‘The Dolls House’ is a new series of video, drawing and sculptural work from Claudia Hart, inspired by her media ballet ‘The Dolls’ which is based in the philosophical idea of the “eternal return” – the notion that history endlessly renews itself through a process of decadence, decay and rebirth. To embody this, Hart has molded mathematical cycles into visual form, creating rhythmic, animations of pulsing patterns which are physically mesmerizing and intentionally hypnotic as a result of their algorithmic qualities.
Hart imagines an abstract computer warehouse filled with old dollhouses culled from the junk heap of some future history. She scoured Google’s 3D Warehouse – available as shareware for all users of Internet – for architectural monuments from a decadent history, past empires from all over the world. These include The Arch of Labna (a Mesoamerican archaeological site and ceremonial center of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization), the Roman Forum-of-Ceasar, Marie-Antoinette’s Le Petit Trianon (the small chateau on the grounds of Louis XIV’s Versaille, where she dressed as a milkmaid with her ladies-in-waiting), a Queen Anne House from Victorian England; the Dragomir Mansion from Bucharest; and the Paulwall House – still standing in our own ruined Detroit.
Like her doll houses, Hart’s 3D modelled tutus are also drawn from the scion of a fallen empire: the gowns of Margaret Theresa of Spain, among the last of the Spanish Habsburgs. This child princess was the central figure in the famous painting Las Meninas, a canonical masterpiece by the great 17th-century court painter, Diego Velazquez, and the subject of many of his paintings. Hart’s Velazquez princess dresses are modeled by computer and produced as mixed-media works on paper with projection mapping, and 3D printed sculpture for the exhibition.
Hart’s brightly colored, algorithmic flickering patterns are the ultimate component of her contemplation on the passage of time and the death of kings. The animated patterns are based on the symbols of further collapsed empires – from the Faberge eggs of The House of Romanov to the banners and heraldry of Gengis Kahn and the Mongol Empire. Distributed among these are the current logos and graphical icons of our own multinationals corporations. The end result is in some ways like a stroll through Times Square or a glitzy night in Vegas. But it is also paradoxically and strangely quite trance inducing and meditative, a vehicle for some kind of enlightenment.