We’ve explored examples of photography as time travel — time slipping, time collapsing, time-telescoping, and more. With one small (but fun!) variation, the images from the three photographers below share a theme of time straddling: using a photo, in the place it was originally taken, as a picture-window into the past. (How long before VR goggles help us not only see through time in still imagery, but allow us to walk around in the past?)
Notice how each artist approaches the same concept differently, and with different effect. Julien Knez’s windows into historical Paris remind us of how well-preserved the city is (and, subtly, why that is); in contrast, Babak Fakhamzadeh’s work in Freetown shows us the decay that’s set in in many post-colonial African cities. Far afield from both is Francois Dourien’s ongoing project: more whimsical, yet with a sly nod to how popular culture – as delivered by our smartphones – can become the goggles through which we view our physical environment.
Links will jump you down the page:
Taking advantage of living in what’s possibly the world’s most-photographed city, Knez culled through photos of street scenes taken between 1871 and 1968, then shot the same location from the same angle. If you’ve ever visited an old place and meditated on how many others have traced the same steps, Knez’s work can offer tantalizing confirmation and detail.
He’s recently published his collection in a book — Paris: Fenêtres sur l’Histoire (Windows onto History).
Where Paris through Julien Knez’s lens is an example of pride and continuity, Fakhamzadeh’s Once Salone project is about uncovering a past that has all but crumbled away due to different currents of history (shall we say… source of colonialism vs. its product?). The photographer found vintage postcards, then, because so much had changed after years of neglect and civil war, went to no small trouble trying to figure out where they’d originally been taken.
This project was featured in the book Photoviz: Visualizing Information Through Photography.
In interviews, Dourien has described how he’s used his smartphone and Instagram to link his own musings and inspiration in everyday life to popular culture:
“Nothing is planned. Ideas typically come to me when I’m walking throughout town. When I see something I like, I go on Google images and find the picture I need to superpose with the real background.”