- Taylor Mickle, digital photograph, 2009
Taylor Mickle’s photography is rarely precipitated by political sentiment, and the strategic juxtaposition that constitutes the Minesweeping Candydrops is intended as neither caustic nor curative: “These poor guys are over there in Afghanistan and Iraq—and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if it weren’t so deadly?’” The plastic soldier is weaponless and domestically diligent; the confectionary swatch that serves as backdrop—though not altogether benign, is not deadly.
“Sugary things make me laugh,” Mickle says, and humor is important to her endeavor—the Hostess Snowball being another industrial edible that plays into her artwork at the moment. Her other driving motivation is bringing the miniature world into visibility. Engaging with a bee that is pollinating red clover, she views her mission as raising awareness of a vaster network of animate beings. “If we look at things closely, there is a possibility for peace,” Mickle points out. She also fathoms the relevance of objects on this continuum, dolls such as GI Joe and Barbie that persist in our imaginative lives and may even infiltrate our sensory-motor functions. The connection between US foreign policy and those creepy toy soldiers warrants investigation—as do the petroleum-based foods that mutate our perceptions, “It’s crazy what we would put into our mouths,” Mickle observes.
Having grown up in Manhattan, Mickle moved to the Columbia County town of Copake two years ago. The nature studies that have lately become her obsessive project are the result of her shift in environment. Her nascent rural awareness has also generated a series depicting plastic farm animals that dwarf their keepers—a nod to Orwell, Mickle admits. Her studio is named The Lux Farm. A lux is a measure of luminance. The standardization of human brightness perception intrigues her.
She cites Irwin Allen’s late Sixties sci-fi TV series “Land of the Giants” as an inspiration for her work. In the show, commercial astronauts traverse the space-time matrix and end up on an alternate planet of giant sinister humanoids. Mickle’s work could be described as a shrewd inversion of this premise, where the micro-world that we enter humbles rather than emboldens us.