Board Roads of Selawik

Gigapan: Ella Derbyshire


While putting together this edition of the Gigapan Magazine I examined many images of streets and communities throughout the world. This caused me to think about what I value the most in my own community of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. It is a small town nearby to Pittsburgh. It was established in the late 1700's, which was too early for it to be considered a true suburb.

Though Pittsburgh grew and the town eventually became a bedroom community for Pittsburgh, the village comes with a culture all its own. The community has everything we need: A grocery store that sells organic produce and a deli and a butcher who pride themselves on having the best cuts and selection for their customers. A hardware store where all the clerks know my name. They understand and truly care about my projects whether they are for my home or for an art project. We also have a tavern with great food. The bartender is a beer nut and stocks many local and craft beers. There is also diverse selection of ethnic restaurants from which to choose. A bonus is a bike trail head that with enough riding time would lead me to Washington DC virtually uninterrupted.

Why do I say all this about my community? Well, you have to live somewhere and you might as well like it. If you don't like it, you'll need to get active and make positive changes to your community and make it more livable. If activism isn't your bag, then you'll need to adapt to your community as it exists. Evidence of these three mode can be seen directly in the Gigapan images chosen.

Included in this edition are images produced by two of my former students, Andrew Weier and Sarah Devine. Andrew hails from rural Ohio and Sarah from Central Pennsylvania. Andrew photographed a main street in his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh. He noticed that Pittsburgh's neighborhoods contained many ethnic, specialty food stores and shops. It was a realization that a vibrant community begins with food. If you have people meeting purposefully or accidentally to eat and buy food together inevitably a community is born. Sarah took the Gigapan back to her hometown of Johnstown, Pa. She mentions that the town only seems to be famous for its floods, however it is the city's Central Park that brings the community together for food and music.

In many of the other images I looked for ways that a community is loved, is undergoing a rebirth or is adaptable, like Venice, Italy or Selawik, Alaska. I looked for authenticity in a community, something identifiable. I also acknowledged that all communities aren't created equal and there are many larger factors that control how a community evolves or devolves as is the case with Midway, Texas. This image, dark and rainy, exemplifies the feeling one must get when they leave the high speed interstate for a detour through the sullen village clearly affected by larger economic conditions outside of its control.

Compare Midway with main street of Disney World, a manufactured place, a created stereotype of what an American main street "should" be where everything is manicured and perfect. Main streets are more than a collection of shops or restaurants. They are a reflection of the people who visit them. They are eclectic and different. The uniqueness they bring to your life should be embraced and supported as an asset to one's quality of life.

Guest Editors

Christopher Rolinson discovered his passion for photography in 1996 at Slippery Rock University after a tour of duty in the US Army.

Upon graduation in 2000, Rolinson practiced photojournalism at the Steubenville, Ohio Herald-Star. There, Rolinson documented day-to-day life in the sometimes gritty communities situated along the upper Ohio River Valley.

In 2001 Rolinson documented the war ravaged Former Yugoslav Republic of Kosovo. The subsequent work was published in the Herald-Star. This endeavor emboldened Rolinson's passion for the history of conflict, culture and conquest in Eastern Europe. He has since returned to the region two more times to document and understand the diverse cultures of the Slovak Republic.

In 2004 Rolinson began the ambitious project of documenting Pennsylvania's state parks and wild places. He challenged the stereotype that Pennsylvania was a rusting industrial region, but due to its geography, contains numerous wild places. It was his quest to increase awareness and participation in the appreciation and preservation of Pennsylvania's remaining wildernesses. The compilation, Our State Parks, was published in 2009. Since 2008, the collective works have existed as a traveling exhibition that continue to be shown in numerous venues throughout western Pennsylvania.

In 2005, Rolinson was a U.S. National Parks Service Artist-in-Residence at Amistad National Recreation Area in Del Rio, Texas. There, he documented the hard-scrambled landscapes and culture of the desert border region. Also, while in residence, he created a youth photography program which provided cameras to local children as a way to record the beautiful, personal and ironic images of where they live. His most recent expedition was an exploration of Alaska's interior region.

Rolinson began experimenting with Gigapan imaging in 2008. He is researching and experimenting with methods to further develop functional non-linear interactive documentary and photojournalistic gigapixel photography. With his research, he hopes to prove that gigapixel images offer potential for increased interactivity between the viewer and the story. He is currently a contributing editor to Gigapan Magazine.

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