Photographs copyright 2012 Pietro Mattioli published by Kodoji Press
What might things look like in the dead of night as revealed in the brief moment of a camera flash? This is perhaps one of many questions that Mattioli poses to the viewer in his recent “Two Thousand Light Years from Home”.
Objects are illuminated in the night with a frontal directness, but yet become isolated such that they appear ambiguous. As the books title implies, this is a journey in which brief glimpses of light reveal little, yet still with careful study, a lot of information. Present within the pictorial frame are small, isolated spots of color, not as well defined as the brightly illuminated subject. It appears that these small spots of color represent an unknown entity and create a sense of unease by their presence.
The illuminated subject in each photograph can usually be identified as to what the object is, but made strange and odd within this context. It is like seeing an object new and fresh for the first time, regardless of how many times someone might walk past them by in the light of day.
As a photobook, there are some physical attributes which make this a wonderful object, from the crazy printing and sewn binding to the fragile covers. The essay texts are provided in both English and German. It is a bit difficult to describe the interior pages, as the litho sheet has the images printed on one side, while on the opposing side, an interesting shade of Magenta. The printed sheet is folded, cut and bound such that the folds remain with the Magenta side inside while allowing only the printed page to show. Egads, I read this and even I don’t fully comprehend this complexity. As stated by Winfried Heininger, the publisher and designer; “The printed, folded sheet of each of the book’s signatures remains uncut on one edge; every page conceals an interior printed in a deep pink”.
The stiff covers are glued with might be a termed a heavy-duty pressure-sensitive adhesive such that if the covers are not creased carefully and held at the spine when folded open, may separate and lift from the printed block. I know and ought to know better.
After thought: I continue to think about books and book reviews well after they are published and I wonder if there might be something I have overlooked. In this case, it finally dawned on me as to another reason for the design of the book, especially as I take into account Heininger’s description of the interior color being a “deep pink”, rather than what I identified as Magenta. Mattioli is taking walks and photographing while his daughter sleeps at night, thus the interior color of a “deep pink” is representative of his unseen daughter whose presence is then indirectly felt through this body of work. Now I think this book is even more amazing than I first thought, which I thought was pretty cool to start with.