Formation Photography
April 24, 2008 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Arthur Mole first developed his technique of collective portraiture in a religious context, photographing fellow church members gathered together in the shape of religious symbols. When the United States entered World War I, Mole and his colleague John Thomas turned to patriotic themes. They choreographed thousands of soldiers into formations such as the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty. Their largest production was the U.S. Human Shield, photographed at Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan, which comprised 30,000 men. Wiki. posted by ColdChef (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Great post, ColdChef. Something about the perspective in those pictures is really disorienting.
posted by saladin at 7:54 AM on April 24, 2008

The most amazing thing is that he always used multiples of 1,000 people for his works.
posted by yhbc at 8:04 AM on April 24, 2008

Nice post ColdChef.

Sounds like something the North Koreans would do. Except they would use 100,000 people and put them into synchronized motion. It's way more patriotic than just standing there.
posted by three blind mice at 8:06 AM on April 24, 2008

The perspective is the best thing about these photos. The actual formation of the participants took the camera angle into account, so I'm guessing the "top" of the created object had to be wider? Excellent post, sir.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:07 AM on April 24, 2008

The dots at the top/back of the shield one don't look like they could be humans. In fact, the way it fades from humans to faceless, even bodiless dots, is the really most interesting thing.
posted by DU at 8:19 AM on April 24, 2008

posted by tachikaze at 8:20 AM on April 24, 2008

I thought t was somewhat familiar. Drat. Both are good posts, though, so good on the both of you.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:40 AM on April 24, 2008

Though I like how yours had more links and background.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:41 AM on April 24, 2008

Great post. I'd love to see some of those formations shot from a different perspective -- From a straight overhead perspective, I assume the rear (or "top") of the figures would look way over-exaggerated (you can see that the top has far more people than the front/bottom). Kind of similar to those sidewalk chalk artists who draw amazing images that look 3-d from one specific perspective, but weird and exaggerated from the opposite perspective.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:53 AM on April 24, 2008

I really liked the correction for perspective as well. It's pretty amazing to look from the front to the back of the formation, and then look at the buildings in the background, and realize how the "resolution" increases towards the back of the formation.

I wonder how they set it up? I'd imagine you'd probably need surveying equipment to do it right.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:05 AM on April 24, 2008

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