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Michael Falco – Civil War Pinhole Project

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Michael Falco – Civil War Pinhole Project

Duggal client, photographer Michael Falco has taken on an amazing new project in order to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Arming himself with nothing but an arsenal of pinhole cameras, Falco has been documenting the war’s battlefields and attending reenactments in the guise of a 19th century photographer, producing images that reflect an aesthetic of a world gone by.

Falco has been tracing the steps of our forefathers, following the timeline of the war and capturing images that seem to be closer to dream than reality. Discovering the descendants of the war embedded in the reenactment community, Falco became a reenactor himself as a means of gaining more of the soldiers’ perspective.

Dressed in their Confederate uniforms with the backdrop of the pristine 19th Century landscape of the Battlefield at Manassas in the background, it soon occurred to me that many Americans continue to have deep connections to these landscapes. I decided at this point in addition to photographing the wars battlefields that I would train my cameras on the reenactments as well. The combination of  the subtle battlefield landscapes juxtaposed with the smoke filled reenactments images would create a poetic visual narrative of the wars’ sesquicentennial.

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Included in his box of tricks are pinhole cameras for a variety of focal lengths; seven cameras to choose from. Six of these cameras require 4×5 film, the seventh and largest requires 8×10 film sheets. Falco uses Kodak Portra film for all of his photographs.

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The project itself seems wonderfully poetic, and even Falco’s own words in describing his tools reflect that.

The cameras tiny, fixed aperture creates a soft, infinite focal plane—a canvas where details are obscured. The minuscule amount of light entering the camera requires a long exposure time that pushes the images into the ambiguous terrain between landscape and dreamscape. Wind blows, leaves  rustle, clouds move, the earth turns.”

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His shots evoke a sense of nostalgia that no living human could possibly possess. The faceless soldiers, the empty landscapes still preserved, sprawls of land frozen in time, and the stirring imagery of a country torn apart. Through Falco’s photographs we catch a glimpse of history, and the men who come together to ensure that the sacrifices of our predecessors are not forgotten.

Reenactors watch as the battle begins outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 2013

“This is, for me, a personal odyssey along the length and breadth of America’s deepest wound. I trust the images will evoke the wonder, the awe, and, ultimately, the peace I’ve found on this pilgrimage through the country’s consecrated domains.”

Reenactment of the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia 2012

Michael Falco’s work is continuously updated on his blog, the Civil War 150 Pinhole Project, and has officially been inducted into the National Archive at the Library of Congress.

The view from Little Round Top, Gettysburg Battlefield, Pa 2013

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