The main goal of the Photogrammar site, also stated in their grant proposal, is to make the 160,000 photos from the FSA-OWI project more relevant by making them available to the public at large in an aesthetically pleasing format, and by providing a user-friendly way for those interested in these photos to organize and analyze them in various ways. While all these photos are accessible on the Library of Congress website, Photogrammar’s different search functions promote thematic investigations of the photos and make research using them much easier. For example, if I wanted to see examples of what housing was like in California along the southern border in the mid 1930s, I could do so by using the Metadata Lab:
I think Photogrammar is highly successful in the fulfillment of this goal. While exploring the site, I not only found all the search functions intuitive, but because they were simple and aesthetically pleasing they led me to stay longer on the site and look into photos that weren’t even related to my topic. I have no suggestions for Photogrammar, other than to keep working on those final two “Lab” sections so that I can use them as well!
I describe the driving goal of Truett and Young's "Continental Crossroads" in my description, and a review of the book from the Journal of American history similarly states that the authors' "intent is to complicate history and offer new lenses for looking at canonized narratives."
Considering that one of the main ideas of the book is to express the complicated and interwoven histories and community relations that existed at the US-Mexico border at the turn of the 19th century (and still exist today!), I think it makes a lot of sense that this book compiles essays written by various authors. The perspective from a variety of authors is a nice marriage of form and content: the book approaches an atmosphere of plurality through a plurality of voices. Similarly, the second section of the book addresses how the telling of a single story can be manipulated by the use of varying lenses, which is central to the book's point, mainly that the diversity of interests of different groups lends itself to the complication of a region. Part four moves closer to the current century as it comments on the remapping of ethnic, national, and gender boundaries in the 20th centuryCITEMUSE. In doing this the authors remind us that the diversity of the border region is not static, but is continually shifting; the situation as described in the late 1800s has since morphed into a new map of relationships continues to defy homogenous description.
Finally, the ebook format of this text allows for easy navigation, as well as allows the reader to conduct simultaneous related research in a separate tab if he or she so wishes to cross reference or deepen understanding of a topic covered in the book. I think this is a very informationally robust novel organized in a sensible way. The Journal of American History review notes that the book may have benefited from less of a focus on Texas and some examination of the Indian peoples of the American Southwest.
Weatherspoon: "Zone of Contention" Exhibit:
The Weatherspoon page for their exhibit "Zone of Contention: The US-Mexico Border" has a dual goal: first, to get people to come see the exhibit, and second, to prime viewers for the exhibit, by getting across the main point of the show. Both the exhibit's main page and the gallery guide state that the exhibit's goal is to give a big picture view of the debate over the border in terms of its "current social and ideological impact," while also narrowing in on how the situation there affects North Carolina specifically.
The Weatherspoon page is fairly successful in these regards. By offering the slideshow of pieces and explanations of the goals of a fair number of them, I am able to get an idea for the artists' points of view. For example, looking at "Caution!! Migrant Workers of Arizona, One and All" and reading its description in the gallery guide I am exposed to the artists' anger at the injustice of Arizona Immigration Bill SB 1070.
However, because I am not in the physical space of the gallery, the choices made by the curator about whic pieces are placed where are lost on me, and I miss any continuity she may have been aiming for. I also miss out on being able to make my own connections between pieces, as I cannot move from one to the other with ease. Additionally, I cannot take in the impact of the pieces' actual sizes or textures, and both physical installations, such as the collection of objects found at the border that sits in the center of the gallery, as well as any film pieces, are not available to close inspection. These factors work for the museum in that they make me want to go see the exhibit myself, but also work against the organization because I am not able to understand the full impact of the exhibit. One way in which the website could be improved would be to have a virtual tour of the gallery on the exhibit page, so that I could at least examine the space and continuity of the pieces in more detail, as well as note their relative sizes.
As for the exhibit's other goal, to begin a conversation on how border issues affect North Carolina, the page is successful in that the series of related links below the exhibit's blurb each give me a little idea about this connection. They advertise events such as a showing of a documentary regarding the lives of "guest workers", or Mexican immigrants who come on contract to the US (NC included!) to do landscaping work. While this educates me about how the border environment is connected to North Carolina, since I am not able to view the film I definitely am not seeing the whole picture. A link to the trailer for the documentary may be helpful in this case.
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