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Spinning Home Movies

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Best Time Machine

Spinning Home Movies

Photo: COURTESY OF SOUTH SIDE HOME MOVIE PROJECT

One effect of the lockdown has been the nostalgia we’re feeling for what used to be ordinary — dancing with strangers, going on family vacations, eating birthday cake with a dozen friends. The staff of the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life initiative felt that, too, and came up with Spinning Home Movies in response. Since April, local DJs (from DJ Cqqchifruit to Rae Chardonnay) have been creating soundtracks for reels of clips from the archives of the South Side Home Movie Project, a digital library of amateur slice-of-life movies from the 1930s through ’80s. The result is a dreamy mental escape, where people you don’t know are hanging out at block parties, sunbathing on cruise ships, and playing tennis, all to the accompaniment of mostly funk, house, and soul music. Put it on in the background (it’ll be livestreamed biweekly through the end of August) for an instant mood lift, but don’t be surprised if the ordinariness of it all fully absorbs your attention.

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