring the Kaleidoscope House to class so everyone could see it. I had no idea what that would entail.

Isn't it funny how you never realize how big, cumbersome and heavy your possessions are until you try to move them? I thought that packing my house in the big box that my chair from Urban Outfitters came in would make my life easier. I was wrong. It did not. I tried cutting holes in the sides to make it easy to carry. This only led to torn cardboard and frustration. It was an arduous task. I ended up having to borrow my parents' minivan once I considered the size of the box I had. There was no way it would easily fit into a car door or on the backseat. It was probably too big for the trunk. I did not want to find out the hard way. And then when I got to school--not as early as I'd planned--I got there right when everyone else was also on their way to a 7:30 class.

But it all worked out in the end. I am grateful to everyone in my building and at my school who helped me get my house safely there and back. It was difficult, but it was also an adventure. And I will remember this for a long time. So this is the reason why I haven't posted anything on here this week, or gone on Entrecard or made my rounds of the blogs I read every day. I have been too busy nit-picking every frame of my video, yelling at Windows Movie Maker for freezing in the middle of editing sessions, converting files on Zamzar, and straining my biceps by lugging a big box around. I was simply too tired to blog.

Below you can view the fruit of my labor: a video about Laurie Simmons, the amazing artist who designed my treasured little piece of un-real estate with architect Peter Wheelwright.


Oh, and for fans of The Doll Project, this video has a sequence that features it. The whole presentation is about 15 minutes long, though the credits make it a little bit longer.


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