Imagine a snowglobe, preserving a scene from a fantastical winter wonderland. But instead of a landscape filled with snow, the globe features a scene from your time spent gaming on your old console as a child. Wit Olszewski’s second-long animated dioramas are carefully captured snapshots of nostalgia crafted into 3-D mini-worlds.
Olszewski is a 3-D generalist and motion designer based in Wroclaw, Poland with an extensive background in the creative industries, including photography and film. He has a passion for miniature landscapes and epoxy resin dioramas but never felt patient enough to create physical ones and turned them into a digital medium instead. His mini-worlds mostly feature natural landscapes like lakes and landscapes recreated from video games. Whether it depicts a bright sunny day, a street during snowfall, or a stormy sea, they are imbued with a sense of calm and animated so that they give the viewer the feeling that the story they’re watching has no end. Olszewski has written that: “If you saw them [his mini-worlds], felt warm and fuzzy and recalled the most beautiful moments from your childhood- then I did my work well.”
If Olszewski’s work were to be interpreted, warm and fuzzy feelings certainly come across. One of the first mini-worlds Olszewski put up on his social media is titled “The Island.” This and other of his mini-worlds are dioramas, which strive to capture a moment in time. They have been preceded by similar mediums like the panorama and are a form of active storytelling as they usually involve some type of movement. Olszewski's work differs in that it is a diorama made digital, created in 3-D and animated with programmes like Cinema4D and Redshift. “The Island” doesn’t tell a narrative in a traditional way. There is no beginning, middle and there certainly is no end. Every other element in the piece capitalises upon this. The movement flows forward like the waves it depicts, smoothly, and on a loop. This island has a relaxed, quotidian feel to it. It has palm trees, a harbour and a small boat docked to it. The subject of this piece is something you’d see in the real world but the warm colours and absence of any hard corners imbue it with the idyllic pleasantness that characterises Olszewski’s unique style. Time isn’t a concern. Rather than simply tell a story or several stories in his mini-worlds, Olszewski makes something that gives the viewer a lot of freedom to interpret and what matters most is the feeling his scenes stir in the viewer.
One such feeling that Olszewski’s work evokes is nostalgia, which is a major element in his work. He was an avid gamer as a child and continues to be one to this day, considering his gaming-inspired artwork to be a tribute to these games. “Heroes of Might and Magic 3 Waterwheel” is one of these. Originally rendered in pixel art and made more realistic with every new rendition of the game, the waterwheel is an adventure map structure that is a constant fixture in every game of this series, which is among Olszewski’s favourite games. Like “The Island,” warm colours abound; greens, browns, faint oranges, a few dark blues. Arguably, there isn’t really a direct message to be taken from this piece, but a feeling. A very strong feeling of nostalgia, joy, and appreciation for this game, evident in the details of the mini world and how Olszewski interpreted and made the waterwheel from his childhood his.
Of all of Olszewski’s mini-worlds, it can be said that it is his incredibly detailed “Snowy Winter Night” that resembles a snow globe the most, literally and thematically. In it he captures some of what he says are the most beautiful aspects of winter for him: snowball fights, snow slowly wafting down to the ground, homes decorated with bright lights, people walking home. The colour palette of this piece is cool, but there is light everywhere, from the lit windows in buildings to cars’ headlights on the pavement of the streets. If you’ve ever wondered what life inside the mini world of a glass snowball feels like, Olszewski delivers and mesmerizes with “Snowy Winter Night.” This is an experience in itself, by mentally strolling around the streets in this mini world, the viewer is fully immersed. But Olszewski goes further than just presenting a scene. He has said that with each piece he always wants to take his audience on a journey to a different place. “Snowy Winter Night”’s almost thirty seconds exude calmness and by tapping into people’s nostalgia, his work may easily remind viewers of good memories and transport them to similar snowy winter nights in their own lives.
Wit Olszewski takes pleasure in creating mini-worlds, and walking around in them is a delightful experience. It’s all about the beautiful moments, nostalgia, and the feelings recalled in the viewer. Olszewski’s mini-worlds are open for interpretation, and like the video game worlds he loves, open for exploring.
Follow Wit at @witolszewski