OK, I have to admit it. I am totally fascinated with this early technology of stereoscope images from the 1850s to 1930s. I have a collection of many of these images, especially from World War I, as well as an old stereoscope to view them. Because these photos are taken with a camera with two lenses whose distance from each other is the distance between our eyes, when we view them through the stereoscope, they become three dimensional. I even have an image of my mother taken by my father from before I was born using a stereoscope camera. The experience of viewing these pictures is still quite intriguing as it must have been to the very first users. There is something very haunting about the realistic three-dimensionality of these images. When viewed through the stereoscope, you feel as if you are viscerally there in the space and place, a kind of illicit time travel.
The New York Public Library has taken this old technology to the next technological phase by digitalizing their entire collection of stereoscopic images, over 40,000, and allowing users to digitally create the very same effect with a bit of animation as well. Anyone can have access to this Stereogranimator and can embed the images they create in blogs, websites, and other social media. It’s rather addictive, actually. Between papers I was grading last night, I found myself creating one of these images as a kind of palate cleanser.
In fact, you need to go to their site right now and three-dimensionalize some past. Then send me the links to your favorites.
The link to the NYT’s article where I discovered the stereogranimator: 3-D It Yourself, Thanks to New Library Site.