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Monday, 8.16.04: the dollhouse

So the ANXIETY project is just about over. Only a few details left. I took a lickin' but I'm still tickin.' I'm a fish flopping on the bottom of a rowboat. A car gunning its engine in a snowdrift. All energy, no forward motion. I keep sitting here at the computer trying to launch myself into another creative orbit, but instead I have backed up files, removed old versions of programs, and defragged my hard drives.

Finally forcing myself to step out of my studio, we went to the Strong Museum yesterday afternoon. It has morphed itself from a history-oriented doll and Americana museum to an interactive children's playground. We felt a little out of place, but then we found the old dollhouses. A dollhouse pulls me right into its universe. If I stare at it long enough I see its residents and then they start telling me their stories.

I vaguely remember having a dollhouse when I was little -- the traditional two-story kind passed down from my cousin. Someone repainted it for me, but I don't recall it very vividly. Later, one of my sisters had a more modern dollhouse, made of metal. One or the other of them had no stairs connected the floors -- or maybe it was no doors between rooms -- either way, I was disturbed. If the inhabitants had to move around by crossing out of their world into mine -- ugh! The illusion was ruined.

What I really loved were the dollhouses at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Colleen Moore's doll house was an extravaganza of miniatures, everything perfect. Equally intriguing were the additional exhibits of perfect dollhouse rooms that lined the walls -- tiny and alive.

Later last night we watched "The Making of Kill Bill Volume 2." Quentin Tarantino defended his choice to make two movies when one might have done fine. The first one, he claimed, established the mythology -- the world that the Bride lived in. When the more evolved story was told in Volume 2, you were supposed to appreciate it better because you had all the context established in Volume 1. It was Tarantino's dollhouse and he clearly relished creating every aspect of this self-enclosed universe.

So, I'm thinking to myself, while I'm no Quentin Tarantino, our ANXIETY film did create a little universe. Maria's home became the dollhouse for my characters. We put words in their mouths, we lit them up, we moved them around. Now the television screen is like that glass wall on those tiny rooms at the Museum of Science & Industry -- it contains our fabricated universe. Cool.

No wonder I'm tired.



See Colleen Moore's dollhouse.

Rochester's Strong Museum




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