El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, Santa Barbara, California
1918: A Remembrance. On the front of The Santa Barbara Presidio
Photo by Jonathan PJ Smith

1918: A Remembrance

The main movie on the chapel was made using original footage from WW1, most of it created by the US Signal Corps. In a little over 5 minutes, it visually told of America’s declaration of war, the recruitment and training of soldiers, their journey to Europe and the frontline, and their inculcation into the brutal reality of war. The last fifth of the movie detailed the joy felt at the arrival of peace. Sound and music were added to the original silent movies to heighten tension and help move along the storyline.

The Content and Layout

On the walls to the left and right of the Chapel, we presented five other movies. These were all designed to support the main movie and each other. One told the tale of WW1 through editorial cartoons from American newspapers and periodicals. Another was comprised entirely of patriotic posters, urging citizens to enlist, buy war bonds, volunteer their time, save food, and so on. Perhaps the most poignant, from a local perspective, was the movie of short obituaries of 28 soldiers from Santa Barbara County who died as a result of the war. It included, as possible, addresses where the enlistees had lived and relevant details about their lives, and brought home the consequences of war on an individual and understandable basis. A fourth movie showed art created by WW1 veterans, much of it brutally honest in its depth of emotion. The final video comprised a stereoview collection (two almost identical but slightly offset images placed side by side on a card that creates a 3D effect when viewed through a special viewer). These were reworked and projected at life-size from the point of view of the original photographer. Looking at them through red/blue lensed glasses was like going back in history.

Poppies Projected on the Ground

On the ground in front of El Presidio, we used five projectors to create a dynamic field of symbolic poppies that represented both the fallen soldiers and the living veterans residing in Santa Barbara County.

In particular, we’d like to thank the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, especially Anne Petersen and Kevin McGarry for allowing us to use El Presidio, for working with us to advertise the event, for logistic support, and for organizing the opening. Most of all we’d like to thank them for giving us free rein to create the type of imagery that best fits the theme.

The five movies that supported the main chapel movie: Editorial cartoons, posters, art, Santa Barbara soldiers, 3D imagery.
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