In the spring and summer of 2012 Anh-Viet Dinh ‘15 created a series of photographs that invite the viewer to consider sixty years of Trinity’s history on its current site as if viewing the campus through a window. That window shows the University as it was in decades past, how it has changed, and what has stayed the same.
Dinh’s project began as a visual poetry assignment in a photography class. During the summer he mined the holdings of Trinity’s Special Collections for additional historical images of the campus. To create the new compositions Dinh aligned the older photographs by hand and attempted to replicate the original photographs’ orientation. The final works are often combinations of several shots, which Dinh had to splice, stitch, and retouch in order to create a seamless wide-angle view. Layering the images, Dinh helps the audience “visualize how each scene looked in the past” and attempts to “open the audience” to seeing campus landmarks in new ways.
By focusing the camera on the older image and allowing the contemporary view beyond to blur Dinh seems to foreground history, yet the presence of his hand, which is also in focus, pulls the viewer back to the present and draws attention to the constructed nature of the composition and history itself. The momentary disorientation the viewer registers as he or she tries to understand the relationship between the two images evokes the challenge of living with an awareness of the past.