We are more likely to glean an idea of the universe by creating infinitesimal objects than by remaking the whole sky.
Sculptor Alberto Giacometti put it like this: in order to grasp the truth and give it tangible form, he often ended up reducing the scale of what was around him. It must be said, shrunken objects have profoundly revealing qualities: from childhood, we manipulate small cars, little men and bricks, creating miniature empires that we can dominate, putting us on a par with an adult, perhaps even a giant. This aspiration does not always end after we’ve grown up; indeed, it can sometimes turn into total dedication to the most eccentric endeavours. This was the case of Edwin Lutyens, who in the 1920s meticulously designed a dolls’ house for Queen Mary, equipping it with teeny tiny objects, all perfectly functional, created by the most famous artists and craftsmen of the day.
Simon Garfield moves through time and space to discover a microcosm populated by collectors, model-makers and diehard enthusiasts. He celebrates its punctiliousness and obsession, investigates the origin of this universe, and manages to find unlikely worlds in the eye of a needle. Prepare to meet incredibly skillful circus fleas, microscopic Lilliputian city dwellers, a lady from Chicago who reconstructs crime scenes the size of a nutshell, and the Chapman brothers’ army of thousands of tiny Hitlers. We should not forget, the miniature intersects with the world of art, broadening the perception of what our mind already believes it knows to give us deep, enlightening insights into the full-scale world around us.