These Abandoned Places Have A Secret, But You'll Have To Look Closer

Beauty at the end of the world?

Brooklyn-based artist Lori Nix has a very unique gift when it comes to creating worlds. As a diorama maker, she is able to bring the places and landscapes that she envisions to hyperrealistic life in miniature. 

Her dioramas do not, however, feature saccharine scenes of mundane domesticity. Instead, they offer a deliciously macabre glimpse of disaster, horror, and apocalyptic serenity. It's a morbid and dark beauty.

Her recent creative endeavor The Citynow available in a gorgeous book – embodies that aesthetic perfectly. Of The City, she writes that she has "imagined a city of our future, where something either natural or as the result of mankind, has emptied the city of it's human inhabitants."

Take a look for yourself.

All of her dioramas are assembled in her Brooklyn living room.

"Beauty Shop."
"Beauty Shop." Lori Nix

"I create photographs that depict our failing future and the demise of humanity," she writes, "though I temper it with subtle humor."

"Great Hall."
"Great Hall." Lori Nix

Each diorama can take months to make and photograph.

"Aquarium." Lori Nix

She describes the pain-staking process on her website:

"It takes approximately seven months to build and photograph a scene. I build it for one angle of view and never move my camera from that spot. I will change the lighting, the placement of the objects and re-shoot until I'm fully satisfied with the results. I shoot with an 8x10 large format camera and film. I print my own photographs quite large. "

The final result, however, is worth it:

"When I've been working on a scene for five months, living with it and staring at it every day, I just want to hurry up and finish the scene. But I know adding the final details will make it sing in the end. It seems like time just drags when I'm putting on the final touches."

Her dioramas are built almost entirely by hand, though sometimes she will build around a single element.

"Majestic." Lori Nix

"There is usually one element I do not feel like creating, such as the piano in "Majestic," Nix says. "I found the piano and then scaled the rest of the scene around it. The size of the piano determined the size of the diorama."

The dioramas are made of extruded foam, plaster, cardboard, glue, and paint. Details, such as weathering and dirt, are added by her partner Kathleen Gerber, a trained glass artist. "She can paint faux finishes and gild architectural details with gold leaf," Nix says. "After I'm done building the structure and painting it, she comes in and adds dirt and distresses the walls to make it look old and decrepit."

She describes her vision for "The City:" "Art museums, Broadway theaters, laundromats and bars no longer function..."

"Circulation Desk."
"Circulation Desk." Lori Nix

Describing her childhood, Nix writes,

"I was born in a small town in western Kansas, and each passing season brought it's own drama, from winter snow storms, spring floods and tornados to summer insect infestations and drought. Whereas most adults viewed these seasonal disruptions with angst, for a child it was considered euphoric. Downed trees, mud, even grass fires brought excitement to daily, mundane life."

It has clearly influenced her work...

"The walls are deteriorating, the ceilings are falling in, the structures barely stand, yet Mother Nature is slowly taking them over. "

"Mall." Lori Nix

"The City postulates what it would be like to live in a city that is post man-kind, where man has left his mark by the architecture, but mother nature is taking back these spaces."

"Library." Lori Nix

"I am fascinated, maybe even a little obsessed, with the idea of the apocalypse," she writes.

"Subway." Lori Nix

Describing her inspiration, Nix says, "I usually get my ideas during the morning commute on the subway ride between Brooklyn and Manhattan. It has to be a combination of still being slightly asleep, the light that hits me when we come out of the tunnel and go over the Manhattan Bridge, and trying to maintain my sense of space while riding in a packed subway car."

"The overall theme to The City is that something catastrophic has happened to mankind."

"Natural History."
"Natural History." Lori Nix

"I don't know if it's viral, nuclear, or a meteor hit earth and decimated the population," she writes, adding, "This is for the viewer to decide."

"All that's left of mankind is the cultural and economic spaces we once inhabited. "

"Map Room."
"Map Room." Lori Nix

"Now these are falling into disrepair, and they're being overtaken by the native flora and fauna."

"Botanic Garden."
"Botanic Garden." Lori Nix

"Life still goes on, just not yours or mine. "

"Laundromat." Lori Nix

"I just want the viewer to consider their place in the world of today and their impact upon the planet."

Nix continues, discussing the message embedded in The City. "I do not define what has taken place in my photographs. I do not know if it is climate change, nuclear meltdown, annihilation by war or something more unseen such as a super virus."

"Anatomy Classroom."
"Anatomy Classroom." Lori Nix

"I want the viewer to think about their actions and how they may impact the future of humanity and civilization."

"Fountain." Lori Nix

For more of Lori Nix's incredible photographs and dioramas, please visit her website. For a signed copy of her book The City, please visit Decode Books.