Time Travel Photography

ChildLaborBruceI’ll admit it—I get a lot of ideas from Facebook. While there is much there I’d just as soon avoid, I love keeping in touch with far off friends, and I love seeing the examples of creativity I’d never find on my own.

Today’s post started with a Facebook link to artist Chino Otsuka, who has created a series of “time traveling” photographs by inserting photos of her adult self into photos of her childhood. The results are fascinating, and made me wonder what other time-bending photography might be created. I discovered one site that inserts childhood photos into their current locations, and another in which photographer Flori Borsi inserted herself (complete with modern camera) into historic shots—a bit like Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump was inserted into historic movie footage.

childlabor2And that made me wonder, “How would it affect students to see themselves inserted into the time period they are studying?” What would happen if students added their faces to images of child laborers in the industrial revolution, or perhaps Civil War soldiers, or flappers from the 1920s? If they then were to imagine their lives in another time and place, would it help?

I tried an experiment, with virtually no photo-editing skills and ten minutes, and managed to insert the face of one of my family members into a photo of early child workers. You can see the results in the middle of the three boys above. I’ll admit the image haunts me. And I suspect it wouldn’t be hard to create something similar using physical cutting and pasting of photocopies rather than digital edits.

So if you teach history, consider some photographic time travel. I would love to hear what happens, and promise to post any photos you send.

I wonder what I’d look like as a flapper. . . . . ?

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