On Miniature – The Life in Smallness as Shown by Lia Purpura

In her essay On Miniatures, Lia Purpura explores the various answers to the question why are miniature things so compelling? She clarifies early that by “miniature” she means any workable things on a very small scale. Among the various qualities that make miniatures compelling, Purpura includes these: miniatures are mysterious; they offer a different scale by which to measure ourselves; they are self-standing, complete entities; they are ambitious, practical, and intimate; and they encourage attention.

The author then relates an interesting experiment in which scientists at the University of Tennessee found that imagining oneself in a miniature spatial frame has the effect of time elongation, or a subjective sense of time slowing down with increasingly smaller space.

Lia Purpura ends her discussion of miniatures with the interesting conclusion that miniatures are self-sufficient; they don’t need us, and this independence in all their smallness is what draws us to them, like the attraction between a passionate lover and a distant beloved.

Her essay is a decent reminder that in our own capacities as artists in any culture, we carve our own place in it regardless of how small our exposure. In our smallness, we can be uniquely valuable. And that we don’t have to look to the bigger scene and imagine us there; though t won’t be a sin to let our imagination wander there. But just don’t let it freeze there. Because that is where the soul of the artist dies a slow death.

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