The world, we frequently hear, was once larger. At the moment, for those who really feel the faintest twinge of curiosity a few distant place — Beijing, Paris, Cambodia, Egypt — you may near-instantaneously name up numerous hours of high-quality video footage shot there, and with solely a little bit extra effort even talk in real-time with individuals really residing there. This can be the case within the early twenty-first century, however it actually wasn’t within the early twentieth. For those who’d needed to see the world again then, you both needed to journey it your self, an costly and even harmful proposition, or else rent a group of skilled photographers to go forth and seize it for you.
Albert Kahn, a profitable French banker and speculator, did each. A couple of years after making his personal journey around the globe, taking stereographic photographs and even motion-picture footage alongside the best way, he got here up with the concept for a challenge known as Les archives de la planète, or The Archives of the Planet.
Directed by the geographer Jean Brunhes (and influenced by the thinker Henri Bergson, a pal of Kahn’s), Les archives de la planète spent a lot of the nineteen-tens and nineteen-twenties dispatching photographers to varied ends of the earth on fewer than 4 continents: Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. And for those who click on on these hyperlinks, you may see the challenge’s photographs from the related areas your self.
Having been digitized, the fruits of Les archives de la planète now reside on-line, on the site of the Albert Kahn Museum. You may browse its assortment there, or on this picture portal, the place you may view featured photographs or entry whichever a part of the world within the early twentieth century you’d wish to see. (Simply be sure that to do it in French.) The net archive incorporates a big chunk of the 72,000 autochrome photos taken in 50 nations by Kahn’s photographers earlier than he was worn out by the inventory market crash of 1929. Made freely accessible in excessive decision a century after the peak of his challenge, these vivid and evocative photos remind us that, nevertheless small the world has turn into, the previous stays a overseas nation.
through ArtNet Information/Petapixel
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embody the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by means of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.