28 August 2010

On time travel

This has got little to do with teaching, for once. It is just extraordinary. Enjoy the technical stuff if you like (I do), but scroll down and watch the video. This is a test of Kodak colour movie film. From 1922.

As the linked article comments, it is like time travel; there is something about its immediacy which can't be accounted for by its obvious features. The colour process (two, rather than three colours were used), and the necessity for two lenses must have contributed to the soft focus effect and the translucency of the models' skin, but even so there is something very special about this glimpse of almost 90 years ago.

Some years ago some compilations of the Second World War in colour were shown on TV; there is a trailer and some extracts below:

We are used to seeing such material on the TV news in colour every day, and of course very familiar with the black and white images, and reconstructions in colour. And yet once again it is all so different when it is real and contemporary and yet in colour. The black and white versions and the reconstructions all serve to remind us that we are watching a completed story. Somehow the colour transports us back to when it was not clear how it would work out--rather like listening to the reminiscences of Battle of Britain pilots on the radio a week or two ago.

I'm sure the phenomenologists had a word for it!

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