The PhotoBook

October 29, 2012

David Schulz – Lone Wolf

Photographs copyright 2012 David Schulz published by the Book Bakery (Publication Studio, Toronto)

Lone Wolf is one in a series of photo-bookworks developed by David Schulz. He investigates various “motifs (which) act as gears that engage the photographs and provide opportunities for (mis) aligning the visual content through the graphic structure of a bookwork. As one observes the ways that photographs operate within a context of graphic motifs that generate meaning, one may also begin to consider how the photographic images engage with one another in terms of verbal experience…. Each work situates itself on a trajectory of literal (or non-literal) reading that also acknowledges both its structural and perceptual processes. Within their formal contexts, photographs utilize a multitude of strategies for referencing, representing, and simulating language. These operations can be found within a single image, between two or more images, through the use of parallel narratives, text and image, and many other forms.”*

Lone Wolf (from one of my favorite sources, Wikipedia): is someone who commits or prepares for, or is suspected of committing or preparing for violent acts in support of some group, movement, or ideology, but does so alone. In the U.S. legal context, the lone wolf is associated with the U.S. terror-law (FISA), comprises non-violent, as well as violent acts. Moreover, a lone wolf can be so defined on the mere basis of suspicion (“reasonable belief”, not actual charges). Probable cause is not required.

Thus there is arbitrariness to the definition, interpretation and subsequent actions against someone who is deemed by U.S. enforcement as a Lone Wolf. Schulz is investigating the complexity surrounding the identity of a Lone Wolf as well as the surrounding political infrastructure.

To create his narrative, Schulz appropriates photographic images and text from a variety of sources, including “screenshots from American reality television shows depicting expressions of physical force, excerpts from congressional hearings of the 112th and 113th congresses on the Patriot Act, and a series of transcripts from the movie Let There Be Light (1946), by John Huston, and Flickr.com.”

The appropriated images are made more abstract for the reader by the conversion into large halftones. A reading of the book is then confounded by the sequencing, multifacted repetition and the mashed pairing of the photographs. There is a resulting tension and uneasiness that lingers in this body of work.

I will have to admit, of the books I choose to explore “Work” for the IX FotoGrafia di Roma photobook exhibition; this one takes me the most out of my comfort zone.

As a book object, it is a print-on-demand trade book with perfect bound binding.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

* Footnote: Visual and Verbal Experience in Photo-Bookworks, Spring 2010, Journal of Artist Books (JAB)

October 13, 2012

Cristina de Middel – The Afronauts

Copyright 2012 Cristina de Middel (Puch), self-published

Christina de Middel created a historical novella with her artists book The Afronauts about what might could have been. In 1964 Edward Makuka Nkoloso created the Zambian Space Program with the goal to fly twelve astronauts, including one girl, and ten cats to Mars. He was convinced that he could beat the United States to Mars and place Zambia on the forefront of the technology frontier. Cristina de Middel has re-told the story of this humorous series of events with her own pluck and style.

It is interesting that de Middel was not tempted to seize upon the more humorous documented events surrounding this misadventure, the 17 year old girl who during her training became pregnant, the desire to include the ten cats in this program, the training simulations involving the trainees swinging on a rope during which Nkoloso would cut the rope to provide a sense of weightlessness, as well as having the trainees tumbling inside a large drum as they rolled down a hill.

The book is an enjoyable mash up of her photographs, simulated documents, found photographs and her artwork. The weaving of these elements creates a complex reading in which it is necessary to open gatefolds that result in concealing photographic plates and perhaps in the process creates a confusing mess. Perhaps similar to attempting to understand Nkoloso’s Space Program. I liken the experience of reading this book to Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood.

De Middle incorporates a number of translucent pages that read similar to vellum used for technical drawings and specifications, providing a sense of authentication that this might be real in the face of the absurdity. She also incorporates poignant mythology, such as a photograph of a bird’s wing lying on the ground, a referent to the hubris of Icarus.

The book has a reinforced stiff cover with a simple stitch sewn and a visible book block. The book is bound with various single gate-fold inserts and one double-page gatefold. The printing on matte papers reduces the contrast of the color interior images but does not affect the re-telling of this narrative. The essay is by Kojo Nuge.

Note: I selected this book for the 2012 Fotografia di Roma photobook exhibition’s theme of “Work” and subsequently short listed by Aperture for First Photobook award.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

October 8, 2012

Florian van Roekel – How Terry Likes His Coffee

Photographs copyright Florian Van Roekel self-published, first edition 2010, second edition 2012

Of the photobooks I selected for the theme of “Work” for 2012 Fotografia di Roma’s photobook exhibition, “How Terry Likes his Coffee; A Photo Odyssey into Office Life” by Florian van Roekel resonates the strongest with me as it relates to my day job spent in various offices.

Van Roekel describes this photobook as an Odyssey, which is to inform the reader that this is story about a journey into a strange land, just as it was for Homer, with strange customs and temptations.

As in the Odyssey, van Roekel provides cryptic maps of the journey, although in this case, these are various office layouts. His maps reveal a labyrinth of corridors and offices, a confusing maze of pathways and stop-overs that essentially reveals very little information for a non-office worker. The layouts provide few clues as to the work that occurs within these domains but hints at underlying customs as the size and location of various offices and who inhabits them.

In thinking about office “life”, much of the work, which is to say “effort” that occurs is ambiguous to the casual observer, as are the myriad tasks and unfathomable results that are achieved. In contrast to the work of construction, the effort of the workers will eventually reveal a solid structure. For most industrial trades, effort transforms materials from one state to another, which can then be readily identified that something happened. The new object looks different than the parts and components that existed before.

For van Roekel it seems much of the work entails sitting at a desk, looking at a computer monitor, talking on a phone, standing or waiting by the photo-copier and in gathering with other office workers, all the while occasionally drinking coffee. The results and out-put of their work appear to be filled ambiguous corrugated boxes. Van Roekel also investigates cultural tribal customs of the office, the positions assumed by individual in relation to others in the office, the implied egalitarianism; the non-verbal cues and communication as the slight touches to the arms and shoulders, a hand on their forehead and the singular gesture of a hand.

The work and world of the office remains elusive and no less ambiguous in van Roekel’s legendary tell, but perhaps an office is now a bit more interesting terrain.

The book object is a hard cover book well suited for the horizontal color photographs and designed to appear similar to an office note-book consistent with his theme.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

October 6, 2012

Chris Coekin – The Altogether

Copyright Chris Coekin 2011 published by Walkout Books

The background story on the industrial setting for Chris Coekin’s The Altogeher is a UK factory that began manufacturing copper wire over one hundred and fifty years ago in 1834. Recently the factory was shut down in conjunction with the laying-off of all the employees.

Coekin has designed the book to sequence through three sections, although not easy to determine the transition as all of the photographs are bound as a gatefold. Thus you can say that his story literally, as well as metaphorically, unfolds in the telling. The folded pages have a series of poetic text that reads like an old cinema commercial, one phrase on a fold, followed by the next phrase on the following folded page.

The first series of photographs are staged individuals who play-out the work and working relationships. Perhaps tough-in-cheek as best done in the style of dry British humor, is the individual saddled with chains, a wonderfully humorous node to Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and his character Jacob Marley.

Not as humorous is the second series of deposits, stains and remains that might accompany a steel processing factory. I read this short narrative as regarding the past environmental transgressions for the sake of economic gain. Sadly, this is a criticism of current industrial practices as well.

The last section are photographs that are liken to a future archeological dig, in which various industrial hand tools are found amongst the waste of this industrial site. Similar to the preceding section, these are ambiguous photographs of worn and heavy used objects without a direct connection in which they are used. Lying in the dark, oily grim, these tools are not shown in a neutral and objective context, but situationally such that I derive a sinister undertone surrounding these objects.

The book object is very intriguing, the hard cover is foil blocked and embossed and all of the photographs are hand-folded gatefold running concurrently the length of the book. Opening the series of gatefolds results in a slower read in which the viewer may have more of an opportunity to reflect on the content. The book is accompanied by a unique seven-inch vinyl record produced from the factory floor. The recoded audio is Days at The Factories c/w CuSO4 Shuffle.

Note: I have selected this book for my 2012 Fotografia di Roma photobook exhibition theme of Work. This photobook exhibition is also scheduled for one night pop-up at the Irvine Fine Art Center, Oct 18th 2012.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

October 4, 2012

Ron Jude – Lick Creek Line

photographs copyright 2012 Ron Jude, published by MACK

On the surface, this photobook is Ron Jude’s narrative about the work and identity of an animal trapper near Lick Creek, Somewhere in the Western United States. The story that slowly emerges is an investigation into cultural and environmental change and the resulting conflict between old traditions and modernity.

The tone of the book is initially set by the books cover image; an overcast pall lies forbiddingly over the landscape. The viewer is introduced to the trapper and one of his traps, followed by a sequence of photographs of turbulent and frothing water,  creating an unsettling demeanor to this story.

Thru Jude’s lens, we follow the trapper working his trap lines, amongst a mash up of vignettes of the surrounding terrain and wilderness that anchor the external context of this individual. Threaded through the book are photographs that appear unlike the domain of this individual, building an uneasy sense of tension.

Jude introduces elegant stuffed chairs, a stuff animal’s head, pine cones laying in a beautiful bowl to be appreciated, the edges of beautify fabric coaches that decorate a living room, and a mink “blanket” resting on a leather foot-rest. The wild landscape of the trapper is in a state of flux with lift lines for skiing dotting the landscape, dirt roadways morphing into black top, and faux stones being affixed to concrete walls. In one photograph, the viewer observes a pair of birds sitting on a window sill, then the realization that the birds are not real, but metal and are located within; an artificial representations that creates a subtle criticism of those who come to “visit” the wilderness.

Perhaps one of the more telling photographs for me depicts a pine tree that has been hacked away at and the tree appears about to topple. For me, this photograph symbolically represents Jude’s concern that the wilderness is slowly being eaten away and the old traditions are in the process of tumbling down.

The photobook is a stiff cover with dust jacket accompanied with an insert supplement with an essay by Nicholas Muellner.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

Other Ron Jude photobooks reviewed on The PhotoBook: Other Nature

October 3, 2012

Fotografia Photobook Exhibit – Opening

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:22 pm

Photographs copyright 2012 Lorenzo Formicola Lina Pallotta (author of )

I just received a couple of photographs from Lina Pallotta  which were taken by Lorenzo Formicola during the opening of my photobook exhibition at Fotografia in Rome last month. Lina is the author of Piedras Negras which I had selected for this exhibition and is my Ace on-the-floor reporter for this event. Thank you Lina and Lorenzo for sharing!

Regretfully my one night pop-up exhibit for these same photobooks at the Irvine Fine Art Center later this month will not have the same clean and sophisticated appearance as Rome. More details of this event are available here.

Update to the original post; photographs were made by Lorenzo Formicola.

October 1, 2012

Pop-up PhotoBook exhibition at Irvine Fine Art Center – work

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:31 pm

copyright the various photographers

Please join me for one evening this month as I share a pop-up photobook exhibition of the vast majority of the photobooks that are currently included in my exhibition at FotoGrafia Festival Internazionale in Rome Italy, which explores the theme of “work”. I will provide a short introduction about my selection for this exhibition and discuss a few of the photobooks.

Although this is not an official PhotoBook Club event per se, it is an exploratory meet-up to determine an interest in a PhotoBook Club group in Southern California. The issue in the past for similar meet-ups to this has been that Southern California is a very large and spread-out region, that a meet-up in Orange County may not be suitable for those in Santa Monica, the SF valley, SG Valley or San Diego. Thus the main reason that this is an exploratory meet-up!

This pop-up exhibition will not have the same polished appearance as my exhibition in Rome, as one component will be missing. For the Rome exhibition, I asked the participating photographers to re-photograph their book’s interior and we then hung these photographs around the book display. Nevertheless, these re-photographs are available here. Additionally, I will bring a few other photobooks from my collection that also investigate the theme of “work”.

The photobooks included in Fotografia that are planned for this exhibition include: Pierre Bessard - Behind China’s Growth, Julie Blackmon - Domestic Vacations, Michal Chelbin’s The Black Eye, Chris Coekin’s The Altogether, Clayton Cotterell’s Unarmed, Marco Delogu’s The Thirty Assassins, Charlotte Duma’s Al Lavoro!, Andy Freeberg’s Guardians, Thijs Heslenfeld’s Men at Work, Sarah Hobbs’s Small Problems in Living, Henry Horenstein’sSHOW, Rob Hornstra’s Sochi Singers, Pieter Hugo’s Permanent Error, Ron Jude’s Lick Creek Line, Chris Killip’s Seacoal, Gina LeVay’s Sandhogs, Rania Matar’s A Girl in her Room, Kendall Messick’s The Projectionist, Darin Mickey’s Stuff I Gotta Remember Not to Forget, Cristina de Middel (Puch)’s The Afronauts, Bertil Nilsson’s Undisclosed, Andreas Oetker-Kast’s manpower, Louie Palu’s Cage Call, Lina Pallotta’s Piedras Negras, Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood, Nina Poppe’s ama, Florian von Roekel’s How Terry Likes His Coffee, Ken Schles’s Oculus, Martin Schoeller’s Female Bodybuilders, David Schulz’s Lone Wolf, Melissa Shook’s My Suffok Downs

This PhotoBook pop-up exhibition will run concurrently with the Photographic Exchange meeting.

Exhibition venue: Irvine Fine Art Center, 14321 Yale Ave, Irvine, CA 92604

Date and duration: Thursday, October 18th, 2012 from 6:30 pm to 9:0 pm

I look forward to seeing you there.

Douglas Stockdale for The Photobook

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