Connecting Cultures Through the Split Imagery of Film Swaps

Each person has their own built-in photographic settings. The things we loved growing up, the traditions we grew accustomed to, the landmarks we see ever so often, and many other subjects that we gravitate towards – these stem from our culture, which shapes the uniqueness of our art more than we realize. We don’t always see the world as it is but as it has been presented to us, and that’s why it’s important to widen our perspectives and ask, what would the world look like through someone else’s eyes?

Credits: erdalito, dnstuff, lomoemy, klive0420, jetnge, deansupertramp & makethisadouble

Film swaps

Though there may not be a perfect answer, film swaps come pretty close. Simply put, a film swap is when two or more people share one film roll, resulting in fun and outstanding double or multiple exposures! It can be done with fellow Lomographers nearby or from the other side of the world. Either way, it’s a glimpse into somebody else’s life, interests, culture, and values in photography and beyond.

Expanding our worldview does not require us to physically go anywhere. There’s no denying that traveling is a great opportunity and privilege, but staying where we are does not have to limit the new angles in which we can discover the world. Film swaps help us connect with cultures we may have never thought of learning about, and bring us closer to film enthusiasts from anywhere and everywhere.

Credits: klive0420, erdalito, ksears119, dnstuff & enlomarte

Lomographers participating in a film swap can decide on a theme, camera settings, and other factors to make the results cohesive, but randomness is just as exciting! There are so many ideas that you can try and learn from other artistic practices, such as graphic designer Henry Steiner’s approach to cross-cultural graphic design.

Split imagery

Henry Steiner draws on a multitude of cultures, as he grew up in Europe, studied in America, and now lives and works in Asia. This translates into his creations which are visual intersections of Eastern and Western concepts. One of his signature styles that can be incorporated in film swaps is the concept of split imagery.

In this technique, Henry Steiner forms a new image by taking distinctive subjects from various cultures and juxtaposing them, making their similarities rise above their differences. The cultures' respective identities are maintained; they are connected to complement each other, not designed to simply disappear. An example would be the 2008 Hong Kong Vienna Opera Ball poster designed by Henry Steiner himself, which can also be found in a special edition of the Lomo’Instant Automat.

© Henry Steiner

The recontextualization of iconic cultural symbols creates a uniquely balanced dynamic that resonates with people from contrasting walks of life. It reinstates the idea that, though we have our cultural differences, we speak the same language of art and emotion. Aside from making us feel seen, split imagery also stimulates genuine curiosity about others.

This could be applied to film swaps with the help of a Splitzer – it is also not meant to divide or separate the cultures of the participants or the audience, but it serves a purpose of showing that we all fit right in and merge beautifully no matter where we come from.

Credits: blueskyandhardrock, dabai & fotobes

How to begin?

This long-standing Lomography practice may sound intimidating at first. You might feel worried about wasting shots or ruining the pictures, but there’s no such thing. All you have to do is start, and witness your world view transform. The Earth is big and it may feel as if there’s not enough time, energy or resources to explore it, but with art and photography, every place starts to feel a little more within reach.

If you’ve tried a film swap, how was your experience? If you haven’t, is it something you’re open to? Maybe you can find a film swap partner through Lomography!

written by kylavillena on 2024-06-27 #gear #culture #splitzer #film-swap #lomo-instant-automat #henry-steiner

More Interesting Articles