artists and miniaturisation
I've just begun this section (August 2012), and it will expand as my research continues.
Mass-produced miniature objects, especially figures, allow artists to manipulate and control their subjects with total freedom to create new or distorted realities. Plastic figures can be placed in situations that are either impossible in the real world, or would be too dangerous or unethical. Relative scales can be distorted.
Artists frequently use figures manufactured to populate model railways (e.g. by Preiser) or architectural models. The figures are either used as supplied by the manufacturer, or are adjusted by the artist (e.g. the Chapman brothers). As the resulting artwork is usually so small, photography often plays an important part in communicating the artist's message.
Some artists create ephemeral artworks. Christopher Boffoli, for example, places figurines amongst foodstuffs. Slinkachu creates scenes in the street that will ultimately be destroyed by passers-by unaware of the tiny creations at their feet, or by street-sweepers. That the artwork ever existed is only evidenced by photographs taken at their moment of creation.
Sadly, perhaps, this concept is becoming rather commonplace, as the figures are readily available and most artists now possess cameras capable of fine quality close-ups. Ironically, some photographers are using tilt/shift lenses to achieve a "miniature" effect using full-scale wenvironments!
In the right-hand column, I have listed some artists who use mass-produced miniatures in their work. There are certainly more that I have yet to come across.
Other artists exploring miniaturisation
Because my research focuses on ready-made miniatures, artists who create miniature realities from scratch are beyond its scope. However their work is relevant in that it reflects the pleasure and puzzlement we experience when faced with small worlds, as well as the abilty of miniaturisation to communicate a slew of messages from artist to audience.
An example is Michael Leavitt, who, "bored" with "normal art" produces "a variety of undefinable objects that cross between art and product" that include miniature figures.
[Work in progress]