Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The Return of FotoTales
Ten years ago, I shot anywhere from ten to two hundred digital photos of San Francisco and the wider world for 365 straight days. It was an attempt both to capture time and revolutionize photojournalism, back in the days before photoblogs and the practice of posting pictures of perfect strangers on the internet became ubiquitous. Not knowing what would be important to viewers in the future, I tried to capture a bit of everything, from the mundane to the sensational, and a major surprise was discovering how much of each day we flush from our brains each day. Editing the photos in Photoshop every evening before turning each day's collection into a PowerPoint presentation the next morning, the recurring thought was, "This all happened today?"
The year-long project started without any clue what the various storylines would be. A few of the narratives turned out to be the California energy crisis created by Enron, the collapse of the dot-com boom in the Bay Area, the increasing corruption of the financial services industry which I witnessed first-hand creating propaganda for Wells Fargo Bank, and the world before and after 9/11. There were also recurring characters who were friends, crazy people on the street, Muni bus riders, coworkers, and family. It turned out to be a very rich stew.
After finishing this ambitious project, I joined the public access TV station in San Francisco which had just opened a new studio at Market and Valencia Streets, and turned the 365 PowerPoint shows into 52 weekly, half-hour episodes that mirrored a year. This involved a good deal of editing, mostly pruning the text, and then scoring the shows with 365 different pieces of music which were half classical and half everything else under the sun. The title theme, a glorious trumpet fanfare from Britten's obscure opera "Gloriana," is the only recurring music and it's great fun. After its first showing, I spent the next year polishing the entire series and rebroadcast it in that revised, final form.
Ten years have passed since April 2001 to March 2002, so it seemed a good time to rebroadcast the series again. BAVC (the Bay Area Video Coalition) is now in charge of public access TV in San Francisco, and they are helping to export the old digital videotapes into more current formats.
The show started broadcasting with Episode 1 last week and a new episode will appear every Thursday at 7:30 PM on Channel 29 via Comcast cable in San Francisco. Check out our recently vanished world.
Update: For reasons unknown, the show wasn't broadcast tonight (Thursday). However, you can watch it streamed online from the BAVC site on your computer where it probably works better anyway. Click here for Episode 1. Click here for Episode 2.