HISTORY

World Photobook Day on October 14th

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On October 14th you might find your local PBC branch holding a special meeting to mark the birth of the photobook back in 1843. If you do not live in a city with a PBC, why not grab that book that you bought last year and haven’t really spent any time with yet, pull it off the shelf and sit down for half an hour of photobook investigation.

Share your images of you and your book, or any musings on the photobook with the hashtag #PhotoBookDay and head over to www.photobookday.wordpress.com to see what others are doing.

What follows is a message from the Photobook Club Madrid:

Dear friends:

On 14 October is International Day of the photobook. This date is a direct homage to the first photobook known: Photographs of British algae. Cyanotype impressions of Anna Atkins. Since we do not know the date of publication, we have taken the date of entry in the catalog the copies for the British Library:

http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/photographyinbooks/record.asp?RecordID=3048

This year marks the 170th anniversary of that date and we’d love you to join this celebration and turn that day into a global event organizing an event related to the Photobook in your respective cities.

Not much time to organize large activities, so as usual in the PhotoBook Club Madrid we will opt for organizing something accessible to anyone who wants to participate.

We propose – as a global activity to develop through facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. – Share a photo of a photobook using the hashtag # PhotoBookDay. Organize any other activity that you consider appropriate to celebrate the day. let us know to share .

Celebrate the photobook, born in 1843.

Mark Power’s ’26 Different Endings’ and Memory Pairings

The return of what I guess can just about be called a regular feature – memory pairings. Can’t help but recall other images whenever I leaf through a photobook or see images elsewhere. Here are a few from Mark Power’s ’26 Different Endings’. If you want to suggest more, do so in the comments section below.

– Matt

Images MARK POWER and THOMAS DEMAND

Mark Power
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Thomas Demand

Images MARK POWER and EDWARD BURTYNSKY

Mark Power
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Edward Burtynsky (from the series Oil)

Images MARK POWER and SIMON ROBERTS

Mark Power
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Simon Roberts (from the Election Project)

Images MARK POWER and BERNARD FUCHS

Mark Power
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Bernard Fuchs (from the book Roads and Paths)

Other Books by Paul Graham

‘A1: The Great North Road’ was Paul Graham’s first monograph (self-published in 1983) but was by no means his last. The following 4 years saw two more books published in almost Identical design under Grey Editions. In 1990 Graham took another look at Northern Ireland in ‘In Umbra Res’ before turning his gaze on ‘New Europe’, Japan, and most recently America in ‘American Night’ and ‘A Shimmer of Possibility’.

A full list of Graham’s monographs can be found below:

A1 The Great North Road, 1983
Paul Graham

A1: The Great North Road

Images Online: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/a1.html
Here, in Graham’s first publication, he documents both the physical landscape and people that inhabit the roadside service stations, rest-stops and motels of the Great North Road in order to ‘weave a picture of England in the 1980’s’.


Beyond Caring, 1986
Paul Graham

Beyond Caring

Images online: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/beyondcaring.html#a
‘Beyond Caring’ chronicles the state of employment in 80’s Britain through images made in the waiting rooms, corridors and cubicles of the department of social security and department of employment.

 

Trouble Land, The social landscape of Northern Ireland, 1987
Paul Graham

Troubled Land

Images Online: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/troubledland.html
Troubled Land was Graham’s last book produced in the 80’s and followed the style of the two previous publications via ‘Grey Editions’. This time examining the subtle relationship between the landscape of Northern Ireland and the ‘troubles of its society’.

 

In Umbra Res, 1990
Paul Graham

In Umbra Res

I have yet to see this book but there is some good information online at ‘Design for Life’ and also a video of the book from American Suburb X.

New Europe, 1993
Paul Graham

New Europe

Images Online: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/neweurope.html
‘New Europe seeks to dig beneath the utopian dream of a united continent arising to face the 21st century. Paul Graham’s photographs reflect on the inescapable shadow of history that falls over each nation’s conscience, from the dictatorships of Franco and Hitler, to the Holocaust and the Irish conflict.’ (From back cover of ‘New Europe’)

Empty Heaven, 1995
Paul Graham

Empty Heaven

Images Online: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/emptyheaven.html
Another book I havn’t seen but again there are good resources online. Check out two reviews/reflections by TJ Proechel or  ‘Some Pictures, Some News‘.

 

Paul Graham Contemporary Artists monograph, Phaidon Press, 1996
Paul Graham, Phaidon

Paul Graham

This book features a collection of Graham’s images, along with essays and an interview to provide a solid overview of his work up to 1996. The extensive interview with Gillian Wearing, is alone worth the read and to find a conversation with the great Lewis Baltz at the end of the book is a great treat.

 

End of an Age, 1998
Paul Graham

End of an Age

Images Online: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/endofanage.html
From the publisher: From the publisher: “End of an Age is a meditation on the transition from adolescence to adulthood at the end of the postwar order. Ultra-sharp direct flash images alternate with blurred, available-light photographs, a long, inquiring, and elegiac look at young white adults facing an uncertain future after the end of white, Western mono-culture.”

Paintings, 2000
Paul Graham

– Woops, I missed this one form the original list but there is a post on it here along with spreads from the book, with thanks to Tom Claxton.

 

American Night, 2003
Paul Graham

American Night

Images Online: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/americannight.html
An examination or at least a mediation on the great divides in America. A combination of super high key images depicting subjects walking and carrying bags, and slick, saturated color images of American dream houses. It’s certainly worth a look but I got much more from an exhibition of this work than I do from the book.

 

A Shimmer of Possibility, 2009 (12 books in a set)
Paul Graham

A Shimmer of Possibility

Images Online: http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/possibility.html
I really have no idea how to describe these books, or what they are even about. I guess they are little snapshots of life (and lives), they are charming and fun poems or narratives which I’m sure those more literate could base thesis’ on, but for me the enjoyment is in coming to these books with no preconceived notions of greatness or enlightenment and simply watching moments unfold.

The Present, 2012
Paul Graham

The Present

I know very little of this book as it has only just launched but there is a detailed review over on the Photo-Eye blog.

– Matt

 

Benoit Grimbert’s ‘A1: The Great North Road’

After looking at Phil Coomes’ ‘Recession Road’, I would like to share another project which retraces (to an extent) the footsteps of Paul Graham.
My thanks to Sebastian Arthur Hau for pointing me in the direction of this project by Benoit Grimbert and my thanks also Benoit who has contributed some text on the project and of Graham’s influence.

To see the complete series by Grimbert, head over here. And if you would like to compare the two, I have included the video showing Graham’s work below.

 

Benoit Grimbert - North London, Apex Corner

The first Paul Graham photographs I saw were images taken from his ‘Troubled Land‘ series. I was about twenty, and I remember the impression of contemporaneity and novelty (in comparison with other photographers working at that time in the field of landscape photography) that these subtle colored images produced on me. I also remember that they vaguely seem to me as specifically European, even if they may also be considered as a kind of response to the most recent American landscape photography (I think in particular of Stephen Shore and William Eggleston). This fact never stopped his images stimulating me, and I still look at his series (‘A Shimmer of Possibility‘ included) as works which synthesized both the american and european
photographic approaches.

Benoit Grimbert - Wyboston, I

Much later, I was deeply impressed by another work, as a book : ‘A1, The Great North Road‘. Having the book in my hands, the entire series – the photograph on the cover in particular – operated as a sort of appeal. Appeal of an unpredictable road trip to the North, which was absolutely not defined, and then the appeal of taking photographs – the strength of the images and of the imagination. The fact that I did not really know the road contributed to make it worthy of interest. If Paul Graham photographed this road partly on the basis of his childhood memories, I will do it under the impression of a pure representation, it would be a photographic one. Therefore, the point was not for me to follow in his footsteps, in the search of the possible traces of what was depicted in the book. This series just worked as the driving force behind me, and the framework became quite conceptual – from a material point of view : a road, The Great North Road, with a beginning and an end, clearly identifiable ; from a representative point of view : a series of 40 photographs, placed according to the geographical order of the road – the content and the form of the photographs following my own photographic approach.

Benoit Grimbert - South Witham

I had my first trip by car along the A1 in October 2008. There was a second trip in
December 2008, and a third in March 2009. Without any particular intention, I drove this road, leaving it each time I was attracted by something I had saw on its sides. Sometimes, the photograph was made quite quickly, but most of the time, it took me several hours to find the appropriate place to make it. At any time, the photograph, although very composed, was literally “unexpected”.

– Benoît Grimbert

26 Years Later: The Great North Road Trip

In 2009, ‘traff’ of the Culture Republic blog said that:

It would be an interesting exercise to make the journey in current times and see what changes have been wrought.  One would imagine there would be new freeways, big box retail and neon-lit ‘service centres’, yet still the same air of suburban angst and hopelessness faintly lingering.

Luckily Phil Coomes of the BBC’s ‘Viewfinder’ blog seemed to have the same interest and in September of 2009 embarked upon ‘The Great North Road Trip’.

©PHIL COOMES

The idea was to travel the road in search of stories on the recession, just like Graham, Coomes’ choice to follow the A1(M) meant a swift dissection of England from the wealthy city of London, through industrial and post-industrial towns of the midlands and on towards Scotland.

While Coomes’ refers to Graham’s work on a couple of occasions, it is not a complete retracing of locations or ‘After A1: The Great North Road’ style project. It is however a well thought out project in it’s own right and as an archive of a time period is very interesting. I have archived all the posts in the lists below.

©PHIL COOMES

There is an audio slideshow created by Phil Coomes and Paula Dear that sums up the weeks travel, hearing direct from the public who have spoken to Coomes adds some weight to the piece and makes me wonder what Graham’s subjects would have spoken about, given the opportunity.

©PAUL GRAHAM

– Matt
And if you haven’t seen the book yet…

Paul Graham’s ‘A1: The Great North Road’ and Memory Pairings

A wee while ago when looking at Stephen Shore’s ‘Uncommon Places’ I posted a few image pairings I couldn’t help making as I looked through the book. I enjoyed it and so decided to do it again, as before the pairings seem to be made primarily based on work I have seen or revisited recently…

Paul Graham and Joel Sternfeld

Paul Graham
‘Burning Fields, Melmerby, North Yorkshire, September 1981′

Joel Sternfeld
McLean, Virginia December 4, 1978′

 

Paul Graham and Paul Graham

Paul Graham
‘Petrol Station, Blyth Services, Nottinghamshire, March 1981′

Paul Graham
‘from the series ‘Troubled Land‘ 1984-86

 

Paul Graham and Joel Sternfeld and Daniel Shea

Paul Graham
‘Hedge in wind, Bedfordshire, June 1982′

Joel Sternfeld
‘The East Meadows, Northampton, Massachusetts 2006′

Daniel Shea
‘Smoke Stacks, 2009′ from the series ‘Coal Work


Paul Graham and Donald Webber

Paul Graham
‘Ashtray on Table, Morley’s Cafe, Markham Moor, Nottinghamshire, February 1981′

Donald Webber
From the series ‘Interrogations

 

Paul Graham and Hanna Starkey

Paul Graham
‘Cafe Waitress, John’s Cafe, Sandy, Bedfordshire, May 1982′

Hannah Starkey
‘Untitled, October 1988′

 

Hope you enjoy my little experiment, if you have your own, put them in the comments section below…

– Matt
And if you haven’t seen the book yet…

Kurt Easterwood on Stephen Shore’s ‘West Fifteenth’, A Conclusion

Here is the fourth and final extraction from an extended piece of writing by Kurt Easterwood of Japan Exposures. Kurt produced a fantasticaly rich deconstruction and analysis of Shore’s ‘West Fifteenth St. and Vine St., Cincinnati, Ohio, May 1, 1974’ featured in ‘Uncommon Places, The Complete Works’. The image in question can be seen on the right hand side of the image below and you can find the full PDF underneath the image or right here.

West Fifteenth St. and Vine St., Cincinnati, Ohio, May 1, 1974

PDF – Kurt Easterwood on ‘West Fifteenth’

A Conclusion

At most, Shore probably spent about 30 minutes standing at the corner of Fifteenth and Vine, framing the scene, adjusting the focus, measuring the light, preparing the film holder, and tripping the shutter. We can be fairly certain he did all these things blissfully unaware of Over-the-Rhine’s German immigrant antecedents, trends in outdoor advertising, or pawn shops as economic indicators. Nor is it likely that Shore took the inverted image he found on his camera’s ground glass and flipped it over in his mind, ruminating on what sociological discourse the graphical elements contained within his frame’s borders might conspire to conjure up for future travelers on his tour of uncommon places.

Thus there is a very real possibility that readers will bristle at my deconstruction of this photo, and the introduction of what may seem like incidental history and tangential politics in an attempt to locate the photo within a much broader context than Shore ever intended. Seeing as I’m likely guilty as charged on that count, in my defense let me stipulate that I see the tour I took of “West Fifteenth St. and Vine St., Cincinnati, Ohio, May 1, 1974” less as a deconstruction of an image and more a construction of a separate image, akin say to Mark Klett’s rephotography projects.  Like the spirit in which those are undertaken, the aim has not been to bring Shore’s original photo kicking and screaming into a context imposed from outside, or to re-align it to fight some rhetorical battle, but to merely have it in hand like a trusty map as I negotiate its spaces nearly 40 years later. It’s my hope that the new topography I have constructed as a result informs the old, much as Shore’s two-dimensional photographs in Uncommon Places built upon and informed their physical counterparts. READ MORE

– Kurt Easterwood

Kunstler, Venturi and Stephen Shore

The subjects of Shore’s images in ‘Uncommon Places’ could well illustrate architect Robert Venturi’s seminal ‘Learning From Las Vegas‘ as they represent Venturi’s comments on the highway-dictated landscape to a tee.


Below I have pulled a few quotes from ‘Learning from Las Vegas‘ as well as James Howard Kunstler’s ‘The Geography of Nowhere‘ (more concerned with urban sprawl than PoMo architecture). I think these quotes really highlight the importance of Shore’s work in elevating and evaluating the everyday and ordinary in America.

(Of interest – Venturi wrote a few words on Uncommon Places which are featured on the back cover)

– Matt

IMAGE STEPHEN SHORE

“Acting as symbols, the signs and building identify the space by their location and direction, and space is further defined and directed by utility poles and street parking patterns.”
– Robert Venturi/Denise Scott Brown/Steven Izenour

“Ever-busy, ever-building, ever-in-motion, ever-throwing-out the old for the new, we have hardly paused to think about what we are so busy building, and what we have thrown away.”
– James Howard Kunstler

IMAGE STEPHEN SHORE

 “On the commercial strip the supermarket windows contain no merchandise. There may be signs announcing the day’s bargains, but they are to be read by pedestrians approaching from the parking lot.”
– Robert Venturi/Denise Scott Brown/Steven Izenour

IMAGE STEPHEN SHORE

“Americans are doing almost nothing to prepare for the end of the romantic dream that was the automobile age.”
– James Howard Kunstler

“The freedom to get up and move is a premise of the national experience. It is the physical expression of the freedom to move upward socially, absent in other societies. The automobile allowed this expression to be carried to absurd extremes.”
– James Howard Kunstler

IMAGE STEPHEN SHORE

“Service stations, motels and other simpler types of buildings conform in general to this system of inflection toward the highway through the position and form of their elements. Regardless of the front, the back of the building is styleless, because the whole is turned towards the front and no one sees the back.”
– Robert Venturi/Denise Scott Brown/Steven Izenour