Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Historic Salem Re-Photography Class Photo of 2014

There  was drama from beginning to end.  Getting desks and chairs and setting them up outside Old Town Hall.  Getting  bunch of parking tickets at 8:23 a.m. (OK, I admit I am posting this in part to provide a link to it -- so I can prove to the Parking Hearing Officer that my entire class was downtown to set up this photo. I am hoping s/he will have mercy on me and my promise to protest or pay all the tickets!)  Getting wet on the rainy, slushy way to and from our site to take a photo to enter into a contest for first year seminar class pictures.  Since our class was on The City: History, Memory and Imagination, I think we did OK.







                                                                                                                                                         
                                                         There was help and community along the way.  An associate provost asking the local community school to lend us their furniture.  Staff at the school helping us move the desks, giving my students a lesson on alternative education models at the same time.  The students finding the whole thing weird but amusing and generally being the pretty amazing people they are.

And this is, thanks to my friend Sam Perkins who worked his photoshop magic, a really really really good example of re-photography, where you stage a scene at the same location and from the same aspect as a historic picture and then you mash them together.  My students loved meeting the awesome Kylie Sullivan of Salem Main Streets.  They were fascinated that Market Square, where the weekly farmer's market is held for more than half the year, has been in some way or another, a market space for centuries.  They wanted to dress up in historic costume, but I couldn't score enough of those.  So, it seemed like the perfect location to use re-photography to show how the past meets the present in the cityscape.  And it was.

It is hard to do stuff like this.  It takes planning, organization and more goodwill than you can imagine streaming in from all directions.  I think it is why it is one of the things I am happiest about this semester in terms of my teaching.  It is the thing we will remember.


4 comments:

  1. I don't think you did just ok, you did fantastic! That's a really great photo! I appreciate hearing a little about the history of the square and all the effort that went into creating it, too. Sorry you had to deal with parking tickets. :(
    -Eppu

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    1. thank you! It was pretty fun and so far the only other class pic entries I've heard of are pretty pedestrian by comparison!!!!!

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  2. Aaand I just came across this link: http://maryrobinette.tumblr.com/post/103486670860/archiemcphee-we-love-it-when-people-find It contains glimpses of artist Halley Docherty's project combining Google Street View images with historical paintings of London in a very similar vein to your class project.
    Would you mind sharing how you came up with the idea, and maybe a little more on how your students responded to the finished photo?

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    1. Hey, I came up with the idea from a re-photography project in Derry, Northern Ireland (not New Hampshire!) that I had come across last summer and wrote about here: http://www.theflickeringlamp.org/2014/06/the-city-revisited-re-photographic.html. When I couldn't find costumes do to the whole back in time thing, I started thinking a mashup might work. I couldn't have done it without my friend Sam's help. The students were pretty floored --- I think they actually realized that it was worth the hassle already while we were staging the picture and they were having fun…but the final product got them excited!

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