Dioramas of a Darker Nature: Nicolas Levasseur’s Abandoned Miniatures

Dioramas of a Darker Nature: Nicolas Levasseur’s Abandoned Miniatures

February 10 through May 7, 2023

Dioramas of a Darker Nature: Nicolas Levasseur’s Abandoned Miniatures documents the stories, human imprint, and time’s inevitable passage left behind in vacated and long-deserted places. The exhibit includes evocative and enigmatic photographs, dioramas, and short films by artist, photographer, videographer, and urban explorer Nicolas Levasseur.

Exhibit Overview

Drawn to visual imagery from an early age, Levasseur began taking photographs of historic and abandoned sites near his hometown of Riverhead, NY in 2008. His photos from the interiors of the vacant King’s Park Psychiatric Center and other locales eventually inspired small-scale dioramas and a journey of self-instruction into the art of miniatures, including 3-D printing, laser cutting, and other techniques. As Levasseur says, “The idea of creating little worlds and telling stories, even with just a photograph, makes me excited. Abandoned places feel like they are dripping with mystery and intrigue.”

The dioramas offered Levasseur the ideal opportunity to expand on his professional videography experience and explore his abiding interest in narrative filmmaking, without the need for a full-size set or film crew. He could “have a film set right on my table.” The resulting shorts have similar depth, texture, atmosphere, and realism to anything filmed on a sound stage.

“Nicolas’s work goes beyond miniatures as an art form,” observes curator Nicole George. “It also encompasses lighting, sound, photography, and cinematography to create multiple points of entry for viewers.” The interdisciplinary nature of Levasseur’s art also straddles several active online and IRL (in real life) communities who share their experiences and knowledge — miniaturists, filmmakers, urban explorers, and recreational fear enthusiasts who enjoy and derive meaning (and often life skills) from adrenaline-fueled encounters.

The 13 dioramas in the exhibit are inspired by movies, games, and urban explorations by Levasseur and others. There are also a few “challenge” pieces — a diorama-in-a-day; a fast-build kitchen to test lighting and videography techniques; a friendly competition with another artist to make the most realistic photo from a diorama. Accompanied by photographs and QR codes for viewing their companion shorts, each multi-genre piece tells a story of making, exploring, and imagining. In addition to the comprehensive wall text, there are photos of the artist at work, a looped video of various pieces, and a gallery guide providing further details and background about each diorama.

While the short films are the final stage of Levasseur’s inquiries and explorations, much of his work centers on process and materials, technique and execution. Demystifying his methods and sharing them instigates a relationship between artist and viewer, perhaps even prompting others to pursue their passions. Says Levasseur, “I hope [the work] can help inspire others to create what their imagination is dreaming up.”

Learn more by visiting Nicolas online: InstagramWebsiteYoutube