(By Robert Caley – As published in The Stereoscopic Society Journal No. 225.)
Like many others, I suspect that, if asked to describe 2020 in one word, I would choose unprecedented without hesitation. Lockdown in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of The Stereoscopic Society meetings scheduled for the remainder of the 2019/20 season and the annual convention in Harrogate which I had been very much looking forward to.
But it has not all been bad news. As physical doors closed, many doors into a virtual, online world opened thanks to Zoom, Webex and Google and the efforts of 3D enthusiasts around the globe. Society President Colin Metherill took the lead in setting up online meetings for members through a variety of platforms and a number of members have kindly taken over as hosts for what have become regular meetings.
Looking back now, I can hardly remember a week since late April when I’ve not attended at least one online 3D-related meeting. Despite initial widespread concerns about the security of some online meeting platforms, only one of the many meetings I’ve attended to date has been “porn bombed”. The organisers soon had the situation under control and set up an alternative meeting, taking heart from the fact that someone had regarded our meeting as being worth disrupting.
Armed with my trusty computer and alarm clock I’ve been able to attend 3D events organised around the world and enjoyed the opportunities to hear presentations by well-known experts. The good news for those of us in the UK who can’t face getting up in the small hours is that meetings and presentations are often recorded and can be enjoyed by a larger audience after the original event. Visit, for example, NYSA Presents! and Brooklyn Stereoscopic Community for a taste of what you have missed.
Many clubs now hold their meetings in Zoom, etc.. It is not uncommon for attendances at online meetings to be higher than those at previous face-to-face meetings and lockdown saw a notable innovation in the form of the first online-only stereoscopy club, the Brooklyn Stereoscopic Association (subsequently renamed the Brooklyn Stereoscopic Community) who hold fortnightly meetings and set out with a clear mission to “create a comfortable, inclusive environment and run the club in such a way that actively seeks and promotes diversity, inclusion and respect in its members, topics and presentations”.
Online meetings have given enthusiasts around the world opportunities to attend meetings without the cost of travel and accommodation and several have been tempted to give their first presentation and share their particular interests.
Highlights of the online meetings I attended include :
- NYSA Presents! organized by the New York Stereoscopic Association, where I first encountered the wonders of “fancyglyphs”.
- NSA Virtual Convention (3D-Con 2020) which was held online over a long weekend in August (the organisers did a remarkable job in recreating virtually several established features of previous conventions).
- Cosmic Clouds in 3D: where stars are born The online launch event for the book co-authored by Brian May, David J. Eicher and J-P Metsävainio (the images were truly out of this world).
- Civil War 3D photography a talk by Bob Zeller delivered at the LA3D Club’s meeting in July 2020.
- Andrew J. Russell and the Westward Expansion in 3-D presentation at The Golden Gate Stereoscopic Society’s meeting.
- Celebration of Stereoscopic 3D Organised by an international team, this model event brought together photo historians, artists, curators, collectors, photo dealers and enthusiasts over two consecutive afternoons to hear presentations on a wide range of 3D-related topics. I can’t wait for the next one!
- Brooklyn Stereoscopic Community is a global online 3D community with regular talks by collectors and 3D photographers and artists.
Although I miss face-to-face meetings and the opportunities they allow for large screen projection, I’ve been impressed by how 3D enthusiasts have adapted during 2020 and can see virtual and hybrid meetings playing an important role in the future of The Stereoscopic Society and similar organisations around the world. Not only do they allow us access to a wider pool of presenters but they also open up meetings to a wider potential audience. As more and more existing members become confident using the major online meeting platforms, the challenge will be to attract new, younger members. The number of stereoscopic images displayed on platforms like Instagram suggests that there are lots of creative 3D enthusiasts out there.
Huge thanks to the many people whose efforts have allowed all the above events to happen.