Sadly, they don’t list the criteria for the best dioramas. Why, for instance, is “Peepman and BoyPeep” a finalist, when my favorite, “Reservoir Peeps” is a semifinalist? Is it the concept? The execution, so to speak? The freshness of the Easter candy?
We may never know how the secret cabal of judges awarded the grand prize. An enterprising soul, however, could easily turn this slideshow into a personality quiz. Which diorama do you like best? What does it reveal about your personality? For my money, it’s “Reservoir Peeps” and “Mommie Peepest,” two entries that I find far more compelling than the winner “Peeps are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Not that I have anything against Marilyn Monroe or the artistic verve that went into the piece. The other two, however, capitalize on a twofold appeal: first, there’s an obvious gesture toward the pop culture references and the necessity of a certain amount of cultural capital to “get” the joke (basically, it’s an ego thing, I admit it); second, and more indicative of my personal and theoretical inclinations, is the study in contrasts. The artists play upon the nature of the Peep, their sweet, empty innocence, their nostalgic appeal hearkening back toward childhood. They attach all of that to two of the most disturbing psychodramas of the last 30 years: Reservoir Dogs and Mommie Dearest.
Now, it would be quite a stretch to think about these dioramas as fitting into something like Adorno’s theory of negation in art (which we touched upon in the theory class yesterday). And in addition, we can be pretty positive that Adorno would have no affection for the lowly Peep. But in a radically dumbed down version of a negative dialectic, it would be interesting to play with the idea of the Reservoir Peeps diorama as a piece of art that refuses to resolve and justify the existence of the individual and the progress of history. How can a Peep exist in a Tarantino world? Where is all of that sweetness and light when someone’s ear is being removed? Is it enough to say that “it’s hard out there for a Peep?”
In a move that’s far less out on a limb, I hope that someone is tracking the ways that major print publications (the WaPo, the New Yorker) are coming up with ways to make their publications interactive via the internet. In what ways do these “outreach” programs activate their current readership and/or new ones?