thursday sumo: old school stereo

Back in October (when the Elephant was hibernating), Pink Tentacle posted a set of wonderful animated stereoviews by early Japanese photographer T. Enami, including this one of a handful of rikishi displaying their kesho-mawashi:

(Click through to check out more of Enami's photographs, and other shots of vintage sumo and other scenes of old Japan, from Flickr user Okinawa Soba.)

It’s a fascinating combination of stillness and motion, depth, and not-quite-natural color.  Also, the dude on the left moved during the exposure, dooming him to an eternity of ghostly half-existence.  Scary.

For our edification, I also decided to do a little ImageReady work so we could check out the embroidery in more detail, which is not a phrase I ever expected to type:

the bastard-child of functionality

vans and the places they were” may be the only website I’ve ever seen that makes good, intentional use of horizontal scrolling.  What could have been one-trick, internet gag fare (that is, shots of custom vans) is tied together in an engaging way by its sideways-sliding gallery.  Though the shots portray stillness, the scrolling imparts on them a semblance of their natural motion, and invites the viewer to dwell in the differences between the images–not just differences of space and design, but of color and feeling.

BoingBoing makes an interesting argument about these shots as ephemeral art–that is, the placement of the vans in their respective environments is inherently fleeting (none of these fellas are up on blocks, rotting away), making the appreciation of their juxtaposition keyed to a limited period of time.  One might argue, of course, that photography–especially photography posted on the internet–is the opposite of ephemeral, in that it takes a passing moment and makes it (relatively) permanent.  The artist himself adds another dimension to the conversation:

Over the course of the project the vans themselves have become more and more of a rarity. The reasons are as simple as rust and changing tastes; and as complex as government “cash for clunkers” initiatives encouraging more fuel-efficient transportation. Notably, at the same time these vans have been disappearing from our roads – film photography as a visual medium has also begun it’s slow death. Consequently the goal of the project is to one day shoot the last remaining van on the final frame of photographic film in existence. Then the project will be finished.

What, then, of horizontal scrolling, the bastard-child of functionality?  If the conversion van and the film camera are technologies that are fading away to make room for the new, horizontal scrolling is a technology which, despite its irritating near-uselessness, is unavoidably here to stay, necessary in order to preserve the integrity of web-design, but never (well, almost never) used with artistry or intention.  Is this a sad tale of neglected dimensions?  Or a heartwarming yarn about the potential of the underdog?  Scroll to the right to find out.