Cabinets of Wonder – Diorama – Martin on the Dancefloor (just about anywhere in the world)

This diorama is simple. It’s a view into what it’s like to be me, Martin, on the dancefloor. As you peep into the dance hall (aka the box), you see the lights flash and flicker upon the festive crowd with one giant dancer (me–I’m 6’6″) in the middle floor.

Just like dancing this piece can be performed alone or with others, but either way, you’ll need a smartphone (preferred) or flashlight.

The preferred experience is my preferred experience, which is done alone. To view this piece properly, you’ll need to point the flashlight above the hole in the top of the box. With the other hand, spin the spinner (wood piece) on the top of the box… all while looking through the hole in the side of the box.

While the intended effect is best achieved by the chaotic movements of trying to aim the smartphone phone flashlight at the small hole in the top of the box, it is possible for multiple users wishing to work together to take turns—one person looking and another working the light and the spinner.

Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Spinning the Strobe
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Spinning the Strobe

I thought about adding sound to the dance hall, but really liked the idea of keeping everything low-tech. I will say that I am VERY happy with the fact the spinner and the (mostly) hollow box come together to make a very loud somewhat rhythmic sound.

I bought 1:25 and 1:50-scale figurines (which are about 1″ and 1.5″, respectively) for the dancers. (There are between 125 and 150 dancers on the dancefloor.) When they arrived in the mail, I found I had a problem. The figurines don’t stand  up by themselves. I tried using super glue gel to get them to stay up, that would have been a nightmare.

Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Building the Dance Hall Dancefloor
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Building the Dance Hall Dancefloor

Fortunately, there’s a good craft store a couple blocks away. I went looking for foam, but the sales clerk there suggested I try stone clay for the dancefloor, which worked really well. (Though it took way, way longer than an amateur might expect to form a large, flat square.)

Here’re some behind the scenes shots of how I made the dance hall:

Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Inside View of Dance Hall
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Inside View of Dance Hall
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Top View of Box with Spinner
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Top View of Box with Spinner
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Open View of Dance Hall Box
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Open View of Dance Hall Box
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Spinner Mechanism
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Spinner Mechanism

To finish it off, I lined the inside of the dancehall with black construction paper; rain prevented me from spray painting it, but I’m happy with the result. I also added a light beam against the far back all to help provide contrast for the dancers’ silhouettes.

Here’s the finished diorama:

Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Inside View of Finished Dance Hall - Shot A
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Inside View of Finished Dance Hall – Shot A
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Inside View of Finished Dance Hall - Shot B
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Inside View of Finished Dance Hall – Shot B
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Through the Peephole - Shot A
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Through the Peephole – Shot A
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama - Through the Peephole - Shot B
Cabinets of Wonder Diorama – Through the Peephole – Shot B

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