As of today more than 4.45 million people have taken a 2:52 minute tour through Western art by watching this video on YouTube. The creator of the video eggman913 has done an artful job of morphing the faces of 90 women from the late 12th century to the mid-1940s letting one flow into the next. It’s the quickest and slickest history of Western art I’ve seen yet and the fact that more than 4.4 million people have watched the video is a pretty good indication that a few other people agree with me. I’ll certainly be assigning it in my Western Civ class in the spring.
This video raises the obvious question of what other images from the past might be morphed together to create a similarly compelling presentation? I could imagine taking a selection of communist era statues like this one and this one (and several dozen more) to show how socialist realist art changed from the late 1940s to the late 1980s. Or a succession of faces of the great dictators of the 20th century–Lenin->Stalin->Hitler->Hoxha->Ceaucescu-> Pol Pot->Milosevič, etc.
One might argue that slick presentations like eggman913’s are just that–slick presentations. But the list of women linked to above shows that people watching the slick presentation can be motivated to investigate the facts behind the presentation. I think it would be fun to create one of the videos I’ve just suggested and then leave it up to the students in my class to figure out who was who. Anything we can do to draw our students into the fun of historical research seems to me worth the effort, especially if the results of our creative endeavors are shared in an open environment like YouTube.
Addendum: Since I wrote the original post earlier today, eggman913 responded to an email I’d sent him/her to let me know the morphing was done with the shareware program Fantamorph from Abrasoft.