Ireland 1848

Published in 1848 Rebellion, 18th–19th - Century History, Issue 1 (Spring 1997), News, The Famine, Volume 5

It has been noted as a case of historical negligence that no photographs were taken of the Great Irish Famine even though early photographers had the means. Those given to conspiracy theories suggest that photographs of the starving and the dead were taken but were such an affront to Victorian sensibilities and Britain’s standing in the world that they were suppressed.
Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that the effect of photographic reportage of the Irish famine would have been on a scale similar to today’s TV reports covering famine in Africa or other disasters in the developing world. Many journalists’ eye-witness reports from the Ireland of the 1840s, describing scenes familiar to today’s TV viewers, were often lambasted by influential commentators in the columns and letters pages of The Times and other English newspapers as being wild, fantastic and sensationalist.
Ireland 1848, a ten-minute film directed by Stephen Woods, attempts to re-create what a mid nineteenth century film might have looked like. All scenes were shot as live action but with a stills camera with motor drive. The resulting prints were photo-copied several times for a high contrast and varied exposure effects. The photo-copies were then animated using a rostrum camera.
    Video copies are available through Stephen Woods, tel: (01) 8302527.

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