The 9/11 exhibit is pretty much all I’ve been working on lately. I’ve been keeping a to-do list and nearly everything’s crossed off. Tomorrow night we set up and Thursday morning the exhibit opens.
The past week I’ve been collecting videos from the newsroom (like this and this), working with an animator on the slideshows, checking in on the progress of the R&D department’s augmented reality experience, designing signage for everything from the display cases (“Do not lean on the display cases”) to contextual information for the Tribute in Light and Damon Winters photos and captions for the 9/11 relics our readers submitted to the paper. Most of the content in the exhibit goes live on or after Thursday 9/8.
During all of this our photo rights manager and project manager were double, triple and quadruple checking the photo credits with the newsroom and our database, which hasn’t always been accurate. Incredibly frustrating for everyone involved.
Over the weekend I read Frank Rich’s piece in New York Magazine about the stark difference between the America we thought we were going to have after 9/11 and the America we have today. It mentioned the “Falling Man” photo, which ran inside the NYTimes on 9/12 and was never published again. It’s an example of the sterilization of 9/11 and the lack of sacrifice we’ve all faced since then. “Go shopping,” Bush said. So I’ve decided to include this spread with a caption (we’re fact checking Frank Rich’s claim tomorrow before we write a caption for it). It’s hard to look at, but treating it as a “relic” (a newspaper spread) and putting it in the display case instead of enlarged and mounted on the wall accomplishes my goal of paying respect to the actual events of the day while not focusing on really disturbing imagery.
I’ve never been involved in a project this big before and with this much exposure. If I think too much about all the little details involved from the exhibit and various signage to the ad and the program people can pick up at the entrance to the lobby, it can get overwhelming really fast. But I started at a macro level and have worked my way down through the details over the past two months. Because of that I know the big things are all covered and all I have left are a few remaining pieces.
Tomorrow I’ll be planning the layout for the relics in the four display cases; captions and signage will be mounted; and I’ll be at The Times until probably 1 a.m. supervising the installation. I think this exhibit will be something The Times, its staff, its freelance photographers and hopefully New Yorkers will be proud of.