My mother's Viewmaster and reels from childhood
Yesterday afternoon I was in the dining area working on something while listening to my son play away. I never have to worry about him except when something crashes or it's really quiet. I noticed the clanking of toys had ceased and after a few minutes I went over to investigate only to find my son, head cocked upwards toward the window, looking through his lightweight plastic blue viewmaster (probably at his Thomas the Train reel).
The sight of him in that other world instantly took me back to my childhood..I loved looking through the canister of viewmaster reels that I shared with my sister. Back then we didn't have VCR/DVD players so that was as close as I could get to watching my favorite fairy tales (Cinderella, Snow White, etc.). The "boring" Kings Canyon and Yellowstone reels were quickly jammed into the top and then ripped out, but even they had a wonderfully strange appeal to them that I couldn't take my eyes off of. I recall trying to slip paper and other items into the top of my red and white viewer trying to get Sleeping Beauty to move or Prince Charming to somehow crawl out of the camera. I wished there was a way I could get inside that colorful world..
still from the movie Amelie
Years later in college I enrolled in an Image and Idea class (Photography) where we had the entire semester to work on one project.While thinking about what I wanted to create, I thought about misconceptions, particularly those made by children. The idea was inspired by a scene in my favorite movie (Amelie) where a little girl's neighbor gets into a car accident right in front of her while she is taking pictures. He gets out the car and blames her and her camera for having caused the accident even though she had nothing to do with it. The rest of the day she is racked with the guilt of having caused any and all accidents she sees on the news. This reminded me of how as children we don't usually see or understand things as they really are...which can be both sad and funny.
For my project I collected similar stories from family, friends, classmates and did my best to illustrate each story with one photograph. I then took each photograph and story and rephotographed them using slide film ,cutting each tiny frame out and gluing them into several viewmaster reels. It was a tedious assignment but so rewarding. Unfortunately all of my images are saved on zip and cant be opened since I used an early version of Photoshop :(
I decided to check out the view master website which I hadn't visited since this project. I was pretty excited to see that not only can purchase the kits to make your own reels but that they sell lense attachments for digital cameras so you can shoot in 3D (both would have come in handy several years ago). Naturally this started stirring up ideas in my head ~I'd like to get a lens attachment for sure. What a great alternative way to record vacations, events, everyday life and make these for my son to enjoy an pass down to his kids or to give to other family members with children. Maybe even create 3D images with my dolls...hmm:) I'm beginning to see where my recent interest in 3D scenes and animation comes from.
Maybe I am a sentamentalist, or still a child at heart. It's nice to be reminded that a simple thing from the past can bring us adults back into a world of childlike imagination~
image from the Portland Documentary and eXperimental Film Festival c.PDX Festival