My final project is supposed to be housed in a website – but it isn’t working properly. It was working fine on my pc in Firefox, but is not working in Chrome on Macs, so I’m just adding it as a blog post. That means that the last paragraph of this Artist’s Statement won’t make sense, but it will give you an idea of how the project was intended to be experienced. There is supposed to be a grid of 6 blocks – one contains the title of the website and instructions to click an image, the other five blocks contain images. If you click on an image it takes you to another page which will play the video.
This project combines two elements of our Digital Cinema class:
- Visual Evidence with interviews
- Database video
My parents were born and raised in two different villages near the city of Derby which was an industrial center in the middle of England. Derby was the home of Rolls Royce which was building engines used in several types of fighter planes and, as such, was a target of aerial bombing by the Germans during World War II.
Mom and Dad were young children during this period and have frequently told me about their experiences during the war and their perspectives on these events as children. They had to carry gas masks everywhere they went, they were bombed at home and at school, and they had to take shelter in bomb shelters during air raids. They were fortunate in that they did not have to evacuate their homes the way many children in London did, their homes were not damaged or destroyed, and they did not lose any family members in any bombing raids.
This project is really a work in progress. I have included interviews regarding air raids at school and at home, gas masks, Italian POWs, and candy rationing. A more complete project would include collecting unexploded bombs after air raids, German POWs, Polish RAF pilots, the arrival of the Americans, D-Day, rationing in general, Victory gardens, and conditions after the war.
There are five interviews with my parents and these are supplemented with visual evidence in the form of archival footage and family photos. Some of the archival footage appears to be from newsreels (e.g. “Rationing in Britain”) and some appears to be material prepared by the British government (e.g. “Italian POWs 1941”).
When my parents emigrated to North America in 1963, they were only able to bring a few treasured possessions because of the cost. There was no room for artifacts from the war – no clothing, etc. So it was not possible use photos of artifacts as visual evidence.
I have used what still photos my parents have of themselves and their parents during the war, but it may seem an extremely small collection by today’s standards. During the war, family photos were considered luxuries and neither family was wealthy enough to be able to take a lot of photographs. It was hard enough to find sufficient food to eat and clothes to wear. Video footage of the family was out of the question. The affordability of still photography did not come until the 1960s and video not until the 1990s. (By the way, in the Gas Mask video Dad refers to a photograph of his childhood gas mask. I have seen this photograph so I know it exists, but my parents and I were unable to find it in time to complete this project.)
The second element of the class that this project demonstrates is that of Database Video. The interviews are housed as a (small) database on a web site and the viewer is free to explore the stories as they wish. This nonlinear form of storytelling actually makes the experience more realistic in that it is the same way that my brothers and I experienced these stories growing up. Perhaps this is also a realistic representation of how memory works as well – as short stories in a collection.