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Aspiring filmmaker turns room into museum


Published: Monday, November 28, 2005

Updated: Sunday, August 17, 2008 14:08

Most college students decorate their dorm rooms with pictures, posters, magazine ads, interesting newspaper articles or the occasional random item from Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond.

But for Tufts freshman Matthew Diamante, the inside of a dorm room is much more than a place to sleep, procrastinate, and procrastinate some more. Diamante's Hill Hall room features something that can't be purchased during the fall poster sale in front of the campus center: a rotating stereoscopy museum.

Stereoscopy, which means "stereo photography," was popular in the 1970s, when people used to go door-to-door selling the machines. But the stereoscopy Diamante dabbles in is a bit different. It involves the red plastic Fisher-Price View-Masters that were owned by many children (and children at heart) in the early '90s.

Three-dimensional slides of anything from Disney characters to views of the Grand Canyon are placed into the View-Master, and an orange switch is clicked to rotate through the images.

When people ask to see his museum, Diamante just hands them his View-Master, which contains a new image every week. He places a sign on his door to inform visitors of which image set is the current feature attraction.

Diamante's collection contains scenic pictures of different areas of the United States and Canada, from urban (San Francisco, New York City) to rural (Yosemite and Petrified Forest National Parks). Other slide subjects include the history of flight, the White House, the interior of George Washington's home in Mount Vernon and Civil War battlefields.

"3-D is making a comeback," Diamante says, going on to say that he thinks magazines should publish today's news in three-dimensional photographs.

"Time should release 3-D pictures of, say, Yushenko in Ukraine," he says. "Or Sports Illustrated should release 3-D pictures of the Red Sox winning the World Series."

Diamante's interest in 3-D is fairly recent. His parents live separately, so he "doesn't really have a said room at home." Though he attended boarding school for two years before coming to Tufts, Diamante didn't have a rotating museum in his room there.

But as he was digging through boxes at home at the beginning of the school year, he came across his old View-Master. Remembering recent 3-D spreads in National Geographic and three-dimensional motion pictures like "Chicken Little" and "The Polar Express," he started to search for 3-D images and View-Master slides on eBay.

Diamante believes that much of the interest in his rotating museum revolves around the mystery behind what the image will be each week.

"[This] is just for college, to spice things up," he says. And spice things up he has: Diamante says that though his Hill Hall rotating museum had a slow beginning, word is starting to get around.

Diamante says his biggest proponent is a friend who lives in Hodgdon. She viewed the museum and told others about it, spreading Diamante's visitor base further across campus. The freshman now gets many inquiries as to what the new image for the week is - or if they can see the View-Master.

"Guys were a bit more hostile at first, but now a lot of them knock on my door and ask to see it," he says.

Diamante plans on majoring in political science, his interest in photography, three-dimensional images, and film may seem random. The California native, however, has a strong interest in filmmaking and has even made a few short films of his own.

In high school, Diamante created an 11-minute film about 13th-century Vatican cardinals, as well as a six-minute humorous documentary of the Democratic National Convention.

According to Diamante, his "most interesting" film is probably one that features a friend of his who bears a resemblance to the character Gollum from "Lord of the Rings." Diamante cut out the "real" Gollum and inserted his friend in the character's place.

Moviemaking has always been Diamante's dream, and he even has a plan for how to market 3-D images and fuel interest in them throughout the Tufts community.

"If Tufts used 3-D images to advertise pictures of the Hill to sell to alumnae, it could be a great fundraising tool," he says.

But Diamante is managing his museum within the confines of his dorm room. It's 212 Hill Hall, for anyone who need a View-Master fix.

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