I couldn’t be happier to drag Mike M. back into the spotlight for the second time in a week here on the Manifesto. Mike’s topic is typically gloomy, but his latest diorama pushes the envelope into the macabre, which is defined by Webster as “involving death or violence in a way that is strange, frightening, or unpleasant“. I’d say this build qualifies as strange, frightening and unpleasant but just like a car-wreck, it is almost impossible to look away.
The tilted camera-angle is the perfect technique to add to the tension of the scene. Both the lighting and the focus of the shot are excellent as well. The expression on the figure’s face is really an interesting choice, in fact the face looks a little happy or relieved to me, which adds way more interest than a frowning or agonized face. Initially I thought it looked like Velma from Scooby Doo, but upon further reflection I’m not as convinced.
Suicide is a dicey subject matter to engage with, especially when your medium of choice is a children’s toy, but I think Mike handled it by elevating his building and presentation to a point where it doesn’t come across as salacious or frivolous manner. It takes some courage to post a build like this when you’re likely to offend or put off a portion of your audience from the jump. I’m talking about the LEGO cultists who want everything to be shiny, happy and rated G for general audiences. This build is among Mike’s best work and a great piece of single-image storytelling. Also, there isn’t a masonry masonry profile brick in sight. I wonder what it would look like if the builder switched the floor design and the wall design. I’m not sure it would have improved things dramatically but I remain curious.
The flowers floating in the toilette bowl is probably my favorite detail, but I love the way all of the accessories carefully strewn around the scene tell a story that leads up to the horrible act. Just because I can be a picky bastard I kind of wish Mike had included a shower curtain, because to me a shower-head and a shower curtain kind of go together, but in no way does it take away from the build. Bravo Mike, you really hit the mark with a challenging subject matter, even the title is perfect.
I can only recall one other model with the same subject matter that was worth a damn and it also had a great title: “The Note“. The builder is Brian Rinker, and the scene is sheer perfection. Most people use minifigs when they address suicide and the results are typically underwhelming. This diorama doesn’t feature any figures at all and the result becomes almost overwhelming. When I first looked at this photo I was too focused on the french doors and yard beyond to notice the noose. There is a great depth of field going on here and it is very effective in dividing the viewer’s attention. Just like Mike’s bathroom scene, all the surrounding details combine nicely to tell a story. The build is complex in technique but subtle in it’s treatment of the theme and with over 21k views I’d say a more than a few people agree.