‘Windows to the Past’ Photography Project by Kerényi Zoltán
Photography, of all artistic media, has a tremendous capacity to not only relay a moment but to record it. Its power often such that we feel it can contain, magic like, entire scenes from the past in mere polaroid and film. Unlike the interpretative gloss of an image that is contained in each brush stroke of a painting or moulding of a sculpture’s clay, photographs are often seen as honest, unaltered recordings of the moment; as much art as artefact.
Against other art forms, the photograph can feel like a black box of memory; rather reduced to a little coloured rectangle in the palm of one’s hand.
The ability of photography to tap into our histories and evoke memories is precisely what is celebrated by Hungarian photographer Kerényi Zoltán in this series entitled, ‘Windows to the Past’. Kerényi takes old fashioned photographs from the era in which photography was only just becoming a popular medium. He then hunts down the same scene in the present day and takes a second photograph, upon which he then imposes the vintage image.
The process requires tremendous research through photographic archives and an immensely precise hand in taking the new image at the precise location.
The result is an eerie mesh of past and present; an uncomfortable hybrid.
On one level the continuation between the images provides some comfort as we consider how life goes on. Whilst certain individuals do not last, the same spirit of longing in a door way, or promenading on a beach are part of human nature that continues from generation to generation. Suddenly the differences between Edwardian ladies and a twenty first century couple do not seem so stark when we see both sets enjoying a stroll at the sea front.
However, the images bring with them a sense of futility of human action too. We realise that we are mere temporary actors in an ongoing stage set; soon to be replaced by another cast with the next generation.