Catalogue /

The God & Titans, and the Dioramas of the Divine

Atlas, Zeus and Poseidon

Dioramas of the Divine is a series of abstracted, interactive landscapes inspired by Greek mythology. The triptych creates a unified vision of awe and power, which is divided into three distinct scenes seen from the perspectives of the gods Zeus and Poseidon and the mighty titan Atlas.Dominic Harris weaves a beguiling narrative that relates ancient beliefs to today’s society. As viewers immerse themselves in the world of the gods, they reflect on their own responsibilities to the natural world and the impact of their actions.


Diorama of the Divine: Poseidon

In Poseidon the viewer stands before a watery scene, a colossal coastal cavern of ancient rock, with strata formed over millennia and dripping with stalactites.

As the viewer approaches the artwork, the water reacts turbulently to their presence. Gradually, the waters begin to advance, the water line rising ever higher and a subaqueon world emerges: a pod of dolphins swims amid a shoal of smaller fish. In controlling the tide with movement, the viewer adopts some of the mythical powers of Poseidon himself.

Remnants of a lost city are discernible in the shadows, with its hypothesised design centred around circles of land and water, banded by enduring metals. The gold ring signifies divine symmetry and balance in nature and acts as an oculus between two worlds. It responds to the touch of the viewer and, when rotated, it controls the time of day. At the right time, Poseidon’s trident appears.

God & Titans: Poseidon

Dominic Harris’s depiction of Poseidon captures the duality of the god’s nature, as he alternates between maintaining iconic poses and revealing more relaxed moments. The trident, a symbol of his dominion over the seas, represents his power and authority, while his casual demeanour humanises the god and brings him closer to the viewer.

In a contemporary context, Poseidon’s shifting persona can be seen as a reflection of the complex and multifaceted identities that people often navigate. Today, individuals are expected to fulfil various roles and responsibilities in their personal and professional lives, which may require them to adapt their behaviour accordingly. Harris’s portrayal of Poseidon encourages the viewer to consider the demands of maintaining these different personas.

The moments where Poseidon lets his guard down can be interpreted as a reminder of the vulnerability that lies beneath the surface of even the most powerful individuals. In today’s competitive world, people are often pressured to project an image of success and strength, sometimes at the cost of their well-being. By depicting Poseidon in weaker moments, Harris invites viewers to recognise the importance of acknowledging and embracing their own weaknesses, as well as those of others.


Diorama of the Divine: Zeus

In this scene the artist presents the viewer with an all-encompassing landscape belonging to Zeus, god of the sky, thunder and lightning, and justice. It captures the viewpoint of a god overseeing both the heavens and the seas with humanity caught in a solitary plane of existence in between, subject to the whims of the gods.

The heavens are defined by vapours, with the viewer fleetingly visible within. As an omnipotent participant, explorer and author of the piece, the viewer is gifted with an amplified awareness of natural forces, allowing them to manipulate the expanse before them.

The seemingly floating lake has a mirror-like surface that reflects the vast and intricately depicted sky. The tranquillity of the water’s surface is subject to the whims of the viewer. When they touch the water surface, the might of Zeus’s thunderbolt is unleashed, briefly illuminating the entire diorama in a powerful, pure white light. In the depths of the ocean, the viewer can see relics of a lost city, an Atlantis of sorts, now transformed into a habitat for a myriad of sea life. A crumbling Gothic arch hints at the inevitable demise of every civilisation.

God & Titans: Zeus

Harris’s immaculate rendering of this god includes observations that hint at a more menacing reality. While he encourages the viewer to empathise with the god’s complex emotions and decisions, Harris also draws parallels with the choices and dilemmas faced by those in positions of leadership today.

Within Harris’s depiction of Zeus holding the lightning bolt, he also reveals moments of distraction: as the animated actions unravel we have glimpses of Zeus’s stray thoughts, idle carelessness and even boredom. While power can lead to technological advancements, social progress and diplomatic efforts, it can also lead to corruption, conflict and inequality. Zeus serves as a reminder that power should always be exercised wisely, compassionately and with a commitment to justice.


Diorama of the Divine: Atlas

Perceived from a great height, the canvas opens on to a broad expanse, a rolling landscape of indeterminate scale. Rays of sunlight penetrate the clouds of vapour, momentarily touching the ground with god-like tendrils, and sending light and shadow across the sphere.

The viewer’s motion directed to the sky creates a billowing vortex of cloud or leaves wisps of gently trailing mist. The scene subtly transitions from day to night. An indigo sky, defined by encircling constellations, comets and celestial bodies, revolves overhead and spins gently round its central axis, gradually gravitating towards the surface.

The challenge is to maintain the elevation of the stars and prevent a collision between heaven and earth, which would annihilate the civilisations below. Occasional stars fall but can be caught and returned to their spatial realm. As the viewer experiences this impossible burden and the continual struggle to hold up the heavens, an understanding dawns: they sit at the centre of these heavens and must bear this unfathomable weight.

God & Titans: Atlas

In his portrayal of Atlas, Harris explores the symbolism of the titan’s burden. Atlas, known for holding the heavens away from the earth, is often depicted carrying the globe, signifying the immense weight he bears.

By humanising Atlas and conveying his struggle, Harris encourages viewers to empathise with the titan’s plight, reflecting on their own lives and the burdens they carry on a daily basis. This could be the stresses of work, family life and maintaining relationships, or even the emotional toll of living in an increasingly connected yet divided world.

Harris’s interpretation of Atlas also alludes to the broader societal issues that impact us collectively. We see him impatiently tapping his feet or looking at his wrist as if to tell the time. In a world grappling with climate change, political strife and social inequality, the burden of Atlas can be seen as a symbol of our shared responsibility to address these pressing issues.

"Collaboration came first [in the relationship with Disney]. They had seen the Ruffled artworks and I think they were amused, and impressed at how I made the birds come alive. The birds are playful, charming and silly but they also display their own unique, individual characteristics. So Disney said that every now and then they like to allow artists to work directly with Disney’s property and the reference they gave me was actually Hirst’s Mickey and Minnie spot painting. And, basically, was I interested.

So it was an easy one to answer. I was absolutely delighted at the prospect of doing this. And by then I had created two pieces for them, using their characters, which are obviously the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Mickey and Minnie artworks. And in doing so, I have become the only digital artist exhibiting in museums and exhibitions who is allowed to use Disney’s classic characters. And it’s something I take very seriously; I’m actually delighted with it.

I feel it is very important to treat the characters with the utmost fidelity and I believe that my role as the artist is to respect where the characters come from but then to redefine them in a new story, a new narrative: something that pays homage to the incredible talent of Walt Disney who created these characters almost a century ago, but which also portrays a new storyline.

If you take the Mickey and Minnie artwork, it is absolutely loaded with symbolism. And part of that was a response to the fact that Mickey and Minnie are unique characters within the Disney family because they are permitted to recognise the world around them. Mickey and Minnie can understand the difference between London and New York. In the way they’re depicted in the films that Disney produced Mickey can even role-play, he can put on a costume, so there’s something incredibly liberating about these characters
." - Dominic Harris

Extract from interview with Dominic Harris by Simon Quintero.