WC81 – Review of Vladimir’s Vladmaster

By Vladimir
Reviewed by Bo Young

There aren’t many artists working in the View-Master™ medium, but Vladimir does. As it happens, I visited the Museum of Jurassic Technology last time I was in Los Angeles.  Well worth a trip just for a visit to that magical place. One of the MJT’s more cunning souvenirs is a View-Master™ collection of discs showing four of the exhibits that were there at the time (and may well still be.) So I fortunately happened to have a View-Master™ handy when I discovered Vladmaster. It is possible to buy a View-Master™ at Vladimir’s website, along with other stories she tells in the medium, but when I found the art, the View-Master™ wasn’t offered.

Vladimir, an artist living in Portland Oregon, makes Vladmasters. Vladmasters are handmade View-Master™ reels designed, photographed, and hand-assembled by Vladimir. She makes use of toys, neglected household objects, and odd ephemera to tell 28-picture, 3-D tales of missing earth-moving industrial equipment, disastrous dinner parties, and overly adventurous cockroaches, to name a few.

Vladmaster performances are simultaneous Vladmaster experiences in which every attendee needs a viewer and set of discs and then led through the story by a soundtrack featuring music, narration, sound effects, and ding noises to cue the change from image to image. If you don’t happen to be the lucky person with the lone View-Master™ in the room at your eyes, you can enjoy the accompanying light show that displays on the computer screen. But how fun would it be for everyone in your household to have their own View-Master™?

Bottom line, there is just something charming — a little queer, if you will — about the medium and the message. And isn’t it time someone brought back the View-Master™? Me…I’m a soon-to-be 60-year old, about to move to the wilds of upstate New York, so a View-Master™ seems like just the thing for snowed in winter evening entertainment. And I showed it to my hipster-cool, 20-something nieces and the general comments were in the area of “This guy’s good!” (20-somethings call everyone “guy”).

The Vladmaster I received was The Public Life of Jeremiah Barnes, the above-referenced story of missing heavy earth-moving equipment told in miniature toy medium. Other titles include Franz Kafka Parables, Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities, Lucifugia Thigmotaxis, Actaeon At Home, and Fear & Trembling. Collect them all! Just $20. View-Master™ $5.00 extra + $3.00 shipping. Viewers are ONLY for sale with the purchase of a Vladmaster set. I say: Spring for it.  Visit www.vladmaster.com

Bo Young is White Crane’s publisher.  He lives in Upstate New York.

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