Above you can see Nar Duell’s Pillflower World, a beautiful snow globe with large colorful flowers. When you take a closer look you see the flowers are made out of pills! Peer closer still and you can see lying inside a strangely wonderful landscape of snowy mountains, Pillflowers and abandoned bath tubs.
A platform floats high above the globe affording space shuttle type views of the gorgeously colored Pillflower World below. A red sled is parked on this platform waiting to carry adventurous avatars deep into the globe.
I popped a motion sickness pill, climbed aboard my sled and took off into cyberspace and Nar’s tumbling snowflakes. Once I landed inside the globe, I walked slowly around the snowy garden. I saw giant flowers swaying around me like carnivorous sea plants, turning their Siren heads towards me, enticing me into their petaled arms with the words ‘Touch me’. I realized then that I had taken the wrong career path long ago and could have become a pill designer. Someone somewhere designs these pretty pills, they don’t just happen after all. Imagine heading into a meeting to decide what color exlax should be?
There should be a gallery for the unsung creators of the ignored details of our lives. I once photographed the designers of Chrysler car interiors and had the rare honor of meeting the simulated-leather- car-seat -covering designer! I had not realized that someone went to work to create patterns for vinyl car seat covers until that fateful day. Our gallery of obscure designers would feature my seat cover designer alongside the drug company pill sculptors and colorers, and they could be joined by the unknown designers of shoe treads, coupon organizers and cough sweets.
Pillflower World is not Alice Through the Looking Glass but Avatar Through the Snow Globe. I found myself repeatedly thinking about Shakespeare on this visit. (Egads!) The term ‘globe’ triggers this thought, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater was a place where Elizabethans side stepped reality and entered into the ‘synthetic’ worlds of Shakespeare’s imagination. Nar Duell has in turn created a theater where we can ponder the tragi-comedy of pharmaceuticals. As I wandered around the cold, snow covered landscape I was IM’d by a Second Life friend and learned that her father had died very recently. I stood in Pillflower World with giant snowflakes spinning round my head contemplating the inevitable shuffle that no pill can prevent!
You can learn more about Pillflower World and Nar Duell at It’s a Pillflower World, afterall by Douglas Story (posted on Bettina Tizzy’s Not Possible IRL blog). I came away from Pillflower World feeling very well after seeing all those Pillflowers. (But then I am very suggestible, simply reading the instructions on pill packets makes me feel better.) Nar Duell reminds us with her Pillflower World that drugs are the magic spells of the modern world, full of promises and lurking side effects, just like a Grimms Brother’s fairy tale with a morality message.
Nar Duell is the Toronto based artist Lynne Heller.
Thanks to Bettina Tizzy’s ‘The Impossible IRL Group’ for the heads up on Pillflower World’s existence.