Thursday Salute to Originals: Honey I Shrunk the Lifeguard

Are we controlled by our surroundings? Scale can impact the way we interact with objects, people, and space in nearly every regard. Imagine how different a workday would be if you were forced to type away at a humongous laptop or faced with making a presentation to a table full of giants. The relationship of size can certainly influence productivity and perception in daily life, but when taken into fantasy landscapes, scale can have even broader impact on social relationships and autonomy.

French photographer and filmmaker Muriel Bordier plays on cultural concepts by creating digital collages that look a bit like dystopian fantasies (or utopian, depending on how you look at it). Small figures are swallowed up by their oversized fictional settings, navigating space with robotic expressions and poses. The result is a bit “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” mixed with The Sims video game characters.


Even though her work is self-described as having no singular intent or meaning, Bordier’s commentary on how humans relate to the built environment shows how scale can manipulate the actions of groups and individuals. “In my photographs, I try to cast an amused and satirical eye on the world. I choose elements that are part of our collective memory, our society’s cultural codes, objects, monuments, landscapes, people. I juxtapose, stage and photograph these elements, playing on the difference the image generates and the spectator’s representation. There is no master plan, I don’t tell the spectator what to think; I simply provide an elaborate composition that allows the eye to travel, create its own hierarchy of aspects, and awaken perception.” And for that, we give our Thursday Original Salute!

How is your perception awakened upon examining a Bordier piece? Perhaps as a designer, you’re reminded of the ability to alter the behavior of individuals and crowds simply through the scale of space. Just don’t forget that we are designing for unpredictable human nature, not tightly controlled computer characters!

Image credits: Muriel Bordier, Design Boom