London’s Past Meets London’s Present

London’s Past Meets London’s Present June 4, 2014

I’ll be honest. I was sold on this video the moment Open Culture described it as “using Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony as a sort of sonic mortar.” (Of course, as I scan through my archives, I find that I have been fascinated by this sort of past/present mashup for some time now. I’m nothing if not …reliable.)

Time has altered all of Parkinson’s and Miller’s locations over the last 90 years, as Smith’s 2013 footage shows. The iconic architecture may remain, but Covent Garden now caters to tourists, a rack of Boris Bikes flanks the Haymarket, and the West End reflects the sensibilities of ladies who dare appear in public in trousers.

And here’s Smith in his own words. (Matching up the camera motion seems like it would be quite a challenge. The pan before the 4:00 mark, for example, is dead-perfect. I’m not even sure how you’d do that. He’s had some practice, though.)

In 1924, Harry B. Parkinson and Frank Miller documented London in a fantastic series of short films, known as “Wonderful London”. Over the last few months, I have stood in their foot-steps, recapturing their shots exactly, and have blended the two together creating a window through time.

…it’s more of a keyhole effect, through which viewers can peep into the past.

Assuming the medium (and species) survives, we may one day seem as quaint and the sepia-toned figures bustling through the earlier film. Unthinkable? What will the modern world surrounding our keyhole look like?


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