The main inspiration for this project came from two artist that were both doing projects involving compositing archival and recent photographs. The first was a project called Dear Photograph by Taylor Jones. Described as digital nostalgia that is a call to action. He encouraged his online community to take an old family photo and to go out into the world and find the exact location the original photographer was when the shot was taken, line up the shot by aligning with real world elements and take a new photo of the old photo super imposed. The result is charming and creates a ghost like quality and a portal into the past. Users would then submit their photos online. The framed juxtaposition of past and present is a great visual theme to describe time and history and remembrance.
The second artist was Segei Larenkov who had a series of photos called Siege in Leningrad: Now and Then which documents a tragic standoff in WW II in which 1,500,000 soldiers lost their lives. The composites showed the horrors of war next to pictures of people walking happily down the street, smiling and shopping with no noticeable awareness of what had occurred at that same location years ago. Here the power of story and a sense of historical importance tied to some periods of time. With the right lens you can see hidden truths and possibly raise awareness or create change in behaviors.
Other notable projects. Sleeveface in which people hold record sleeves and cover the front of their faces and Ze Frank’s Young Me, Now Meand Irina Werning’s Back to the Future projects which both involve reenacting and photographing past moments by matching pose, outfit and quality of the film. I want to capture the sense of wonder and the surprise of my initial reaction when I discovered the works.
Other sources of inspiration include a series of books called Images of America: Burlington and Champlain Valley Memories: The Early Years which both showcased historical photos from Burlington and the surrounding community from the mid 1850s to the present. Many of the buildings, homes, schools, and churches showcased no longer exist and whatever the cause of their disappearance; age, fire or inevitable development I felt a sense of loss by not being able to see them as they were. Having grown up in the area, I was completely absorbed in the romance of exploring the past and marveled in the significant drama that unfold when observing the passage of time.
Finally I drew inspiration from an earlier work called Room of Recollections that explored interacting with history in a 3D environment with the creation of artifacts that held stories within. The project involved creation of a room of sculptures each referencing a particular story in time. When the user picks up the virtual object an audio recording plays of my grandfather retelling stories of his life. This work informed the idea of an interactive environment to experience history in a unique way. The creation of three dimensional artifacts that act as an interface was an entry into the software and hardware needed to create interactive experiences. Defining the aesthetic for the room and creating a feeling of respect and reverence but also intrigue invite people to touch (virtually) to make the connection to the past.