A secret is out!

Australian, The (Australia) - Wednesday, May 8, 2013 Author: JULIE HARE: JAMES McArdle wants Melburnians to follow in the footsteps of the great architectural photographer Mark Strizic, literally.  He and colleague Greg Neville have their sights set on developing an app that will allow Strizic fans to stand at the spot he took his timeless images, point their smartphones and create their own modern versions.  Dr McArdle is one of eight Deakin University researchers taking part in a novel approach to funding research: putting their projects on a crowd-funding site in the hope they catch the public's imagination enough to raise sufficient money to get the projects off the ground.

The Australian – Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Author: JULIE HARE
“JAMES McArdle wants Melburnians to follow in the footsteps of the great architectural photographer Mark Strizic, literally.
He and colleague Greg Neville have their sights set on developing an app that will allow Strizic fans to stand at the spot he took his timeless images, point their smartphones and create their own modern versions.
Dr McArdle is one of eight Deakin University researchers taking part in a novel approach to funding research: putting their projects on a crowd-funding site in the hope they catch the public’s imagination enough to raise sufficient money to get the projects off the ground…”
Photo: Stuart McEvoy

Re- photography is hot. The change in the medium to digital has made accessing archives of film and paper seem more urgent or attractive.

I have posted before about Mark Strizic, a postwar immigrant to Australia who became a top Melbourne architectural photographer. He was self-taught, his physics training having prepared him to courageously tackle a new technology. You can see his transformation into a professional by going to the State Library of Victoria website. They have in their collection his entire output; 5000+ negatives, gorgeous prints, and slides. These are available as thumbnails online and I have spent hours trawling through them, revisiting the Melbourne of my father, and of my childhood.

Greg Neville and I share this same interest, really a passion, for the work of this visionary who has left behind an unmatched record of Melbourne’s Modernist transformation. Strizic documented the innovations of its prominent architects certainly, but you can also see the change in culture at work on the streets and the people in his images as the Victorian era is swept aside by Whelan the Wrecker to be replaced by some quite beautiful, and many quite ugly, modernist buildings, (like the ‘Green Latrine‘, the Former Commonwealth Building)!

Greg suggested he’d like to undertake a repeat photography project of Strizic’s work, shooting it from exactly the same angle, even with the same camera, and on film. True to his word, he has done some test shots.

Russell Street looking north toward Police Headquarters  1960s, and at right, 2013

Mark Strizic left-hand-side, Russell Street looking north toward Police Headquarters 1960s, and by Greg Neville at right, 2013

Seeing these, I agreed this was an exciting venture, but enormous, and it occurred to me that we might tap the phenomenon of ‘the crowd’ to realise this ambition.

Hence http://www.pozible.com/project/22875 – rephotography, as practiced by the doyen of the genre, Mark Klett, is precision work beyond the capabilities of the ‘person on the street’. But these are the very people who might do it best, out of their love of the city.

Melburnians jealously defend their city as the ‘most live-able’; a cultured grande dame with a creative dash, anti-establishment street art, a larrikin love of football and lots of delicious secrets. All of us have memorable, favourite or significant places here; we are embedded in the city, and it in us. So why not invite the ‘person on the street’ to join this ambitious project, to contribute photographs?

Mobile device camera app - taking screen showing Strizic transparent 'template' overlay

Mobile device camera app – taking screen showing Strizic transparent ‘template’ overlay

To enable them, I have conceived a mobile photography app which will allow them to stand in the shoes of Mark Strizic, to see as he did, and to use his images as a template for their own. That way we will be able to generate not just accurate retakes of the buildings Strizic photographed, and the sites of those that have vanished, but we will also generate a visual demographic of our city. It would be crowd photographing the crowd, just as Strizic loved to photograph the pedestrian traffic – his street photography and theirs will have much to reveal about who is the contemporary Melbournite, and whom they have replaced.

The app will be crowd-funded by pledges to http://www.pozible.com/project/22875

Mark Strizic, 1950s, from the (‘Old’) Melbourne GPO steps; still a popular meeting place and mass observation point

Greg Neville: The Bourke Street Mall 2013, after Mark Strizic, 1950s

Greg Neville: The Bourke Street Mall 2013, after Mark Strizic, 1950s

 

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One response to “A secret is out!

  1. Pingback: The Australian photograph | Greg Neville's photography blog·

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