Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

SUPPORT THIS PROJECT: Retake Melbourne App

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In the opening paragraph of a review of John Elliott’s rephotography exhibition The Last Show and Re-shoot that was published in Art Monthly (#240 June 2011) I made the following comment:

Part of the mystique bestowed upon photography is the notion that a photograph captures a moment of time that enables a viewer to reconnect with or gain insights into the subject portrayed. Since its inception photographers have utilised photography’s inherent connection with time and place by reimaging the original subject days, months and years after the originating photographic ‘moment’. One notable re-photography project began in the 1970s by Mark Klett and his team in the United States with the Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project, and continues with the recent Third views, second sights: a rephotographic survey of the American West. These projects draw upon the concept that comparative images over time extend the narrative of the single image, and that the differences and similarities observed tell a larger story – that of time and change.

I am excited by rephotography projects and from the early 1980s I have undertaken many myself. Now I have encountered news of an exciting project in Melbourne that will make this specialised photographic activity available to anyone with a smart phone or imaging device . Entitled Retake Melbourne the project will do two significant things; firstly, it will create an APP where earlier photographs of Melbourne can be located and aligned for the contemporary photographer to image the exact same view; and secondly, the source images will be from the the Sate Library of Victoria’s extensive Mark Strizic photography collection.

The project is being ‘floated’ via Pozible crowd sourcing, and time is running out to ensure this project gets the support to make it happen. I would ask you to review the project details that follow – login to Pozible, and make a pledge to support this valid and innovative project.

Thanking You

Doug Spowart


Here are the details … From the POZIBLE Project page



Retake-Pozible Page


POZIBLE – Project Title: Retake Melbourne


We Melburnians jealously defend our city as the ‘most live-able’; a cultured grande dame with a creative dash, anti-establishment street art, a larrikin love of football and lots of delicious secrets. 

To participate in this project will be to illuminate and contrast her hidden past with her contemporary face.

Key to this is the mine of visual data in the State Library of Victoria’s collection, in particular immigrant Australian photographer Mark Strizic’s 5000 half-century-old negatives, colour transparencies and slides, acquired in 2007.


When associate Greg Neville saw this archive, he envisaged a repeat photography project based on Strizic’s images which would uncover the glorious Melbourne buildings of his childhood memories. 

We’d like to share this chance to retake Melbourne’s past. But re-photography is technically demanding. I realised that a mobile app would make the process accessible to everyone. 


Image: © Mark Strizic: Melbourne GPO, 1950s

Mobile App mockup: © Strizic image overlay enables user to compose their own version accurately

A finished ‘re-photograph’ accurately duplicating Strizic photograph angle of view

By tapping the ‘crowd’ we can include you in this project. Your images might become valuable records, as Strizic’s are now, to researchers in the still further future! They will compare your view with Mark’s to see how the city has changed. You can be in on the birth of Melbourne’s first comparative photographic research project.

But first we need the tech to do it; a photography app that contributors will be first to use!


Close associate of architects Robyn Boyd and David Saunders, Strizic’s love of architecture and his European eye provoked his condemnation of the ugliness he saw invading Australian city-scapes during the 1960s when architecture of the Gold Rush era coexisted with, and was being demolished for, Modernist curtain-glass high-rise office buildings.

LHS Image: © Mark Strizic: Russell Street Melbourne, 1950s

RHS image: Greg Neville: Russell Street Melbourne, 2013

Image: © Mark Strizic: Melbourne Museum and State Library, 1950s


By contributing to the development of our crowd-funded app, you will create the means to contribute accurate repeat photography of the locations of Strizic’s thirty-to-fifty year-old images of architecture, street-scenes and pedestrians, and to uncover the layers of history.

Historical and Creative results

Re-photography is studied and recognised for its value for historical, scientific, geographic, geologic and social science research; this use of crowd sourced material will be innovative.

Rather than being slavish copies of old photos, yours will be interpretations of Strizic’s originals which will build a picture of how a city has changed, and is in turn transforming us. There is a creative dimension in the ratio of interpretation to replication each contributor will employ in this process, that will add to value of their artefact. Their resultant contribution may be incorporated in the SLV online collection for comparison, by these and future researchers, with Strizic’s original.

The Mobile App: 

With this app, members of the public can find locations photographed by Strizic on a map, orient their device’s camera closely to the angle, orientation and framing that he used using a transparent overlay of his image, downloaded from the SLV online collection, over their screen image.

This app will simplify the repeat photography exercise and enable you to produce a comparative image which will match or contrast existing conditions and features with those in his original image.

Contribute to our shared archive:

The State Library of Victoria‘s huge archive opens up a rich resource for Victorians online; now that everyone can access it; they can also interact with it. This crowd-sourced project will give the archive more exposure and contribute new resources.

Provide a resource for future research:

The Strizic archive forms a reference for participants who will be asked to repeat the making of the images in the same location. In doing so they will record a contemporary street scene peopled with pedestrians who may regard, occupy and use the city of Melbourne in very different ways now.


Increase your own knowledge of Melbourne and Photography:

Part of the durable, interactive and updatable project outcomes is that participants will make a substantial contribution, they in turn will benefit from the exercise of finding the locations in coming to understand at first hand the operation of the forces of change on the city, the influences of crowd behaviour on the city, and its power to change us and our societal interactions. You too can become a ‘re-photographer’!

  1. What will your contribution do?

Level of funding sought: $6,000 – $10,000

A huge volume of photographic contributions will be required to enable worthwhile comparison of the old and new images to show how Melbourne’s buildings and streets have shaped, and are shaped by, its populace and its society. Achieving the necessary quantity and accuracy will require $6,000 base funding for the development and distribution of a mobile-device app.


$6000 will pay for six months of the developer’s time in building the app.

Researcher Dr James McArdle, will contribute $12,000 in-kind support; for research into the State Library collection and mapping of locations of Strizic images for GPS locator in the app.


*Reaching $10,000:

will enable us to map significantly more locations and to pinpoint the date/time of capture for more Strizic photographs as a guide to the re-photographers.

Twitter: JamesmMcArdle




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