Abstract research phd in arts in animation Leuven University / LUCA School of Arts Brussels
Alexandra Crouwers
Promotor: Wendy Morris


Through that which is seen: Dioramas and the Appeal of the Unreal

A diorama is a simulation of a real world environment, or of a fictional scene. The research is focused on the affect of immersive, life sized dioramas. I’ll try to understand what they do, why they work, and how they – though lifeless – are moving anyway.

The rise of digital technology has brought us a new kind of diorama: the computer or mobile device screen. Virtual reality, computer games and augmented reality are the new, immaterial homes for dioramas. The research compares dioramas to screens, but also looks into how dioramas relate to contemporary and historical art works.

In the research, the diorama is a carrier for thoughts and artworks on illusions, immersive architecture, artificial nature, frames, and theatrics. I’m stretching the tension between fake and fact to the mysterious appeal of the realm of conspiracy theories and fake news. Another investigation concerns the emotive qualities of ‘dead things’, including automata, animatronics, and artificial intelligence.

Keywords: suspension of disbelief, the fourth wall, simulated environments, affect, epistemology of the diorama

Research page at LUCA (in Dutch).