IMG_0267

Part 1: A Cirkut Panoramic Camera and the Photographer Who Owned It

This story follows the Museum’s recent acquisition of a Cirkut Panoramic Camera. It will be told in five parts with the collaboration of Karen Ball-Pyatt, Grace Schmidt Room of Local History, Kitchener Public Library. Together we will trace some of the camera’s history, the photographer who first used it, the Great War, and Canadian contributions to the development of panoramic photography.

Cirkut Panoramic Camera Outfit Century 46, No. 8 Century Camera Division, Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y. ca. 1908-15 Artifact no. 2013.0126

Cirkut Panoramic Camera Outfit
Century 46, No. 8
Century Camera Division,
Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y.
ca. 1908-1915
Artifact no. 2013.0126

 

The format will be a five part series of short blogs. I will begin Part 1, while Karen will pick up Part 2 next week on her Historically Speaking blog. We will alternate weekly thereafter, and share what we know about the camera and the photographer.

 

We may raise more questions than answers, so we encourage readers to contribute. Who knows, perhaps we will make some discoveries along the way?

 

This Cirkut Panoramic Camera Outfit was manufactured by the Century Camera Division of Eastman Kodak Co. of Rochester between 1908 and 1915. The camera outfit was used by Ernest Denton (1883-1957), a well-known photographer in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and owner of the Denton Photo Studio (1913-1955) in what was then Berlin, Ontario. The camera remained in use throughout Denton’s career until mid-1950’s, when it was sold to Al Pirak, and then to Dolf Bogad in the 1970’s. The ownership history of the camera outfit is therefore (to the best of our knowledge) unbroken; from Denton, to Pirak, to Bogad, and now in the Museum’s collection. Al Pirak actually last used the camera in 1961 to take a panoramic photograph of the Kitchener-Waterloo Real Estate Board Summer Picnic (Grace Schmidt Room of Local History collection, Kitchener Public Library).

Mr. Nassau stands behind a fully assembled Cirkut camera. This one however was manufactured by the Folmer and Schwing Division of Eastman Kodak. Some interesting history on Century Cameras, Folmer and Schwing, and Eastman Kodak will be touched upon in Part 3.

Mr. Nassau stands behind a fully assembled Cirkut camera. This one however was manufactured by the Folmer and Schwing Division of Eastman Kodak. Some interesting history on Century Cameras, Folmer and Schwing, and Eastman Kodak will be touched upon in Part 3.

 

What is panoramic photography? It is a technique used for capturing wide and uninterrupted views of a landscape or a scene on one single exposure. Improvements in film technology from the first Daguerrotype panoramas in the early 1840’s to flexible rolled film in the late 1880’s made it possible for inventors to capture 360o degree images from one exposure. Panoramic photography became popular in the late nineteenth century when manufacturers combined rolled film with a mechanism that rotated a camera about the optical axis of a lens. A few Canadian innovations brought the system to perfection. The result of these innovations was the ability to capture wide and elongated scenes on film and photos up to eight feet long that exceed the human eye’s field of view. Contributions to the development of panoramic photography by J.R. Connon, W.J. Johnston will be covered in Part 5.

 

 

The connection that brought this Cirkut camera to the Museum was through Mr. Wilhem Nassau, an expert on the history of photography who has had a long-standing relationship with this Museum. He established the Wilfrid Laurier University teaching collection in the 1970’s which was eventually donated to the Museum in 1981, increasing our camera collection significantly. Fast forward to June 2013 and a visit from Willie to Ottawa to show Mr. Bogad’s Cirkut Camera Outfit, and share with us some of its rich history. The camera belonged to Bogad, who lives not far from Willie in Kitchener-Waterloo, and so began our research on its provenance, authenticity, and eventual acquisition.

 

The complete panoramic camera outfit is genuine in every part. The camera, a Century Cirkut No. 8 is worn in the usual spots where one would expect, even the carrying case looks well-travelled, revealing many stories hidden in the 100 year history of this artifact. The date of manufacture, the time when Denton began his studio, even the relative proximity of Berlin, Ontario to Rochester, N.Y. and ownership speaks to the cameras’ authenticity. It changed hands a few times, from Denton’s studio, to (unknown), to Pirak Studio, and then Mr. Bogad of Forde Studio who recognized its value, and would eventually donate the camera to the Museum.

 

I first saw the camera in 1960, and later bought it from Al Pirak in the early 1970’s because of its uniqueness, Denton’s work, and the historical importance of his panoramic photographs.
~ Dolph Bogad

 

When the Museum acquired the camera, the missing link to the whole story were the photos. Making the connection between Denton’s Cirkut Panoramic Camera Outfit and the photos he took would make for an interesting story to tell. Is the story authentic? Did any photos survive? If so, where were they? The search eventually led me to the Grace Schmidt Room of Local History at the Kitchener Public Library.

 

After several emails and discussions with Karen in the Spring of 2014, it turned out the Grace Schmidt Room had in fact some of Denton’s work in their collections. But were they panoramas? A few days later I received from Karen a very nice thumbnail of a military panorama, signed Denton. Wow! In their archives were found over 24 Denton panoramic photos.

 

This physical evidence certainly added a new dimension to the camera. The when and the how this Cirkut Panoramic Camera was used began to emerge. It was 1916 when a 31 year old Ernest Denton would have photographed regiments of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. With the discovery last Summer, on the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War-1, the camera began to reveal its history. Regimental photographs of young soldiers prior to their departure for overseas fighting, company and church picnics, family reunions, city views, and police and fire departments. A great reason to reach out, connect and collaborate on a blog. 

 

A note on authenticity: As with many historical objects, we cannot say with absolute certainty this was the camera that took the Denton panoramic photographs. The evidence found to date (Winter 2015) however does strongly support the case. The camera, photographer, photos, and their geographic setting are all linked in time. They combine with an almost unbroken chain of ownership that point to the cameras’ link to the photos. New evidence uncovered in the Fall 2015 now suggests a much stronger link to Denton and proves this camera outfit took the panoramic photographs in the Kitchener Public Library collections – the last remaining panoramic found this past Summer was taken by Al Pirak using this camera.
IMG_0270

 View additional photos of the Cirkut camera HERE.

To see some of Denton’s panoramas, come back next Wednesday for Part 2 on Historically Speaking.


Read more

DSCN1646

Cultural Open Data: Mash Up the Past, Explore the Future

Q: What do a thresher, a locomotive and a space sled have in common?

A: They’re all a part of Canada’s national science and technology collection, available to download on the Government of Canada’s Open Data Portal.

Our three national museums, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Science and Technology Museum released our first open data sets on the Government of Canada’s Open Data Portal in November of last year. With the second annual Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) Hackathon fast approaching, the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation is looking forward to seeing the creative, surprising ways coders across the country will mash up data sets to create useful applications for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Museums have an important role to play in the open data sphere. As stewards of our shared cultural, technological, and scientific heritage, national museums have a duty to ensure their collections are accessible to Canadians from coast to coast to coast. By opening up our collection of more than 100,000 artifacts highlighting Canada’s achievements in science, technology and engineering, our Museums are excited to work with coders, researchers, universities, colleges, businesses, and communities to develop useful and interesting apps for all Canadians.

We encourage developers across the country to have some fun with this unique collection. The data sets cover everything from planes and trains, to tractors and toasters. Each object has more than 80 data fields, including images of the artifact. Already, coders have accessed our data sets to create new search portals for the Museums’ collections, as demonstrated by the Collections Explorer, created by independent coder An-Min Kuo of the Blue Factor consulting group. Moreover, history students in collaboration with Digital Humanities at the University of Ottawa are working with the museum to mine the collection data, producing a student exhibit on the History of Exploration and Surveying in Canada.

The release of open data has also made an impact within our museums. It represents a significant step forward in digital culture and “thinking digital”. It also serves as a base for new museum projects that are already in the works.

As you may have heard, the Canada Science and Technology Museum has recently been closed for extensive repairs. The physical building may be closed, but the museum is active across the county, and these data sets and their many uses help to open up our extensive collection of fascinating artifacts and to facilitate new forms of digital engagement for more Canadians than ever before.

Open Data opens up uncharted opportunities for our country. Our three Museums are excited to be part of the movement, and to be participating in the CODE Hackathon this week. We look forward to working with creative people to discover new and fascinating applications for open data. The possibilities are endless!

By Brian Dawson

David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

A Community of Support through the ‘Click’ of a Nose

Starting in 2012, curatorial staff at CSTMC began a five year project of collecting ‘new technologies’. We assigned a different theme to each of the five years with the underlying goal of reflecting 21st century Canadian life. For 2014, my colleagues and I set about collecting technologies that related to building families and creating communities. Given the scope of the histories we collect, ‘community’ can be defined quite broadly and in a myriad of ways. For me, however, this idea of community as a support group is best represented in a current collecting opportunity, a 2012 laptop, camera and software program called Nouse. Anita Scott-Harrison, a patient at the Bruyère Continuing Care facility here in Ottawa, had been the first person to test this system:

“When I became paralyzed two years ago, people found it hard to come and visit. (…) I missed speaking with my family and friends. (…) Two persons, a laptop, and new software called Nouse helped turn things around for me. Hillary, my occupational therapist, who thankfully noticed that I was regaining a little bit of head movement, enough to use Nouse. Bill, my volunteer here at Saint Vincent’s, ever so kind and considerate. Bill was in my room one day, listening as Hillary described what would be required. I would need a laptop, the Nouse software, a Wifi account, and email account pre-initialized with my contacts. We would also need to know how to position the laptop when I wanted to use it. Clearly, Hillary would have her work cut out for her! With no hesitation at all, Bill volunteered to add another day to his visits, provided me with a laptop and Nouse, which he installed (and customized) for me.” [1]

 

David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

This quote was taken from a testimonial that Anita wrote about her use and experience with the perceptual vision technology called Nouse, or Nose as Mouse, that enables vision-based, hands-free interaction with a computer. The system takes a video sequence as an input, and splits it into the channels corresponding to the motion, colour and intensity components of video. The system begins by performing face segmentation and detection tasks which enables the software to estimate where the face is in the video. Once a face has been detected, the user is required to manually choose the features that he/she wants to be tracked. This is called ‘stereo-tracking’ and the software makes use of the convex-shape of the nose in order to allow 3D face-tracking with the aid of an ordinary web-camera.

The Nouse Cursor is similar to the standard mouse arrow.

The Nouse Cursor is similar to the standard mouse arrow.

Dr. Dmitry Gorodnichy developed the Nouse technology at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). In 2007 Dr. Gorodnichy founded a company called IVIM Inc. and licensed the Nouse technology from NRC, with the intension to further develop Nouse. This technology has also been approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Care Assistive Devices Program. The research and innovation inherent in the development of Nouse, as well as its applications and intended audience, makes this piece a welcome addition to the existing collection of assistive technologies at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Clicking with the Nouse software is performed with the assistance of a timer.

Clicking with the Nouse software is performed with the assistance of a timer.

What excites me most about this acquisition, however, is that its history of use and adaptation represents a unique community of care and support. Anita, the donor, became paralyzed in 2012 and moved to Bruyère Continuing Care in Ottawa, Ontario. The Bruyère Research Institute, a partnership of Bruyère Continuing Care and the University of Ottawa, has been a key partner in assisting with the development of Nouse. Anita started using Nouse in 2014 with the support of her occupational therapist, hospital volunteer, family members, and staff from IVIM Inc. These varying expertise and types of knowledge were collectively necessary in making Anita’s use of this software a success. Without each member of this community of support, different elements of her adoption of Nouse would not have been possible.

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks to Anita for having shared her story. Through it we recognize and admire her strength and determination. I would also like to thank David Bissessar for his efforts and dedication to Nouse and for his invaluable support during the Museum’s acquisition process.

Sources:

Anita Scott-Harrison’s Testimonial, http://www.nouse.ca/en/testimonial.php

Nose as Mouse: Assistive Technology, http://www.nouse.ca/

[1] Anita Scott-Harrison’s Testimonial, http://www.nouse.ca/en/testimonial.php (accessed 23/09/2014). This testimonial was written with Nouse.