About May 4: Through the Looking Glass

May 4: Through the Looking Glass is an immersive and interactive experience that seeks to open up new spaces for thinking and feeling the profound legacies of May 4, 1970, during which the Ohio National Guard occupied Kent State’s campus and fired 67 shots into a crowd of students protesting President Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia, killing four and injuring nine. 

From the perspective of today’s global political landscape, in which governments are shifting away from democratic principles and veering dangerously towards authoritarianism, Through the Looking Glass provides viewers with a new perspective from which to consider the histories, memories and lived experiences of those who became the victims of state violence as a result of their courageous willingness to speak truth to power.

Made in collaboration with Alan Canfora, a Kent State student protestor who survived the shootings, along with the Department of Special Collections and Archives at Kent State University, Kent State’s May 4 Visitor Center, and Ohio History Connection, Through the Looking Glass leverages emerging technologies to create new modes of engagement with local and regional archives.

The project deploys 3D scanning technologies, immersive multi-channel video installation and augmented reality to offer viewers a different perspective from which to grapple with the May 4 shootings. The project features virtual artifacts pertaining to May 4 and its aftermath, a 3D scan of the site where the shootings occurred, and excerpts from an audio interview with Alan Canfora, who survived the shootings. May 4: Through the Looking Glass premiered in December of 2019 at Kent State University’s MuseLab. This website translates the immersive, physical experience of the exhibition into an accessible online format. To see images from that exhibition, please visit our flickr page.

May 4: Through the Looking Glass was created in the College of Communication and Information at Kent State University, in the context of a capstone course in the School of Emerging Media and Technology. The project was led by Assistant Professor Abraham Avnisan. Sound was designed by Ian Hatcher. Participating students included Norah Aljebreen, Nate Cannon, Jiewen Feng, Elliott Frankhouse, Nikola Grimlitza, Dennis Kalantarov, Sare MacPherson, Zach Miller, Julia Morales, Rod Nabavi, Jack Palumbo, Lucas Porcelli, Stev Stotlar, Lonché Thrash II, Jake Weidokal, and Joy White-Latimore.