There was an interesting event in London last weekend, part of the Waste of the World research project, where I found out about a series of slideshows that are part of the project and can be found on YouTube here. They’re all slightly different in format; the one below, for example, occasionally has a text slide inserted among all the photographs, while others have captions on each image.
Watching them reminded me of another slideshow, made by Trond Waage, a visual anthropologist at the University of Tromso, called Struggle for a Living – you can see it here. This slideshow pushes more at what a slideshow can do. It has a soundtrack – a voice-over and some ambient sound – as well as a few simple zooms into still images. It also has a very powerful sense of rhythm, as the duration of the still images lengthens or shortens and the pace of the slideshow slows down or speeds up. This is very effective in conveying a sense of urban everyday spaces – in this case, the town of Ngaoundéré in Cameroon – and Trond says that the process of working with images was also an effective way to negotiate understanding between himself and the protagonist of the slideshow, Bakary.
As well as its visual content, then, it seems that its rhythm, its ability to incorporate text that can be read, and its soundtrack, are the distinctive features of a slideshow – a medium that’s worth more attention than it’s so far received, particularly for those of us who don’t have the time to hone our filmmaking skills but still want something more than the photo-essay format.