To commemorate this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Monday, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in Lower Manhattan, has commissioned a series of black-and-white photographic portraits of some 30 Holocaust survivors, called “Eyewitness,” that it is displaying in the ground-, second- and third-floor windows on the facade of its building on Battery Place.
The trend dates back centuries: to 18th-century “son et lumière” shows and fireworks spectacles with wall-like sets in Europe, according to Erkki Huhtamo, a professor in the department of design media arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. These were followed in the 19th century by outdoor projections done with a magic-lantern slide projector. Today’s technology includes projection mapping techniques that can display images and animations on a surface that is not flat or white.
Even before the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, opened, it projected a seven-minute video on its facade, depicting milestones in black history to celebrate completion of its exterior construction.
Michael S. Glickman, the president and chief executive of the Museum of Jewish Heritage — whose survivor portraits, by the photographer B. A. Van Sise, have been digitally reproduced on vinyl and measure as much as 5 feet wide and 13 feet high — said this series represents the museum’s desire “to be a fully acceptable site of public testimony, to hear the stories, meet the people, get a more intense, more meaningful, more impactful connection to history.”
One Holocaust survivor whose portrait is on display, Frederick Terna, a 93-year-old Brooklyn artist who spent his childhood in Prague and speaks to groups of teachers at the museum, said, “It is my function to be a communicator about what happened,” adding, “If you believe in something, you must act on it.”
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