Rick Prelinger and “Ephemeral Film”

So much of what is our own personal history is also a part of the collective memory of our communities.  The popular culture that surrounds us during our lifetime will certainly be lost to history if not chronicled by common everyday events as opposed to historical texts.  To that end,  Rick Prelinger has founded an archives that has collected films, videos and footage not saved elsewhere–things like corporate films, nonprofit ventures, advertisements and other items which have informed our lives.  As an avid open-access advocate, Mr. Prelinger gave much of his collection to the Library of Congress but retains and still collects so much more.

In an enchanting and more welcoming approach to history, Mr. Prelinger yearly hosts Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, a video montage of clips from decades of San Francisco daily life which is a telling portrait of the city.  If you are under forty, you probably do not remember a Buffalo with a vibrant downtown but through similar clips you could be a party to what it was really like here then and, for those older, what exists still in memory.  The concepts this approach draws out are fascinating and a good argument for not tossing that which looks inconsequential.

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