Monsters attack Pittsburgh
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Matthew Buchholz's love affair with science fiction movies began at age 12 when he spent Friday nights munching goldfish crackers while watching classics like "Forbidden Planet," "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" and "The Thing."
"I loved the combination of space age idealism and the low-tech, low-budget aesthetic," Mr. Buchholz said.
His father, Bob, watched movies with him in their Tucson, Ariz., home and also joined his son on Saturday mornings to laugh at "Mystery Science Theater 3000," a television show that poked fun at the science-fiction genre.
Mr. Buchholz, 33, has combined his newfound interest in historic images of Pittsburgh, which he acquired after moving here in 2008, with his abiding passion for science fiction. His free exhibition is called "Alternate Histories: Pittsburgh."
The show, which runs through the end of September, opens Friday with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at a Lawrenceville gift shop called WildCard, located at 4209 Butler St.
Using the computer software Adobe Photoshop, Mr. Buchholz inserted well-known science-fiction characters into historic Pittsburgh scenes. He loves the city's beautiful old buildings, and, after reading David Nasaw's biography of Andrew Carnegie, became interested in images of Pittsburgh from earlier eras.
One of the images in the show is an 1876 engraved print of Pittsburgh and Allegheny, which then were two separate cities. He inserted a monster who is lumbering out of Downtown, heading toward the East End. Mr. Buchholz also added the caption, "An Unusual Happenstance."
"The tricky part is to make the monster look like he's part of the engraving," Mr. Buchholz said, adding that he used cross-hatching, filtering and blurring to achieve that effect.
Another result of the mash-up is that people standing on the Monongahela River bank now look as if they are watching this combination of Godzilla and Tyrannosaurus Rex head for dinner at Il Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville or the bars in Shadyside, depending on his monster mood.
An image of a bearded, older Henry Clay Frick shows the steel tycoon wearing a head dome from a World War II bomber plane. Inside the head dome is an old adding machine. The visual trick emphasizes the uncompromising businessman's unwavering devotion to the bottom line.
A student of image and film, Mr. Buchholz earned a bachelor's degree in film and television production from New York University's Tisch School of Arts in 1998.
As a student, he made a film called "Cinema Fantastique," which paired the music of Yola Tengo and Gnarls Barkley with footage from silent films so viewers would see the old movies in a new way.
He came to Pittsburgh in 2008 after finishing a seven-year stint managing Cinematek, the repertory film program at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, known as BAM, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
There, he met Serge Bromberg, a French film archivist, who presented a program of lost films that were discovered in a chest in a French farmhouse. One of the movies showed a dancer; each frame was hand-painted.
"It was like seeing an Impressionist painting come to life," Mr. Buchholz said.
That experience whetted his appetite for watching old, undiscovered films and doing research on historic images. Now, he's a frequent visitor to the Library of Congress website, www.loc.gov/pictures.
When he's not gazing at or trolling for images, he appreciates the talents of his wife, Rachel Lori, a chef. The couple live in Friendship.
First Published August 12, 2010 12:00 am