Swiss photographers Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger recreate history’s most iconic photos with absurdly intricate dioramas. It’s incredibly satisfying to examine the attention to detail they put into the waves of Loch Ness, the billowing smoke clouds of the Hindenburg zeppelin explosion, and the snow caps of Mount Everest made from common craft supplies like cotton, paper, and epoxy.
They’re both completely obsessed with what makes a photo iconic, working together since 2005 to painstakingly recreate pictures like Tank Man and Nosferatu’s long-fingered shadow. A single set can take as long as three months and occupy the entirety of their Zurich studio. The recreation of the environmentally disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill below was about five feet wide and 23 feet deep. After photographing every detail of their sets the artists destroy them. Their new book, DOUBLE TAKE: The World’s Most Iconic Photographs Meticulously Re-created in Miniature preserves their latest creations.
Despite all the effort to make the dioramas believable, Cortis and Sonderegger playfully shatter the illusion by including their workshop and tools in the frame. Their work is fun to look at, like most good miniature art, but they often choose pictures—the Twin Towers on 9/11, JFK’s assassination, the 2004 tsunami—that carry the baggage of national trauma. Their whole practice is a statement on how much we rely on these images to understand the world, and how easy it is to fabricate them. They mostly abstain from Photoshop, preferring to pull off the mirage with their hands.
Check out exclusive images from Cortis and Sonderegger ‘s new book below.
Watch: This Artist Recreates His Nightmares with Photography
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.