Friday, April 30, 2010

Living Photographs

I first saw these amazing photographs in an issue of Martha Stewart Living a few years back and they've really enchanted me ever since. Arthur Mole and John Thomas would decide on a composition and then position thousands and thousands of soldiers to fill it in. According to Behind the Photo, "Firstly, they put the outlay (wireframe) of a desired image on a glass plate in Mr. Mole's camera. Then, with help of assistants, the image trace that was seen from the camera, was 'transferred' to the ground beneath the tower. Armed with a megaphone and a long stick with a white flag on it (so it is seen from the distance), Mole was able to show the assistants how and where to plot the curves of the desired image. The preparations for the shoot took several weeks and the actual positioning of people—several hours." What an amazing thing to attempt!
Arthus Mole and John Thomas—Living Photographs
Do you see all of the little guys in there? The liberty bell is made up of 25,000 people and the statue of liberty is 18,000 soldiers - both were shot in 1918. Interesting fact: due to the perspective, 2/3 of the people making up Ms. Liberty are positioned in the torch (roughly 16,000 compared to 2,000 in her entire body). Also interesting, the Statue image was meant to be used in a campaign to sell war bonds but was never actually used.
Arthus Mole and John Thomas—Living Photographs
The shield took 30,000 people and was shot in 1918 at Camp Custer in Michigan. I love the barracks in the background. What must these soldiers have thought of this nonsense? From anywhere but a certain above angle they would've looked a complete mess!
Arthus Mole and John Thomas—Living Photographs
These living insignias/emblems were both created in 1919 with the marines emblem (left) taking 9,100 men and the insignia on the right using 10,000. There are a handful more images that have been created such as profile images of Woodrow Wilson, Uncle Sam and American flags. What an amazing achievement this was!

(sources: behind the photo, wikipedia)

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