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The Reel World

by Susan Beal
April/May 2006

Remember the View-Master? Vladimir, a Portland-based artist, likes the old-school picture shows so much, she's elevated them to avant garde cinema. The 28-year-old has created five handmade movies - called Vladmasters - that pair painstakingly-photographed dioramas with dramatic plotlines mined from sources like Greek mythology and Kafka. "I try to tell my stories in such a way that the moment of turning to the next photo becomes one of anticipation," says the crafty filmmaker.

At interactive screenings up and down the West Coast and in England, Vladimir welcomes hundreds of spectators with plastic viewers and a series of her paper reels. Prompted by a live soundtrack, the audience clicks in unison as the story unfolds. Though she discovered the childhood toy late in life (she bought her first View-Master in college), Vladimir says it fast became a fixation: "I was absolutely captivated by its haiku-like absurdity." Lowbrow art has never looked cooler.