The Walt Disney Company approached Harris with the opportunity to work with their extensive back catalogue, bringing their classic characters into the new age of digital art.
Turning his attention to Disney's first full-length animated feature, Harris created an eight-piece artwork encapsulating Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (2015). The artworks offer a unique opportunity to interact with each distinct character, removing them from their collective setting and allowing for engagement with signature personality traits.
Entering the realm of neo-Pop, Harris reinterprets the original hand-drawn designs and presents Snow White and the dwarfs in a reflective metallic colour-block aesthetic which acts as a mirror to the viewer. The relationship between the viewer and characters is formed through mirrored gestural interaction and complex inter-character narratives, whereby their singular traits act as catalysts to unique sequences of events between the characters themselves.
Harris' work combines aspects of film and cinema with fine art which is wholly evident in his Mickey & Minnie: An Interactive Diptych (2018). The artwork itself, loaded with symbolism, is an homage to the iconic characters and explores the ever-evolving love story between the two protagonists, a romance that has spanned 90 years.
As Mickey and Minnie journey across cities and into space, Harris brings an awareness to their incredible reputation which transcends all generations. The duo are the ultimate icons of pop culture.
Harris has since become the only digital artist exhibiting in museums and exhibitions who is permitted to use Disney's classic characters, a feat that is not lost on him: "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."
"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.