My latest edition of Archival News is available here. One of the most interesting projects I stumbled upon this time around was Yale’s Photogrammar, a web-based tool for organizing, searching, and visualizing the images produced between 1935-1945 as part of the Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) photographic project. The Photogrammar platform gives you the ability to search the images by photographer. It also offers an interactive map that lets you gather geographical information about 90,000 photographs in the collection.
The Photogrammar project was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Directed by Laura Wexler, the project was undertaken by Yale’s Public Humanities Program and its Photographic Memory Workshop. You can learn more about the genesis of the project and its technical challenges here and here.
In other interesting archival news, over 1,300 videos from the collections of the Scottish Screen Archive at the National Library of Scotland are now searchable through the European Film Gateway. [Above: Arthur Rothstein, 1939. New Madrid, Missouri]
For the last month or so, I have been developing a new blog for the University of Aberdeen’s George Washington Wilson Centre for Visual Culture. I am a member of the Centre and its Associate Director; I will also be making occasional contributions to the GWW blog. I just posted my first piece, “Object Lessons,” which reflects on the recent cancellation of Exhibit B at the Barbican in London.
For the purposes of studying what he calls “staging,” Steven Soderburgh has released a black-and-white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981). He has also removed the film’s original sound/dialogue and replaced it with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s soundtrack to the Social Network (Fincher 2010). He writes:
I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount.
Soderburgh describes this project as a process that simplifies the image, strips it down. The assumption here is that black-and-white images and contingent sound allow viewers to concentrate their minds (on staging…). However, there’s nothing all that simple about this audio-visual concoction, which brings the tools of silent cinema together with the golden age of the Hollywood blockbuster and the sounds of its collapse in the era of social media.
The Ithaca Silent Cinema community celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the famed Stewart Bridge trolley crash, staged for the Prince of India (Wharton Brothers, 1914). More information on Ithaca’s history in silent cinema can be found here. And if you are wondering whatever happened to the Wharton Brothers’ films: check the bottom of Cayuga Lake.
Scottish artist Sam Spreckley experiments with “surface and immersive sound.” The whole thing is worth a watch, but the first fifteen seconds are magic:
More of Spreckley’s work can be found here and a recent interview is here.
Passed along by one of my students: a former communist film archive in Cluj, Romania becomes a celluloid playground.