Mickey & Minnie: An Interactive Diptych
Playful, charming and cheeky are three words that capture perfectly the essence of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. These same attributes are the foundation upon which Harris’s own witty reinterpretation of the iconic duo has developed.
Harris pays homage to these two famous Disney characters by reinterpreting them through interactive means. While maintaining the greatest fidelity to their heritage, he simultaneously imposes his own modern narrative of jealousy, admiration and self-awareness: characteristics he associates with our social media-connected society.
The artwork explores an ever-evolving love story between the two protagonists, a romance that has spanned 90 years. Here, the role of the viewer is challenged as they become the antagonist within the scenes. To the frustration of Mickey and Minnie, the viewer acts as a distraction, interrupting their narrative by stealing the attention. Ultimately, the viewer becomes the third subject within these living portraits.
In this diptych Harris plays on the ambiguity in the characters’ realness and self-awareness as they interact with each other, moving seamlessly between the artwork screens. While they physically exist within the confines of their screens, and are very much aware of their constrained environment, Mickey and Minnie are equally cognisant of the viewer and the external environment about them.
This interactive engagement is pivotal to the artwork, with the viewer’s presence and touch acting as the catalyst for unique interactions that see Mickey and Minnie break the ‘fourth wall’ of their environment. This separation between the virtual and real worlds is further eroded when the viewer uses a mobile device to contact the characters, who react on screen by reading the message and responding.
"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.
Edition of 10 + 2 Artist Proofs + 2 Museum Proofs
Code, electronics, computer, 4K touch display, 3D sensor, metal
Produced with the support of the Walt Disney Company.
Dimensions in MM:
1915 (W) x 1595 (H) x 203 (D) mm
860 (W) x 1595 (H) x 203 (D) mm
Dimensions in INCHES:
75.4 (W) x 62.8 (H) x 8 (D) inches
33.8 (W) x 62.8 (H) x 8 (D) inches