Distance and Scope
Among the examples of postcards that we have chosen to represent the 1904 and 1933 World's Fair events, one feature that immediately strikes us as interesting is the use of distance from the observed subjects. While both events have postcards that step backward away from the focal point objects--such as the various prominent buildings--the postcards from the Chicago 1933 World's Fair often make use of a far more distance vantage point. This can be seen as particularly true in the case of postcards that include the representations of people. Whereas illustrations from 1904 often make individuals a prominent aspect of the image, the 1933 postcards significantly diminish the impact of individual humans by viewing the scene from a significantly more distant vantage point. Often, people are represented as little more than specks in the 1933 images, devoid of significant detail. And while the illustrations from St. Louis are also sometimes indistinct, it is still possible to make out details of the attire being worn by the subjects of the illustration.
Rather than being rendered as colorless blobs, the interaction of individual and object seems more central to the St. Louis images. The interaction of human and monument is central and the postcards show off the lively nature of the events. Meanwhile, the Chicago illustrations diminish the importance of individual. In these representations, the physical features of the fair take on a more central meaning. The scenes are rendered sterilized and orderly--pure and pristine visages of the scientific positivism that seems to have shaped the very structures of the fair. Where St. Louis hearkens back to an architecture reminiscent of Western European history, Chicago looks to the future with designs that look startlingly modern and logical. It might be noted that while the 1904 fair looked to capture the spirit of a past age with its regal appearance, the 1933 event prefers to look wholly to the future for inspiration and guidance--a future that prefers the clean and precise measurements of science over the humanistic zeal of the St. Louis fair.