Saturday, March 31, 2012

Archipelago. Finnish Landscapes.

Archipelago. Finnish Landscapes. By Pentti Sammallahti. Pentti Sammallahti, 2004. 80 pp., illustrated throughout, 7,25x6".

A - to me - familiar landscape, poetically captured.

Book description:

"The lands [Pentti Sammallahti] depicts are austere, foreign, cold, and yet strangely inviting.

Born and based in Finland, he has traveled across the northern reaches of Europe and Russia, across the peopled expanses of India and the empty deserts of Mongolia.

His images are melodic and balanced, particularly this set from his homeland-stretches of quiet coastline, fallow fields of stone and snow, lone gulls amidst rocks and water, and endless dark waves of seawater.

The work in this diminutive, self-published monograph ranges from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, a fruitful period during which his image-making matured. He sums up his thoughts on this work with a few short words. 'I understood that you get a photograph, you don't take it'."

Friday, March 30, 2012

Topographies of War.

Topographies of War. By Diane Dufour and Jean-Yves Jouannais, featuring numerous photographers. Steidl/Le Bal, 2012. 96pp., illustrated throughout, 29x21cm.

Book description:

"Is it possible to represent war other than by images of combat, corpses and rubble?

'Topographies of War' features photographic and video works that ignore confrontation, injury and death, and instead document war in a disembodied way through its sites, territories and constructed spaces.

This book contains topographical essays that explore war through its geography, without denying the human cost of fighting. In terms of military strategy, such iconographic choices coincide with the increased use of simulation techniques and the spread of long range weaponry, as well as with the military's media censorship and the virtual impossibility for photographers and video-makers to operate freely on the ground.

Has the territory of war become an abstract concept, an ideological construction, a given that cannot be represented?

'Topographies of War' tackles this question through the work of Jananne Al-Ani, Luc Delahaye, Harun Farocki, An-My Lê, Paola De Pietri, Walid Raad, Jo Ractliffe, Till Roeskens, Eyal Weizman and Donovan Wylie."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A to B.

A to B. By John MacLean. Designed by Wayne Daly. Hunter & James, 2011. 88pp., illustrated throughout, 16,3x24cm.

Book description:

"Forty-two photographs taken during 37 walks between the sites of Newgate prison and the Tyburn Tree, between 23 August 2009 and 3 February 2011.

In late 2009, a TV documentary about Stanley Kubrick caught my attention. The programme explained how Kubrick frequently shot more than 30 takes of one scene in order to ‘wear down’ the actors - to force them to work through the obvious approaches and find something new. I began to wonder if I could employ the basis of this process in my own work.

Looking at the 4ft wide map of London on my studio wall, I decided to choose two points (A and B), one east and one west, and take photographs as I walked repeatedly from one to the other. I would record each journey with GPS, and the line between the points (representing my directional choices) would be transcribed onto a map for each day – an apposite metaphor for my drifting thought process, perhaps.

Initially, I had planned to choose the points A and B arbitrarily by sticking a pin into the map. However, I had for some time been aware of the Tyburn Tablet, a memorial to the site of London’s ancient gallows near Marble Arch. The tablet, circular and set into the ground, resembles a full stop. And indeed it was a full stop for the thousands of condemned prisoners who were transported three miles from Newgate Prison in the east, to their demise on this site - a process that ended in 1783. Although I had no intention of producing a literal body of images concerning this historical event, I decided to reemploy these macabre points of arrival and departure, hoping their significance might add a subtle layer of influence to the images I produced.


Bloom and Nix were the first photographs where I decided to use light to silhouette an object rather than as a means of illuminating it (in this respect, I feel they are related to photograms: the image is formed by light that passes through an object to reach a light-sensitive medium, and everything else falls away to black).

Secondly, Bloom and Nix are abstract images. Abstraction had become intriguing because it addressed a question that had been on my mind: what makes a photograph a photograph? Specifically, if the information in an image is reduced to the point where the object-matter is unrecognisable, when is a photograph no longer a window to look through but an object in itself?

Why, however, did these two seams of inquiry, which had been lying undeveloped in a previous body of work, resurface in the making 'A to B'? Certainly the journey I retraced – from life towards death – echoed with these earlier abstract images of darkness and light, and so offered a framework for exploration. As Wolfgang Tillmans said in his lecture at the Royal Academy this year: ‘If something taps on your consciousness three times, it is usually worth pursuing'. "

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Read, read

Björk reading + light sculpture + clouds + architect John Lautner. Images via Synaptic Stimuli's tumblr.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Other side of the water.

Other side of the water. By Anthony Zinonos. Tulenizdat, 2011. 20pp., illustrated throughout, 14,8x21cm. Numbered edition of 50.

'Other side of the water' is a zine by freelance illustrator Anthony Zinonos, who's based in Norwich (UK).

The zine is made up of black & white collages with the images printed on pale blue paper.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All About: Crystals.

All About: Crystals. Words by Chris Hatherill, illustrations by Nicholas Burrows and William Edmonds, design by Hugh Frost. Landfill Editions and super/collider, 2011. 12pp., illustrated throughout, 15x20cm. Edition of 150 copies.

I'm pretty much a sucker for science, well-thought out concepts, men in felt hats/spies of a certain era-illustrations and all about/how to books or old school instruction manuals - meaning I'm excited about this series!

Book description:

"From crystal caves and ancient rituals to transistors and terrorists, CRYSTALS lurk everywhere - even outer space. Find out what makes a crystal grow, why they were worshiped and where to find the world’s largest specimens in this illustrated guide.

'All About: Science' is a new series from Landfill Editions and super/collider, exploring the myriad worlds of science through the eyes of contemporary image makers."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hug the Gray.

Hug the Gray. By Mat O’Brien, introduction by Brian DeGraw. Seems Books, 2011. 36pp., illustrated throughout, 6,5x9". Edition of 1000 copies.

Book description:

"The world is crumbling around us. I state this, not out of existential pessism, but rather as fact.

World leaders are bloodthirsty, religions are clashing violently, the rich are getting richer, the globe is warming, and culture is bankrupt. These are violent times and much of the world seems to have very simply given up on the idea of global and spiritual reparation.

Mat O'Brien does not entertain these notions of surrender. His soul is strongly intact.

Although he may not realize it, Mat is a foot soldier in the 'good army'... a member of an unspoken, undefined armed force which chooses brushes, ink, paper, and the strength of spirit and observation as its weapons of choice.

This is not to say that Mat's work is overtly or referentially political. I don't ever recall seeing a drawing by him that assumes a protest-like stance or an opinion that refuses to budge. The strength of his work is quite the opposite.

His drawings are, to me, the personification of the open and curious mind. They are works that scream innocence and wisdom. They are the result of a young boy turned young man who has kept a swift eye peeled to the universe around him throughout his entire journey thus far. I sometimes find it hard to believe that Mat does not, in fact, have multiple sets of eyes because he seems to be able to take in, and retain, far more visual and emotional information than most.

He takes it in, thinks about it over cups of tea or while watering his many plants, and eventually translates it into marks made on paper. The ink of these marks does not flow straight from the has traveled through Mats heart, mind and spirit. The humbling effects of looking at these marks, of looking at the many facets of the peripheral life that surrounds this spirited young man, is like none other. Mat O'Brien is quite like a Buddha to me.

He takes deep breaths in the face of the worlds deterioration and does his very best to combat it with honesty, beauty, personality, sense, and inspiration. I cannot help but think that if every living man and woman put forth even a shred of the sincerity that Mat does, and chose to look at their surroundings and to 'just BE', this crumbling world would be saved.

The fly on the wall is more important than we think."

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Mushroom Collection. Minneapolis.

The Mushroom Collection. Minneapolis. By Jason Fulford. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2012. 24 pp., illustrated throughout, 6,5x9,5".

I really like this project by artist Jason Fulford, its starting-point and what it's developed into. The exhibition at Minneapolis Institute of Arts (which this book is the catalogue of) is on until April 8.

More information here, here, here and here. Jason Fulford is also one of the founders of J&L Books, whose output I really like.

Book description:

"A few years ago, a friend gave artist Jason Fulford a manila envelope, found at a flea market. The envelope contained more than 80 photographs of different mushroom types, each composed and annotated with the care of someone who just had to be a mushroom collector.

These anonymous photographs inspired Fulford to create his own collection of photographs, publications, sculptures, and performances, all under the umbrella of The Soon Institute.

Similar to the lifecycle of mushrooms, the project goes underground and periodically sprouts up in various artistic forms (including The Mushroom Collector, a book he published in 2010), in unexpected locations, such as New York, California, and Amsterdam.
John Cage, the avant-garde musician, thinker, and, of course, mushroom collector, noted in his book 'For the Birds' (1981), "It's useless to pretend to know mushrooms. They escape your erudition. [The more you know them] the less sure you feel about identifying them."

Fulford's photographs draw inspiration from Cage's pleasure, wonder, and openness in the pursuit of visual knowledge.

The pictures appear to be unremarkable shots of commonplace objects, people, and places. Yet a closer look reveals humorous and subtle oddities: a crane lifting two ladders; a natural branch form casting an artificial multicolor shadow; a happy threesome running toward a cave as though part of a travel advertisement.

Instead of a singular, heroic photograph, Fulford's images reveal themselves through repetition, sequences, relationships between form and shadow, abstraction and reality."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Asphalt. By Andreas Trogisch. Peperoni Books, 2011. 28 pp., illustrated throughout, 24x30cm. Edition of 100, signed and numbered. Images from here.

Book description:

"The four so far published photo folders by Andreas Trogisch fascinated and enchanted us. Now the both last folders 'Asphalt' and 'Desiderata' complete the cycle. They are published in an edition of 100 numbered and signed copies.

The fifth folder is called 'Asphalt' and contains no more than 14 b&w images.

The title already reveals it - the view is focused downward, the display details are narrow, the motives two-dimensional. Where the space in these images comes from is a mystery.

I enter, follow the signs and traces and thereby have a lot more than 14 images in mind."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tree of Codes.

Tree of Codes. By Jonathan Safran Foer. Book design by Sara De Bondt Studio, cover design by Jon Gray of gray318. Visual Editions, 2010. 285pp., 21,8x13,5cm.

Today is a dear friend's birthday and it reminded me that I hadn't posted about 'Tree of Codes', a book I've been lucky enough to own for over a year.

I really like the writing of Jonathan Safran Foer, but with this book I really thought he grew as a writer and as a creative person.

Visual Editions' output is always creative, imaginative and wonderful and this book is no exception.

Book description:

"The book is as much a sculptural object as it is a work of masterful storytelling: here is an 'enormous last day of life' that looks like it feels.
Our early conversations with Jonathan Safran Foer about 'Tree of Codes' began with Jonathan saying he was curious to explore and experiment with the die-cut technique.

With that as our mutual starting point, we spent many months of emails and phone calls, exploring the idea of the pages’ physical relationship to one another and how this could somehow be developed to work with a meaningful narrative.

This led to Jonathan deciding to use an existing piece of text and cut a new story out of it. Having considered working with various texts, Jonathan decided to cut into and out of what he calls his 'favourite book': 'The Street of Crocodiles' by Bruno Schulz.

As Jonathan began to carve out his story, we started doing our production homework and literally got turned down by every printer we approached – their stock line being 'the book you want to make just cannot be made'. Thankfully, we found Die Keure in Belgium who relished the challenge of making a book with a different die-cut on every page."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Unlimited Sobrassada.

Unlimited Sobrassada. Poetry by Jaume C. Pons Alorda, illustrations by Cristòfol Pons. English translation by Arthur Rippendorf, French translation by Annie Bats, Italian translation by Lucia Pietrelli and Spanish translation by Aina Villalonga. Atem Books (under the collection 'D’un present porpra'), 2011. Two books + a little book with translations., 76pp. + 24pp., illustrated throughout, 14,8x21cm. First edition: 100 hand-numbered copies.

I'm very fond of illustrated poetry (or poetry infused with/incorporated into other art forms) and this is a pretty nice example of that. Plus, getting a little book of translations is something I get really excited about.

Atem Books is a small independent publisher I've recently discovered through the excellent Indie Photobook Library.

Book description:

"We should be taught on loss
so this is human’s fate:
to lose everything."

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Beauty Is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo.

Beauty Is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo. By Carole Maso. Counterpoint, 2002. 192pp., 8,5x5,9". Images from here.

Today is March 8, International Women's Day, and I thought we'd honour that with a book on a strong female artist.

I very much like the work of Frida Kahlo, and I've featured this and this book about, with or on her work and person before (I also really like What the Water Gave Me by poet Pascale Petit).

Book description:

"This impressionistic book recaps some of the more infamous events of the Mexican artist's life.

Maso ('The Art Lover'; 'Aureole') relies on Kahlo's diary, as well as on letters, medical reports and Hayden Herrera's biography, 'Frida', and focuses primarily on the mental and physical torment the painter suffered after being maimed in a trolley accident when she was 19.

For years after the accident, Kahlo's doctors prescribed a series of almost medieval corsets and a constant flow of painkillers; she also suffered miscarriages and eventually lost a leg to gangrene. Somewhat fewer pages are devoted to her painting and her relationship with Diego Rivera, although both are duly noted.

Maso renders all this in an experimental hybrid of prose and poetry; nonlinearity, repetition, multiple voices and fragmentation dominate, and she shows little regard for punctuation. Some readers will inevitably find this distracting, but it feels appropriate to the jagged world of pain, deformity and drug addiction in which Kahlo spent more than half her life.

Fortunately, despite the grim goings-on, Maso, like her subject, is not without a sense of humor (she slyly notes the commercialization and fetishizing of all things Frida and tosses quotes from Kahlo's detractors, as well as her own critics, into the mix), which helps her to capture the 'absurdity of the maimed and desperately decorated'."

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


True. By Thomas Joshua Cooper. Haunch of Venison, 2009. 178 pp., illustrated throughout, 11,75x9". Images from here.

Book description:

"Charting a two year journey to the polar regions of the Atlantic basin, the exhibition 'True', from renowned international photographer Thomas Joshua Cooper, presents new works from the series, 'The World's Edge' - an ongoing work that seeks to map the extremities of the land and islands that surround the Atlantic Ocean.

For the past 30 years, the artist has travelled to some of the most isolated and far-flung locations across the globe, making images with his 19th century Agfa camera and specially made photographic plates.
The 79 works in this exhibition include images made in the North and South poles, at the northern most land points of Norway and Greenland, and the most northerly point of the Antarctic Peninsula, Prime Head, which has had fewer human visitors than the Moon.

The exhibition 'True' required some of the toughest journeys for Cooper to date: over three months at sea, sailing into areas marked as 'uncharted dangers' - territories where rescue teams never venture and in which insurance companies are not able to provide cover - and treacherous weather conditions, including extreme storms caused by the El Nino and being snowed into the South Pole for 13 consecutive days.

Constructed only and always of the landscape, Cooper's images are devoid not only of figures and animals, but all human trace.

Using the chiaroscuro technique - the use of long exposures and low lighting to create distinct areas of light and darkness - the resulting images describe the darkness of cold water, white voids of fog, submerged rocks icebergs and the geology of rocks."

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Sand Sea Sky.

Sand Sea Sky. The Beaches of Sagaponack. By Tria Giovan, with an essay by Carl Safina. Damiani Editore, 2012. 88 pp., illustrated throughout, 13,5x9,5". Images from here.

Book description:

"The ocean and the beach have always provided humankind with ready metaphors for the infinite.

For New York photographer Tria Giovan, the beaches of Long Island inspired a fascinating attempt to comprehend their vastness and that of the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Known for her portraits of Cuban daily life (collected in 'Cuba: The Elusive Island') and her regular publication in magazines such as Aperture, Elle, Harpers and Vogue, Giovan has traveled all over the globe throughout her 25-year career, but here she has decided to stay close to home.

Accumulating roughly 10,000 photographs of the undisturbed Sagaponack beaches on the eastern end of Long Island, Giovan charted the change of seasons and myriad shifts of light and atmosphere as the tides rose and receded each day.

With a selection of 63 captivating prints and an accompanying essay by ecologist Carl Safina, 'Sand Sea Sky' offers the photographer’s meditations on fragility, the vastness of nature and the inevitability of change.

As Giovan also observes: 'these photographs of this vulnerable landscape invite a thoughtful concern about the environmental preservation of special places that engage our capacity for wonder'."

Friday, March 02, 2012

Today... still

This interview over at AnOther Magazine reminded me how much I like Robert Montgomery's work. It also reminded me how eloquently he always seems to speak of his own art, as well as art in a wider context in society.

"Robert Montgomery works in a poetic and melancholic post-situationalist tradition. He makes billboard pieces, recycled sunlight pieces and drawings.
His texts are part poetry, part an enquiry into our collective unconscious."
[read more here]

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Out of My Mind... Back in 5 Minutes.

Out of My Mind... Back in 5 Minutes. By Hanna Liden. Karma, 2011. 112pp., illustrated throughout, 21,5x28cm. Edition of 500 copies. Images from here.

Book description:

"An artist book that combines diaristic documentation of objects informing Liden’s work with installations and photography.

Shopping bags, trash heaps, cigarettes, crumpled cash once carelessly stuffed into a pocket - each image is a trace of human existence specific to New York city and the shit it insouciantly peddles, an investigation of solipsism via purchased and discarded goods.

Liden’s sculptures of black plastic bags over-filled with poured plaster are a consideration of those accessories originally conceived to hide a pedestrian’s taboo purchase - a need specific to the urban environment. The black plastic bag was the solution, just as the trash bag hides refuse and the body bag makes even death discreet.

If Baudelaire’s flâneur experienced the city nomadically strolling with the idling freedom of observation, Liden’s experience is filled with the ubiquity of concealed vices, tenuous urban landscape, consumer-ridden civilization where there exists a commodification of even death. 'Welcome to New York, thank you for dying here'."