Using Film to Teach and Talk About the Past
I have launched a new as an extension of my research into American memorial practice. I am a historian (at Rutgers University), and I have been using film for the past year, or so, to document public memorial across the country. Quite apart from my love of film photography, this project made sense. Film, and particularly black and white film is not only an artifact of the past (although I do believe it continues to be a viable and vital technology today), but it is also the archetypal medium of memory. Our mental images of the last 150 years are shaped by film photography. In most people's minds, the Civil War appears in an image out of Alexander Gardiner's Photographic Sketch Book; we visualize the Vietnam War through the viewfinder of Dickie Chappelle and Larry Burrows. So it mades sense for me to interrogate memory with film, the medium of our visual historical memories.
The website is The Memorial Project. It contains -- or will contain -- much of the photographic content, and critical analysis that I hope to bring together in a book. And I invite you to drop by and tell me what you think. I will write up something for the site on equipment and film, but I use Minolta SLRs (XD-11, X-700, XE-7, and SRT-202 in the main rotation), a range of Minolta Rokkor lenses (mostly a 58mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.7, and a 45mm f/2) and my trusty Tamron SP 35-80,, f/2.8. Film is mostly Ilford Delta 400 and HP5+ at box speed, developed with Ilford DD-X.
Two pictures from the latest entry appear below:
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