May 4: Through the looking glass
a mixed reality exhibition

Listen to Alan Canfora, a survivor of the May 4 shootings, share his story as you explore a 3D scan of the physical site where the shootings occurred.

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. 
 

KSU Police Gas Mask

This gas mask was used by Kent State University police as they moved against protestors occupying a site of the May 4 shootings where the University intended new construction in 1977-78. This artifact is housed in the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives (May 4 Collection, Box 124).
 
 
 

Allison Krause's Alice in Wonderland

This copy of Alice in Wonderland, a popular book within 1960’s counter culture, belonged to Allison Krause, one of four protestors shot and killed on May 4, 1970. This artifact is housed in Alan Canfora’s private archive.
 
 
 

Gun Shell Casing

This gun shell casing was found on May 4, 1970. This artifact is housed in the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives (May 4 Collection, Box 124).
 
 
 

John Darnell's Camera

Using a press pass borrowed from his father’s paper, John Darnell closely followed the national guard as they marched towards the pagoda from which the 67 shots were fired. With this camera he captured the moment when 29 guardsmen turned and fired at the students below. This artifact is housed in the Kent State University May 4 Visitors Center.
 
 
 

Lantern Used in Candlelight Vigil

Since 1971, students, faculty and others have gathered at 11 p.m. on May 3 to be part of a candlelight procession around the perimeter of campus. This undated lantern was used in one of these vigils. This artifact is housed in the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives (May 4 Collection, Box 124A).
 
 
 

Our Partners

 

KSU Special Collections and Archives Logo
   

Alan Canfora's Jacket

Alan Canfora was wearing this jacket on May 4, 1970, when he was shot in his right wrist. The bullet hole remains visible. Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection (H 52949).
 
 
 
 

Spent Tear Gas Cartridge

In the hours and days leading up to the May 4 shootings, the Ohio National Guard fired tear gas at student protesters. This artifact is housed in the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives (May 4 Collection, Box 124A).
 
 
 

Allison Krause's Powder Puff

This powder puff belonged to Allison Krause, one of four protestors shot and killed on May 4, 1970, and was found in her dorm room after her death. This artifact is housed in Alan Canfora’s private archive.
 
 
 

Dean Kahler's Shirt

Dean Kahler was wearing this shirt when he was shot on May 4, 1970. He survived his spinal injury, but was permanently paralyzed as a result. The bullet hole remains visible on the backside of the shirt. This artifact is housed in the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives (May 4 Collection, Box 124C).
 
 
 

Terry Strubbe's Tape Recorder

Terry Strubbe's tape recorder, running on the windowsill of his room in Johnson Hall on May 4, 1970, captured the only known uninterrupted recording of all 67 shots fired by the Ohio National Guardsmen. This artifact is housed in the Kent State University May 4 Visitors Center.