A huge thanks to all 178 people who took part in the photobook survey I have conducted over the last few months some fantastic responses have come through and a number of interesting trends are presenting themselves. I will look to publish some results in the future but for now my gratitude for so many spending considerable time giving thoughtful answers to questions around photobook readership.
Further research with particular individuals is developing some of the difficult-to-answer questions about our reading of books new to us and those we are already familiar with. Already a number of interview sheets with non-linear response diagrams have been sent out – if you would like to be involved in this also pop me an email.
I have a small chapter in a new publication looking at the book within a somewhat confusing digital (or rather post-digital) era. The piece is titled ‘The Photobook Club; a Pragmatic Response to Hierarchical Conversation and the Photobook as Capital’. The book features some great pieces from really insightful minds and positions, have a look at more info and a press release below…
A new bookRoom press publication edited by Danny Aldred and Emmanuelle Waeckerlé. With a foreword by Alessandro Ludovico and endnotes by John Warwicker.
Code X brings together a selection of personal histories of the current ‘transforming’ and ‘expanding’ of the book medium with the aim to challenge the very notion of what it could be(come) in today’s complex information era.
The design of Code—X within codex form represents a playful and daring twist of ink imitating pixel to render composition and design. The content is seen as a continuous scroll, cropped where screen meets paper edge. We celebrate both camps by highlighting dichotomies of edge to scroll, sequence to time and image to place.
Featuring essays, interviews and works by
Delphine Bedel, Simon Cutts, Sebastien Girard, Hans Gremmen, Andrew Haslam with Rose Gridneff & Alex Cooper, Alec Finlay with Ken Cockburn, Alessandro Ludovico, Silvio Lorusso, Katharine Meynell with Susan Johanknecht, Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine, AND Publishing, Colin Sackett, Jodie Silsby, Paul Soulellis, Stefan Szczelkun, John Warwicker (Tomato), Eric Watier, Maria White, Beth Williamson, David Lorente Zaragoza.
Select quote:“Travel to the end of the road with Mark Power, who has made a determined mission to expose what lies hidden within these apparently cultureless outposts of British civilisation, that might trendily be referred to as terrains vagues or non-places.”
‘Temporal Landscapes’, A Thesis by Shelley Jacobson (PDF link)
For those who want to cut to the chase, you can do so by searching for ’26’ in this paper for comment on Power’s images, but if you have the time, this is an interesting thesis including the work of Burtynsky, Maisel, Baltz and a heap more.
Select quote:“Drawn by the magnet of memories lightly softened over the years and fully expecting to enjoy sneering at some tasteless attempts at gentrification, I was confronted instead by a deeply depressing vision of neglect: peeling paint, overgrown garden, rubbish piling up by the garage my Dad had expertly built himself. And to complete the picture, a similarly weathered ‘For Sale’ sign that looked as if it had been there for a generation.”
This ‘Food for Thought‘ post is for those unfamiliar with Mark Power’s work and will give a variety of links to his projects, interviews, videos and so on. For those who are more interested specifically in ’26 Different Endings’, the following ‘Food for Thought‘ post will focus on this photobook.
Power has an extensive archive of images from a variety of projects, all of which can be found on his excellent website. His work has documented all manner of subjects here in the UK, in Europe and further afield.
If you enjoyed looking at ‘The Shipping Forecast‘ then the video below gives a whole new dimension, especially for those who have never heard the foreign language that is the shipping forecast on radio…
Power has also embraced new ways of working and regularly shoots very short moving images, all with a static camera (and silent). They have the same aesthetic feel as his images with the addition of movement. You can check them all out on his Vimeo profile as well as see one below:
“Now that everyone in the developed world seems to own some form of camera, a different space has opened for documentary photographers. It’s a space free from specific events, where there are different expectations, where it is first and foremost about ideas. Now we can all take pictures, with varying degrees of consistency, more than ever before it’s about what we do with photography.”
You gotta love the kind folk at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Not only did they put on a fantastically rich retrospective of Graham’s work just last year, but they put together a great little education resource for anyone interested in his work. The PDF is geared towards those who are completely or relatively new to Graham and includes questions and tasks to complete.
If any readers are teaching young students, this could be fantastic to use, and on that note, if any readers do fall under this category, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) as I would love to support the learning of photography and photobooks here (more on this very soon).
Food for Thought #1 looked broadly at Graham and his extensive archive with some videos, interviews and reviews. This second version is more focused on the ‘A1: The Great North Road’ publication in particular.
Firstly, while it is no substitute for the real thing, you can see a selection of images from this book on the Paul Graham Archive website. Seeing as this book is upward of £350 I will be uploading a video of the book shortly (I have it on loan from the local Uni Library and as a warning, let’s just say it has been ‘well loved’).
You might also want to check out a few of the links below:
Simon Roberts references the book when he heads back down the A1 after his ‘We English’ project in 2008. “The photographs are a mournful document of a grey nowhere land in a country moving too fast to stop for a cup of tea”
David Chandler wrote a nice little piece on the book found at the bottom of this page on ‘Self Publish be Happy’. “And it represents what Paul acknowledges as the spirit of new wave, the punk ethos that enabled young people to create things for themselves, on their own terms…”
On the road itself there is a site dedicated to all things ‘A1’ run by Biff Vernon here. It’s quite niche and a little geeky – but I like that.
There are also a few quotes regarding the road on this page by Oliver Merrington. “Now let me make a statement, in plain truth, of this road – betwixt Biggleswade and Buckden. As a road of fine gravel it is unequalled” (John Byng 1974)
Plenty more comment and inspiration coming, if you want to add your thoughts on the book, or any of the links and thoughts shared, do so in the comments section or via email (email@example.com)
A much more detailed interview with Paul Graham, conducted by Aaron Schumann can be found on seesaw magazine’s website. “That type of photography had its time, and those types of social concern are still relevant, but we’ve just got to find a fresh language to express ourselves. Today, we don’t write books as we did in 1952; authors now explore the structure of a novel and what writing now means, as well as their subject matter” (PG)
Here, Peter MacGill of Pace MacGill Gallery discusses the work of photographer Paul Graham (Focusing on ‘A Shimmer of Possibility).
Alternatively, Graham himself talks us through one of the narratives from ‘A Shimmer of Possibility’
And for those who didn’t get to see the retrospective (or mid career survey as Peter MacGill would have me say) of Graham’s work as it toured Europe, here are some reviews of his output 1981-2006:
Gerry Badger writing for the BJP “He never repeats himself, never stands still and, while he has certain concerns revolving broadly around the nature of the photographic document (although he rightly hates the “D” word, as he calls it), treats each new project as a beginning, approaching the medium each time from first principles”
Liz Joney of The Guardian (Review of catalogue) “”Without the energy to interrogate yourself, you’re dead,” Graham once said, and one of his strengths as an artist is his mutability. He is constantly testing what photography is capable of.
Firstly, as this book is easily available at a good price in a re-edition, I will be not be creating a video for the book in it’s entirety. And so you can either look to purchase the book here (or here for US), or look at what Mann features on her own website. It is by no means a substitute for the book but it does give a taste for the work and as often as possible I will feature other images also.
3. The Smithsonian magazine writes about Mann’s images of her family here.
4. And… even though it was featured in the earlier posts, it is most certainly a must watch in relation to this specific book: This video offers a great insight int Mann’s mind, and process as well as hearing from her children about their mothers image making and use of them as subjects.
As we look at Sally Mann’s ‘Immediate Family’ this month it is worth acknowledging the artist beyond this single publication. And so below are some useful links and resources to find out a little more about one of America’s most important female artists. You can also see the links below for other publications by Mann.
We will feature another ‘food for thought’ post shortly looking more closely at resources linked to ‘Immediate Family’.
2.In this interview from American Suburb X, Sally Mann speaks with Steven Cantor (director of ‘What Remains’) about the process of making the documentary, and in particular about the relationships between Mann and her children.
3. This next video is not nearly as in depth as ‘What Remains’ but it still offers a great insight int Mann’s mind, and process as well as hearing from her children about their mothers image making and use of them as subjects.