View Master

Every summer we get reacquainted with View Master Technology.  We dig up the old View Master and the reels dating between the 40s and 50s and serially look at one reel after another.  The most popular ones are the ones that depict fairy tales, Hansel and Gretel (above), Cinderella and Jack in the Beanstalk.  We also have a lot of "adventure travel" reels.  60 year old pictures of children in Sweden and festivals in the Netherlands are super saturated with then state of the art technicolour. I love how the pictures stand up away from where you think they should be, early 3D technology.

The fairy tales are a favourite for a reason.  In 6 short frames they re-tell a story that we all know so well.  What I like is all the miniature detail and I like to imagine a little room with lights and a tiny set somewhere in America in 1949.  Maybe right off to the right of where I can see there is a rotary phone ringing or a coffee pot perking or a person smoking a cigarette. I like to imagine a mostly anonymous artist(s) constructing the set and photographing it.  As cartoonish as the sets are, they intrigue me and invite me to imagine, much like reading does.

Check out this picture of a Viewmaster designer, designing a character for 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, which I came across on the blog:  Picture is from Todd Popp's Todd Popp's flikr photostream which includes pictures of the original Viewmaster reels.