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7 Frames, 1 Story

by Su-Jin Yim
photos by Stephanie Yao
September 17th 2004
Portland Oregonian

Crouched on the floor of her North Portland studio, Vladimir carefully picks up her 1960's-era, 16mm movie camera from its silver case.

She presses a button and - kerchunk - the camera takes its first frame.

The satisfying sound is the first step toward a new Vladmaster by Vladimir, a 26-year-old artist and University of Oregon grad who renamed herself in highschool.

Almost two years ago, Vladimir grabbed a View-Master and thought, "I can make this." Now she creates her own handmade View-Master-style discs with pictures of cockroaches, children's figurines and playing cards stitched together into individual story lines.

In April, she won the 2004 World Champion of Experimental Film award at the PDX Fest, a film festival held in Portland, for the story of a cockroach who ventures from behind a refrigerator to explore an apartment. At the performance, a narrator read the text while a soundtrack played and 380 audience members held View-Masters up to their faces and clicked.

Vladimir grew up in Corvallis, the only daughter of an OSU professor and a library employee, feeding a lifelong love of toys and making small model buildings out of paper, she says.

"Atari is one of my favorite art forms," Vladimir says. "I like the video games where you could still see the pixels. It's so magical."

The cockroach series remains at Portland's Blackfish Gallery all month. Vladimir, who will teach a workshop on Sunday on how to make your own View-Master wheels, is also part of a show in Seattle on the same day. . .

You can buy Vladimir's work at www.vladmaster.com, but the real fun is participating in a group show. Where else could you experience the rumble of hundreds of View-Masters clicking simultaneously?

For those shows, Vladimir provides the View-Masters, which she finds regularly at thrift shops and garage sales.

"It's very fun, the sound of 380 View-Masters clicking at the same time," Vladimir says. "Everybody gets really into it, responding and laughing at the same time."