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The power of Arthur Mole’s military living photographs

Arthur Mole has one of those comically unassuming names (a sort of adult version of Adrian Mole), and when he appeared on the US game show I’ve Got A Secret in 1962 he lived up to the stereotype: neat, nervous, monosyllabic, surprised to be appearing on national television. He looked as though he’d been selling insurance all his life.

Mole was 73 at the time, and living in retirement in Florida. He had been out of the public eye for 40 years, but the panel unearthed his secret with surprising ease once they’d been given a brief glimpse of a photograph of Woodrow Wilson he’d taken in 1918. This was no ordinary photograph of the US’s president during the first world war: it was an image composed of 21,000 soldiers assembled by Mole and his photographic partner John Thomas at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio. They were the raw material from which Mole created what he called a “living photograph” – one of more than 30 he took after the US entered the war in 1917… read more >

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