In the Garden Instagram Challenge

Posted by on May 05 2015 | contest, House & Gardens, Other, Photography

Challenge yourself this summer and engage with our new photography exhibition In the Garden (on view May 9-September 6).

Each week on Instagram, we’ll be exploring a different theme related to gardens and how humans cultivate the landscape. Post your response to each weekly photo challenge using the hashtags #eastmanhouse and #inthegarden — and don’t forget to include the week number (see list below) in your caption.

The challenge starts the week of May 4, and ends Sunday, September 6. Submit at least 10 weekly challenges for a chance to win prizes from the Eastman House Store. For more information, follow us on Instagram: @eastmanhouse. And be sure to visit the exhibition In the Garden for inspiration!

Get creative! We encourage you to post your own interpretations of these weekly themes:
Week 1 (May 4) | Public gardens
Week 2 (May 11) | Favorite flower
Week 3 (May 18) | Human impact on the land
Week 4 (May 25) | Favorite person in a garden
Week 5 (June 1) | Sunrise/Sunset in a garden
Week 6 (June 8) | Hedgerow
Week 7 (June 15) | Bridge in a garden
Week 8 (June 22) | Garden picnic
Week 9 (June 29) | Farm/Cultivated landscape
Week 10 (July 6) | Animals in the garden
Week 11 (July 13) | Working in a garden
Week 12 (July 20) | Food from a garden
Week 13 (July 27) | Black & white flower/plant
Week 14 (August 3) | Interesting angle
Week 15 (August 10) | Water in a garden
Week 16 (August 17) | Playing in a garden
Week 17 (August 24) | Leaf
Week 18 (August 31) | Garden symmetry
BONUS | George Eastman’s gardens

Rachel Pikus is the Manager of Online Engagement at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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Blind Date with Nitrate

Posted by on May 03 2015 | Motion Pictures, Other

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Print source: George Eastman House
Running time: 95 minutes

Screening Sunday, May 3 at 2 p.m. at the Nitrate Picture Show.

About the film
The frame enlargement reproduced above was taken from the nitrate print to be presented in this program. If you are able to identify its title from the image, you are more than welcome to spread the news ahead of the screening.

All of the other films featured in the official schedule of the Nitrate Picture Show were announced on the morning of the festival’s opening day. We are now asking you to take a further leap of faith and come to this show without knowing what the film is.

In the months preceding this weekend, our technicians and curators inspected all sorts of films, ranging from undisputed classics to relatively obscure items. Our pleasure in looking at them didn’t derive much from the reputation of their creators, or from their stylistic achievements; we were, quite simply, in awe at how beautiful they looked after so many years. We would like to share some of this joy with you, regardless of the film’s critical pedigree.

The second reason for inviting you to a blind date with nitrate is the element of surprise. Each of us, at least once in our lives, has gone to the movies without knowing anything about the title we would see. This condition of blissful ignorance was, to some extent, part of the game. Not infrequently, the will to embrace the unknown is rewarded with a revelation, whether of a major work or an undiscovered gem. The sense of surprise achieved through this humble gesture has given these films a special place in our itinerary as moviegoers. It is a precious gift that deserves to be honored.

This mystery film is no more and no less important than the others in this festival. Don’t expect a previously lost masterwork—nor, for that matter, a mere curiosity item for hardcore cinephiles. It is cinema, embodied in a nitrate print.

Jared Case is the Head of Collection Information and Access for the Motion Picture Department and one of the most popular instructors at the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation. He graduated from the school himself in 2002 and has been with George Eastman House ever since. He is a film noir aficionado and can be found at film festivals, mystery conventions and noir conferences around the country.

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The Nitrate Picture Show Projectors and Projectionists

Posted by on May 02 2015 | Behind The Scenes, Motion Pictures, Other

Each introduction to a film at the Nitrate Picture Show includes special recognition of the projectionists in the booth who are the behind-the-scenes heroes making this entire festival possible. They certainly deserve an extra round of applause!

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The Projectors
A gift of the Century Projector Company, the Century Model C Projectors have been installed in the Dryden Theatre since it opened in 1951. These machines are “closed head” projectors, so-called because the entire film path from feed magazine to takeup magazine is enclosed. This makes them safer for running nitrate print film. Other safety features on the projectors include fire rollers or fire valves located between the body of the projector and the film magazines and a fire shutter. The fire rollers help prevent a fire from spreading to the roll of film in either magazine. The fire shutter cuts off the hot beam of light when the projector is either slowed down or stopped, helping to keep the film from catching on fire.

projector
The projectors were originally set up with carbon arc lamp houses, replaced in 1979 with xenon light sources as carbons were being gradually phased out. The Century projectors’ sound reproducers have also been upgraded over the years to ensure the best possible sound from vintage sound tracks.

Inspection report for CASABLANCA on display in the projection booth.

Inspection report for CASABLANCA on display in the projection booth.

Original release print of CASABLANCA (1942) queued up for opening night.

Original release print of CASABLANCA (1942) queued up in the booth for opening night.

The Projectionists
Spencer Christiano, projection specialist at Eastman House, is a graduate of the SUNY College at Brockport Department of Theatre (BS) and the MCC Visual Communication Technology: Photography- Television program (AAS). For nine years, he was chief projectionist at Rochester’s Cinema Theatre, and for two years, technical manager of the MuCCC theater, where he is currently an artist-in-residence. He is very active in the performing arts community, and has written, directed, designed, and managed more than two hundred theatrical, dance, mixed media, and conceptual art productions.

Jim Harte is a 1979 graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts Department of Film and Television. He has worked in New York City and Rochester as a film editor, writer, director, and archivist. He joined the projectionist team at George Eastman House in 2013.

Steve Hryvniak landed at Eastman House in 2004 after 25 years as a motion picture (later, entertainment) imaging technician at Eastman Kodak Company, where he contributed to new motion picture products and projection room support.

Projectionists Darryl G. Jones and Jim Harte.

Projectionists Darryl G. Jones and Jim Harte.

Darryl G. Jones has worked as a part-time projectionist since 1968. In addition to serving as a relief projectionist and service engineer for Eastman House, he was employed by Eastman Kodak Company from 1974 to 2007 as a systems development technician on traditional photographic, video, and digital cameras. He is the past president of the Rochester International Film Festival and has been their projection chairperson since 1975. He is a life member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).

Patrick Tiernan is a Rochester native and an avid film fan. He holds a degree in film studies from SUNY College at Brockport. He has been projecting film at Eastman House for four years.

Ben Tucker is assistant collection manager in the Moving Image Department at Eastman House. He is a graduate of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and has been employed by the museum since 2003.

Rachel Pikus is the Manager of Online Engagement at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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Nitrate Did Wait

Posted by on May 01 2015 | Motion Pictures

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In the year 2000, the International Federation of Film Archives held a special program at the British Film Institute. It was called “The Last Nitrate Picture Show.” David Francis, former head of BFI’s National Film and Television Archive, was its godfather. His successor, Clyde Jeavons, was the chief curator of the series. A book was published for the occasion, titled This Film Is Dangerous, edited by Roger Smither. Fifteen years later, nitrate film hasn’t gone away. Its valedictory appearance at the National Film Theatre in London turned out to be a “see you later” rather than a farewell. Francis, Jeavons, and Smither are also doing fine. They are the guardian angels of the festival you are about to attend.

More than being dangerous, nitrate film was an endangered species from the beginning of its tormented, beautiful life. Because it is chemically unstable, archives and museums have tried to transfer its images onto other carriers; hence the catchphrase “nitrate won’t wait,” adopted in the 1970s as the mantra of preservation activists. In some countries, nitrate film must be destroyed after duplication. Projecting it is forbidden everywhere except at a handful of specialized venues. The Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House is one of them.

In quantitative terms, nitrate prints are a legion—well over a million reels worldwide. Because of their fragile condition, most of them can be used only for the purposes of preservation. Some prints, however, still possess most of their original radiance and can be projected on a big screen. You are about to witness their resurrection in a unique event where cinema will speak on its own terms.

Nitrate film projection is a curatorial discipline in itself; as such, its performance is a synthesis of art and science. The Nitrate Picture Show is also a celebration of all of the individuals and organizations in charge of this mission. Its motto is a variation of our predecessors’ call to action: nitrate can wait. It did. Here it is.

Full 2015 program schedule: eastmanhouse.org/nitratepictureshow

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Paolo Cherchi Usai is the Senior Curator in the Moving Image Department at George Eastman House/

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1989 – Celebrating Joe Struble at Eastman House

Posted by on Mar 30 2015 | Behind The Scenes, Exploring the Archive, Other, Photography

After more than 25 years in the Photography Department, Collection Manager Joe R. Struble is retiring from Eastman House. On March 30, the staff had a party to celebrate Joe’s career at the museum and wish him well in the next chapter of his life. The following are Joe’s remarks to the staff:

1989

George Bush was president… Not “W” but George H.W. Bush… Bush ’41… he and Dan Quayle had just been inaugurated that January.

A hit movie of 1989… Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

The Simpsons debuted.

And so did I, at Eastman House!
(This photo could have been an audition photo for the Ned Flanders role in a live production of The Simpsons)

Photo by: Chris Holmquist

Photo by: Chris Holmquist

I was 41 years old — well into “responsible adulthood.”

I had trained as a Social Worker, received an MSW degree in 1977, but after struggling to find my place and my voice in that field I decided at age 30 to “see what else I might do with my life.”

That period of searching (and not always an active one) took 10 years, during which time I clerked and stocked shelves at CVS Pharmacy (#285 on East Main Street).

I had some career counseling at one point and the one “take-away” from that was that I scored high in liking “synthesis.” (huh?)

“Synthesis: the combining of often diverse conceptions into a coherent whole.”

I had always liked art and history, so I volunteered first at the Visual Studies Workshop and then at Eastman House, in the Library and Photo Collection, which in 1988 were in the same area, on top of the Dryden Theatre. The turmoil of the late 80’s had passed, the collections were supported and a building (which I still sometimes call the ”New Building” was nearly done.

David Wooters, the Archivist in the Photo Collection hired me when a position of Assistant Archivist was created and I came on board. Until he retired in 2009, he was my mentor.

I remember telling him back then “I know a lot about toothpaste and all varieties of baby diapers…I can point anybody to the Halls Cough Drops or to the shower caps, but I don’t know much about photographers or where to begin to look for something in the vault. He replied (presciently) “you will learn.”

Some years later, when I was getting up to speed someone helped me characterize this experience. She said “You learned as an apprentice… a very good, time-honored way to gain new knowledge and skills.”

I look over the door of the Library sometimes and read the words from the Eastman House Mission statement:
“We build Information Resources to provide the Means for both scholarly research and recreational inquiry.”

Here’s where that “synthesis part” comes in.

I came to know a collection of 400,000 photos, with the potential to illustrate the history of the practice of photography.

David taught us (and by us I include Janice Madhu, my colleague) that the holdings here were not just a “collection of nouns”… not just pictures of flowers, fire engines, seashells or the Flat Iron Building, but a collection that could show how photography shows a flower, fire engines, seashells or the Flat Iron Building, how photography showed life events, wars, how photography sold a products, and ideas, and ideologies. The collection could preserve evidence of how generation of families presented themselves to the camera and also how some families organized this evidence into albums.

I synthesized all my experiences from all the questions asked of the collection and you know what, I slowly climbed to the top of the hill and could see and interpret the collection broadly and in its particulars. It is broad and can answer almost any question presented to it with the evidence of images… some questions more fully than others, of course.

I have been told many times: What a great job you have… you get to look at pictures all day long. To which I respond: well, not really, I get to look for pictures most of the time.

But what an adventure, what a privilege, really, to have a job that has given me such proximity to this Collection.

And quite simple, it has given me a Life, something to learn about and to know, and always to share with others. It has given me a community of others of like interest — here in the US and around the World. And finally, it has given me a few lifelong friends, as well as many wonderful colleagues, and a day-to day routine and sense of purpose that I know I will miss very much.

Just this last week, I thought of a way to characterize retirement from Eastman House for myself. It’s been like a plane, descending, gradual, getting closer to landing. In the last month, the “fasten seat belt” sign has been on and by late Friday, I’ll be on the ground. Many people have asked me what I’ll do next, and I have the luxury of saying “I don’t know.” I have to land first.

 
Congratulations, Joe! We wish you all the best!

Joe Struble is the Department of Photography Collection Manager at George Eastman House.

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