The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

In Phase: History, Place, Camaraderie Through Time-Based Media

Colgate University

What might Hamilton, N.Y., look like prior to the quintessential shops we know and love today? Senior Ellie Johnston takes us on a journey 100 years ago into the historic downtown through a sensory experience of sights and sounds in her film installation, “Hamilton: A Visual Odyssey.” This visual time capsule is featured in the Clifford Gallery’s new installation, “In Phase.” The installation debuted Tuesday, Feb. 27. It includes projects by film and media studies majors seniors Kieran Blunnie, John Cremins, Mary Grygier, Vuong Hoang, Ellie Johnston, Hunter Keller, Declan McIntosh, Bethany Neufeld, Izzy Olavarria and Jake Turtil.

Johnston’s project includes several visuals of downtown contrasted between then and now, as well as historic maps of the area. She also includes sounds present at the time, such as car horns and people. Johnston explained that her piece was inspired by a friend’s film for a class called “Sociology of Life.”

“I was captivated by the subject, a woman named Geni who has lived in Hamilton for decades, and her story,” Johnston said. “I began thinking about aging and life experiences as potential topics for my film, and I decided on exploring connection across generations.”

Johnston’s installation connects to her senior capstone film, which is centered around the idea of history and memory. Change and reflection are two more themes that are important to both her installation and capstone film.

“These themes, as well as the concept of change, are central to my installation, as it reflects the transformation of Hamilton over the last 100 years. A core aspect of my capstone is reflection — what it means to reflect on one’s life and choices,” Johnston said.

She elaborated on how the installation itself wasn’t short of challenging work and took a great deal of time and effort.

“The bulk of my work surrounding my installation was archival research. Sorting through files and identifying the images I wanted to use was the most time consuming part of the process,” Johnston said.

Fast forwarding in our history lies Bethany Neufeld’s installation, set in the late 1990’s. Neufeld presents an old-fashioned TV with a newsreel playing in the foreground, with projected images of newspapers with flashy covers of conspiracy theories in the background. This is surrounded by comfy seating. Neufeld explained the piece as a companion to their senior capstone film, which is a sci-fi mystery, and explained the main issue within the plot.

“A young couple and their Jeep go missing in 1997, so a group of three friends make it their goal to solve the mystery and do whatever is necessary to save their town,”  Neufeld said.

The installation directly connects to Neufeld’s senior capstone film.

“[My] piece is a manifestation of that, where you get to see [the friends’] workspace. I made a deconstructed set of the attic that they hang out in and are trying to solve the mystery in, which is why in my piece you see a lot of newspaper clippings about aliens, or cults and sketches of aliens,” Neufeld said.

Traveling forward in time, back to the present day and the future is senior Vuong Hoang’s project. Hoang’s capstone film is a narrative short about an international student in 2023 on a phone call with her American girlfriend in 2025. His installation, however, reflects a different topic from the others: film sets.

“When you work with people for 10-12 hours a day in the same space together for four to five days, taking smoke breaks in between takes, there’s a sense of camaraderie that forms between everyone. I wanted to create a space that represents that rugged romantic romance,” Hoang said.

His set features a large armchair and lamp with a garland of cigarettes strung above. It’s all set against a live-feed backdrop. Hoang recounted how the setup of this film set took creativity and hard work.

“Stringing up the fake cigarettes took a lot of time, too. There’s about 100 of them in the installation,” Hoang said. “Everyone in our class lost our minds by the time we got to opening, having spent like two thirds of all of our lives inside that gallery.”

While this exhibition ended on March 7, students are encouraged to visit the Clifford Gallery to appreciate other displays.

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