‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’ or so the saying goes and is quite appropriate when watching the following stop-motion video.
In my parent’s shed, there is a mountain of old photo albums – the kind with the sticky pages and plastic. My grandfather spent years organizing and cataloguing images that date back to the early 1900’s when he was a boy in China and my grandma was a little girl in Japan. Each album holds hundreds of images, my family’s history.
For years, I have told them that we needed to get the photographs into archival safe albums as the negatives to these thousands and thousands of images are now gone – lost over decades of moves over continents and such. So, this year, my project has been sorting through the endless amount of albums and images transferring each picture into a new album to keep our family’s heritage safe.
So what has become of all the discarded negatives of old? The years and years of memories that are recorded on a 35mm strip, forgotten once our images get picked up from a lab? In a box somewhere? Tossed in the trash? For three years, French artist Thomas Sauvin curated these discarded negatives at a Bejing recycling center, “where they had been sent to be filtered for their silver nitrate content.” These images span about 30 years and gives us a brief glimpse at the anonymous lives at the turn of China’s cultural revolution. Collecting over half a million discarded Kodak moments, Sauvin exhibited these images at a gallery a few years ago and titled the project, Bejing Silvermine, 2010-present.
Sauvin was approached by Chinese artist Lei Lei, who selected 3000 images to produce the following stop-motion animation. It has since won numerous awards and accolades, including being a Vimeo staff pic.
I watched the 5:39-minute video twice, and I could’ve sworn I saw a few pictures from my family albums.