About Moving Archives

Moving Archives is a film series by Brian Foo that immerses you in the patterns, rhythms, and textures embedded within thousands of hours of footage from public moving image archives.


Although there are numerous publicly available moving image archives, in many cases it would take years of continuous viewing for an individual scratch the surface of a single archive. Moving Archives does not attempt to make sense of the contents of a given archive. Rather, by using custom computer algorithms that analyze and organize sonic patterns, the resulting films immerse the viewer in a massive mosaic of sounds and images that reveal the underlying forms, textures, and atmospheres of the source materials.

How did this project come about?

I have worked in cultural institutions for the past 7 years, specializing in the visualization of large collections of media for the public. I am currently a data visualization artist at the American Museum of Natural History and previously worked at the New York Public Library developing ways to make the Library’s materials more accessible to the public in the Internet Age.

This film is part of (and a result of) a long series of personal and professional investigations into visualizing public archives and collections. The idea started with a humble appreciation for the sheer scale of many moving image archives and my desire to understand what they contain. I also focused on public archives with the goal to understand the scope and nature of the cultural artifacts we collectively own and can use to create new things (mostly) without restriction. I hope the greater impact of these films would be to give the audience an awareness and appreciation for public resources and institutions.

What is your methodology?

Visit my methodology page for in-depth detail for how these films are created.

What archives and collections have you used?

I generally try to use archives and collections that are in the public domain and available to view online without restriction. Visit each page for more details about each collection and what was used:

What license do you release your work under?

All work on this website is under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. Please email me at hello@brianfoo.com for commercial uses.

Is your code available to use?

All of the films in this series are generated completely from custom code that has been released open source to the public. There is extensive documentation in the code repository.

I have a collection you might be interested in

I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to reach out at hello@brianfoo.com