In the past days I have been working steadily on a number of different photographs, from the Back to the Future Project. This particular image originates from grade 5 or 6, I can't remember which. Either way, in this photograph I am likely 10 or 11, landing the time frame between 1986-88.
This particular image is proving to be a bit of a challenge, probably the most challenging of all the images, because of the props. Although some of my other images required me to remake a cake with my mother, recreate a horrible paisley shirt from my gradation photo, or travel to Campbell River and dig out my old swimming medals. This particular image I have several props that I need to make to successfully complete the images that I am recreating.
As you can see from this image I have two props that I need to make. The easy part of this image is going to be the eagle mask; yes it is in fact an eagle mask. If you loos at it closely you will see that it has a hooked beak marking it as an eagle. The second piece that needs to be recreated is the sweater, with a very specific Scandinavian knitting pattern.
In recreating the mask I have decided that I must make the mask a little larger than the original, so it stays proportionate. Of course, it will probably be impossible to recreate it exactly. Recalling the way the mask was originally created, it used 1/2 to one sheet of 22"x28" Bristol board. With the other half of the paper I crafted the beak by cutting the profile from a folded piece of paper and using masking tape to hole the curve together. It took me a little time of thought to figure out how to put the beak together. The thing that shocked me the most, as a young chap somehow I was able to figure out how to make the beak. It wasn't just a prefab pattern given by the teacher, I somehow thought up the design.
Paper beak, taped and now ready for painting
Acrylic paint: Cadmium Red Medium Hue. Wish I had a deep hue
Attaching the beak to the mask with tape, before gluing
The eyes are cut from slips of paper that are scored, then folded. After the scoring and folding I cut slits that will allow me to fold the edges over and form an irs. Then I coloured it blue with pencil crayon.
I attached the eyes to the mask using glue and tape. Then I cut a flap of paper, this will form the bottom of the beak. I attach it below the upper portion of the beak.
The sweater proved to be as big a challenge as I anticipated. The pattern was very specific and any deviation from it would be very obvrious. At first I found a solid red knitted sweater, I intended to cut a black tshirt up and stitch the pattern in place. This was going to be a significant amount of work. However, I lucked out and found another sweater with a black line pattern that forms diamond shapes. With a little work, this is going to be great.
The two read sweaters
Cutting out the top collar
To overcome the challenge of the colourd diamonds, I used yellow acrylic paint. Painting this right onto the sweater might lok poor up close, however through the camera with the variety of filters, it will look good.
I messed up the pattern but it won't be seen.
After completing the painting, I used fabric glue to attach the painted colour to the second sweater. It looks close, or at least close enough to the original.
I called my photographer friend, Sean Fenzl; he helped me with being the man behind the camera pushing the button. We traveled to the site, my elementary school Chase River Elementary. The school is really close to where I live, about a 5 minute drive. The thing I love about working with Sean is that he lets me do the setting up but is always willing to be a second pair of eyes. After having my mother use the shutter and another friend help pose me, it is definitely a boon to have someone who understands how a camera works.
This photograph was by far the easier than many of the other images to find the position for. The shot is quite simple and the lighting straight forward. Although I did get the location of the camera and the position of it correct, I didn't take the image in the correct season, or the correct time of day. This photograph was probably originally taken in May or June at 1:30 -200, i remember lining up with other students close to the end of the day to have our masks documented.
I have to consider what all this means, it is a lot of effort to recreate a single shot. There is definitely a connection between the past and current me. Though looking at the title, back to the future, seems to indicate that the shot has something more do do with the past self looking forward to the future. In this regard, it is putting myself into the mindset of the 10 year old boy. Thinking of all the elements that went into the moment the photograph was taken, what position I was in, why I made the mask, why did I choose that sweater. Emotionally, considering all of the things that are going on at the original moment of my life. Then, in the moment of becoming my former self, consider what I have become. What compelled me to take the path that I have. It is interesting.