Roxy Paine's Life-Size Model of a Fast-Food Joint, Made Entirely of Wood

KYLE VANHEMERT, WIRED, February 28, 2014

New York-based artist Roxy Paine created a space race-era control room and a fast food restaurant made entirely of wood.


For Apparatus, a recent exhibition at the Kavi Gupta gallery in Chicago, the New York-based artist Roxy Paine created two striking dioramas.


ARTISTS HAVE TRIED all sorts of strategies to get us to think more critically about the systems and spaces that govern the modern world. Roxy Paine's approach was to carve them out of wood.

For Apparatus, a recent exhibition at the Kavi Gupta gallery in Chicago, the New York-based artist created two striking dioramas--one of a space race-era control room, the other of a fast food restaurant--both made entirely of birch and maple.

Set into the gallery's walls, the pieces call to mind the scenes of prehistoric flora and fauna you'd find at a natural history museum. And they're no less detailed. In Carcass, we see all the familiar trappings of the fast food industry. There are hanging monitors, straw dispensers, and a delicate wooden deep fry basket. On the walls, wooden sheets of paper are held up by wooden push pins. There's even a carefully curled wooden Post-It note.


Control Room is a sort of dreamlike distillation of all different sorts of knob-strewn command centers, borrowing elements from air-traffic control rooms, power plants, and recording studios. Paine calls it a "catalog of different operating and monitoring mechanisms," a "library of control, or semblance of control."

For Paine, the replicas serve as "translations from one visual language to another."


"I am interested in dioramas as a manifestation of the lens that one generation viewed the universe through," he explains. "I am interested in the shifting nature of 'absolute' truths through time; how one generation's absolute can become the next's anecdotal footnote."

Of course, while these dioramas capture two distinctly contemporary environments, they're also in some sense faithful reproductions of spatial anachronisms. With incredible advances in technology and a mounting backlash towards fast food as we've known it in decades past, both of these scenes are, at some point or another, bound for extinction. And indeed, according to Paine, the haziness about their existence is deliberate. "They are a memory that is to be," he says. "Or a memory of a memory."

of 1353