See It As It Was: Mapping Moving Images from Houston-Related Archives

Konstantin Georgiev, Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology

This project has two main goals. One is to put into historical perspective some of the seminar’s topics such as environmental justice and flooding events. The second goal is to explore the possibilities of the Diluvial Houston platforms in terms of mapping moving images.

To this end, I will use excerpts from documentaries and other footage available through Rice Media Center’s Film and Video Archive, as well as through the Woodson Research Center at Fondren Library. Films include student-made documentaries, non-fiction TV series by former staff and faculty, and some archival footage of Rice’s campus.

All short clips will be hosted online, in an embed-able format, and will be assigned geolocations. Once organized in this manner, all video clips will be mapped on the Diluvial Houston platform. This will allow users to see glimpses of Houston as it was decades ago, and they will be able to not only compare past and current images, but also to detect trends, related to environmental justice, disaster-related urban design and displacement. Therefore, such a project will be of use to qualitative researches in a broad arrange of fields, including—but not limited to—history, architecture, anthropology, sociology and even urban planning, engineering, and policy making.

For this pilot stage of the mapping endeavor, I will limit the scope of the project to film shots and scenes that are shot from a single location, with an immobile camera. This means that I will be mapping only using points and not lines or polygons. Once I have established a reliable working process and identified issues within the mapping project, I will be able to address these issues. Upon resolving these, I will be able to map more complex shots and scenes, in which the camera is moving.

Once this project has concluded, it will have laid the groundwork for the Diluvial Houston program to incorporate other moving images, which may include not only documentary and archival footage, but also fiction or news reports. With some additional work, the platform could incorporate features such as self-guided tours, on which users can use their mobile device’s geolocation services to explore Houston’s development through time and space. The platform could potentially play the video clips automatically, after detecting a user’s location and proximity to a clip that is already mapped.