The PhotoBook

July 7, 2014

Brooks Jensen – Looking at Images

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Copyright the photographers 2014 published by LensWork Publishing

Brooks Jensen is the Editor and Publisher of the LensWork journal and almost exclusively is focusing on Black and White photography. The bi-monthly journal is released concurrently in a print edition and a DVD that contains additional portfolios and audio interviews of the artist by Jensen.

Jensen also publishes a blog, also titled Looking at Images, where he provide extensive homilies about a singular image selected from the LensWork journal portfolios. Jensen has carefully selected a broad group of his published essays which provides the material for this book. In this book, Jensen’s photographic commentaries are sequenced alphabetically as to the photographer work that he is discussing. Each photograph and photographer being discussed is provided a two page spread with the photograph on one page which faces Jensen’s commentary on the other.

I am very honored that Jensen has selected one of my images from the In Passing project which was published in the #74 issue (January/February 2008) on page 252 and 253. This is the same photograph and a similar commentary that Jensen wrote about on his Looking at Images blog in 2010. I have known that Jensen was immediately taken by this image from the early days of my submission, as he had quickly asked if I would be open to a print exchange for one of his. That deal was a no brainier as I had been earlier intrigued by one his photographs, so we did the print swap. I guess you can say with Jensen as a collector of my work, this photograph keeps resurfacing in a very nice way. Likewise, the publication of In Passing in LensWork was a great validation of this somewhat controversial project and led to my subsequent publication of In Passing in a hardcover book through Blurb (Now sold out and out of Print).

As an insight to how Jensen categorized his commentaries, my image is a warmed toned black and white, not a pure black and white photograph, thus my photograph is grouped in the Colored Images section of the book, as were a number of other toned images. Which may seem odd as my print color is very close to all of the slightly warm selenium toning photographs printed in LensWork.

A couple of other Left-Coast photographers that are included are Hiroshi Watanabe, Aline Smithson, Ray Carfano and Larry Wiese of the 122 commentaries published. There is a strong emphasis on Modern Black and White Photography, there are some interesting Contemporary Black and White photographs included to make this a fairly diverse body of commentaries.

As a book object, the stiff cover book has a decent heft for the 264 pages and I am assuming from the high quality of the printing (another forte of LensWork), that this book was printed and bound by the same Vancouver, Canada printers that print the LensWork journal. Jensen has also included a QR code with each commentary that links to an audio file about this photograph and topic.

Cheers!

Douglas Stockdale

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June 7, 2014

Sarah Malakoff – Second Nature

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Copyright Sarah Malakoff 2013 published by CHARTA

Sarah Malakoff (b. 1972 Wellesley, MA and resides in Boston, MA) chose to photograph a subject that she knows well, the interior living spaces found in the greater Boston area where she was born and raised.

Her pensive photographs are characterized by a warmth and intimacy. These are not the staged interior photographs found in advertisements or glossy interior decorating magazines so common in America. The beds are ruffled and unmade, a box of clothing lies haphazard under a bed, a board game is askew on top of a table, and there are particles of soot lying on top of the carpet in front of the blazing fire, leaves and debris on the kitchen floor adjacent to the sliding door and the many lounging animals, both real and inanimate. Nevertheless her interiors are still a bit too clean and tidy, bordering on sterile, perhaps more indicative of the person who resides there than the photographer.

These are homes, not houses, a place where people reside as evidenced by the interiors. We are only indirectly introduced to the home owners by what and how they have chosen to decorate their residences. One might suspect that these homes are owned by cats and dogs, as these are the only ones present in Malakoff’s photographs. The inclusion of the cats and dogs are a subtle reminder that their owners, although out of sight, are not far away.

Malakoff has chosen to photograph her interiors with a middle ground composition, not focusing on details or grand views. It may perhaps be a practical matter, as many of the older New England homes have smaller rooms, tight quarters to use the nautical term, as compared to the mini-mansions now being built today across America. New England borders the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and many of the founders of this region worked the boats and sea, thus the nautical theme a popular motif, such as a basement bar made out to resemble the prow of a boat.

As such, this body of work is a study of identity, which in this case has a strong New England flavor. I recognize that these photographs are instilled with much of this regional essence and the interior home photographs would appear much different if compared to those found in the South, Midwest, Southwest or Pacific Coast of the United States.

Malakoff provides us with an opportunity to make a leisurely tour while visiting these diverse residences and wonder about who has chosen these places to nest, what interesting places might lurk just outside the windows and what events may have transpired in these wonderful warm and inviting places.

The hardcover book is nicely printed and bound in a way that allows the book to be opened fully without any image contest lost in the gutters. The interior photographs are either graced with a classic white margin, or a single image printed across a two page spread, with an edge bleed of three of the four sides and both image formats allows these photographs a pleasure to read.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook & co-published in Emaho magazine.

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June 1, 2014

Robin Maddock – III

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Photographs copyright 2014 of Robin Maddock, published by Trolley Books

The British photographer Robin Maddock (b. 1972 Leicester, UK, resides in Los Angeles USA & the UK) has taken an interesting departure from the his previous color documentary style, evidenced in his prior two books, with a more conceptual theme photographed in black and white. His subjects included three objects that Maddock introduces into the pictorial frame; sheets of white paper, ping pong balls and milk. This is a project photographed in California (San Francisco and Los Angeles) over a span of a couple of years with black and white film. As Maddock has stated “It is a product of California, not about it”.

Maddock has stated elsewhere that this book-project was a result of wanting to work on a change-up, a completely different project. His previous photographic work has garnered him some nice accolades and was developing a stylistic look. For some photographer/artist, developing a recognizable visual trademark is something that is sought after, while for others, like Maddock, it is akin to an artistic kiss of death.

For this project, he chooses to include three white objects which were found, positioned, tossed or flowed (spilled per Maddock) somewhere within the frame. As to why these three different objects, perhaps why not, but they each have unique physical characteristics and unified by sharing the same color. Another possibility is the sexual attributes that can be attributed to these objects with the ping pong balls have maleness, the milk is both male and femaleness and the flat white paper seemingly neutral.

Three is also one of those magical numbers. A good presenter knows that making three points in a presentation will have the most potential effect. One of something which is often repeated can become boring and repetitious. Two different subjects’ will add diversity to a message while three subjects add complexity as well as diversity. With four subjects the message begins to become overwhelming and losing too much focus. A photographer only has to look at his tripod to understand the concept.

Maddock’s ensuring photographs are a madcap range of the absurdity to the playful and witty, such as the tongue-in-cheek rubber band filled with milk or the ping pong ball sitting on top of the end of the rain spout. Maddock incorporates his own shadow into many of the photographs perhaps indicating a potential autobiographical nature of this project.

His photographs are a little higher in contrast with the shadows frequently become dark masses to push into a stronger graphic appearance. This also serves to push the whiteness of his introduced objects to a flatter and almost abstract quality. Maddock frequently uses a vertical format and tightly composes his photographs. As a conceptual project, I do wonder if this book might have received as much critical attention if it was Maddock’ s first book.

This book object is a bound hardcover book with a tipped-in image and embossed linen boards. Another well printed book by Grafiche Antiga (Italy), the go-to printer for Trolley Books, and the black and white photographs were printed on Tatami Ivory paper. The book does not contain an essay, pagination or captions leaving the reader entirely to their own interpretations. I did notice that the dark linen cover is a dust magnet and regretfully I did not get my book into a protective poly cover quick enough.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook and co-published in Emaho magazine

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April 18, 2014

Laura Braun – Metier – Small Businesses in London

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Copyright Laura Braun 2013 published by her imprint Paper Tigers Books

The recent book self-published under her imprint by Laura Braun, Metier, investigates the Small Business in London, which is a region where Braun resides.  The book is a combination of environment portraits of the persons engaged in a small business, a study of the business interiors and all in conjunction with brief statements made by her subjects, usually in the context of how they arrived at this business.

Since the term Metier was not well known to me, (a term that I never heard mentioned amongst the other small business owners in Southern California where our shop was residing), I thought it expansive to know more about this word in order to ground me as a reader.  Perhaps this is a far more common term in England, as in California those folks who run the small businesses are more commonly known as store owners, small businessman/women or for the hip stores, entrepreneur.

  1. A profession or trade, especially that to which one is well suited.
  2. A field of activity in which one has special ability or training; forte.

I suspect that the last part of the first definition creates more ambiguity in the reading of this book, as I find it extremely difficult to tell by looking a portrait or reading their statement that they are well suited to that professional trade.  The later found definition seems to have a better connotation and connection with Braun’s sociological study.

This book immediately resonates with me as many photographers, whether full time or part time profession, commercial, portrait or fine art, usually fall into this broad category of commerce.  And in fact she features three photographic oriented small businesses in her book.

As background, at one time my family owned and operated a storefront retail store selling a combination of picture framing services, do-it-yourself framing supplies as well a broad selection of fine arts materials. We were on the far end of main street and we quickly noticed the changes that began to occur with the local store businesses with the opening of a huge open mall near by. Similar to Braun’s environmental portraits of the store owner’s enclave, we also had the “back room” where all of the framing magic occurred and our framing team could relax a moment out of the spotlight of the customers gaze.

Her portraits are at once a look into the past and as well as potentially into the future for a small segment of society in North America and Western Europe.  In other parts of the developing world, these small business portraits probably do not appear as strange as family owned enterprises are the norm. Nevertheless with the continuing expansion of McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks other chains, even the far reaches of the globe may soon be similarly impacted.

In studying her photographs it seems that the store interiors provide a biographic environment, from the neat, tidy and well arranged to those on the ragged edge of total chaos, much like her subjects. There are also open questions asked by this body of work, such as to whether there might be a universality to small businesses.

Unlike the current trend of neutral appearing subjects, as if indifferent, it appears that Braun does not attempt to force her subjects into a predetermined formalistic pose. She captures what her subject’s offer, that perhaps this is part and parcel to her subject’s persona. She and her subjects provide the reader a little more of a hint as to one alternative reading of the photograph.

Likewise I find while reading this book recalling the various small shops and businesses I have frequented while some have made a lasting impression and memory to this day.

I do find this book to be a very enjoyable read.

The book has a stiff cover dust cover over a book block that has open thread binding. Okay, Braun describes the book as being naked bound with dust jacket, which I have discussed in much more detail in another post found here.  As a result of this style of binding, the book lays flat and viewing the interior spreads in combination with the smaller size of this publication is a pleasure. The flip side is that this is not a particularly strong type of binding thus the reader is encouraged to take a little more care in the book’s handling. My copy was immediately placed into a protective poly bag. In the captions for each small business, the subject as well as the physical location is identified. The Afterword was written by Dawn Lyon with the book design by Mel Duarte.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook & published concurrently with Emaho magazine.

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April 4, 2014

Nico Bick – P.I.

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Nick Bick copyright 2011, self-published

Nico Bick’s P.I. is a study of what is purported to be the one of the most well-known prisons in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the Over-Amstel Penitentiary Institution locally known as Bijlmerbajes (Bijlmer Jail). Using a documentary style, Bick photographed the cells of prisoners, isolation cells, communal rooms and holding cells. Bick also include an area that is most relevant to the prison administration; the control rooms and an area equally important to the prisoners; the doors leading out of the facilities.

Interestingly, the book is unbound and the interior sheets are folded and tucked together. I think that there might have been initially some order to how these pages were arranged, but over the last couple of years, while I continued looking at these sheets I have managed to create a jumble in the presentation. I suspect that that was part of Bick’s plan to allow the reader to rearrange and create their own order out of the inherent madness associated with a tightly regimented prison system.

Perhaps with the exception of the prisoner’s rooms and control rooms, the areas photographed within this institution are ambiguous. The facility appears almost too clean and sterile with the exception of one type of room that seems to invite graffiti. The locations are photographed without the presence of the prisoners or their guards, but we sense that due to the nature of this place, someone maybe just beyond the scope of Bick’s lens. This is a man-built structure with a very specific purpose in mind.

In stark comparison to the photographs of the US jails and prisons interiors, in which the prisoners are living in a mass communal, the individual rooms appear to be only a slight departure from someone’s home residence. Each room appears to be designed for an inhabited by a single individual; each provided a window, blue curtains, a corner table with a small television and coffee maker and an adjoining chair. On the shelves above the single bed is a place to hold books, snacks, or a photograph. Some of these rooms look Spartan as though just occupied, other have the accumulated debris that comes with too much time. Bick’s photographs appear objective and not judgmental of the current situation and circumstances.

As a book object, it has tri-fold stiff cover, with the interior panels containing thumbnail photographs and captions that provide an index to the interior sheets. The four color interior sheets are folded and loose (unbound). An introduction is provided on another loose sheet by Frits Gierstberg while the book was designed by Joost Grootens.

Footnote: This is one of the photobooks that I received in early 2012 and which never seemed to make through my photobook review cycle. Nevertheless the book’s intriguing design in conjunction with the clearly seen yet stark photographs made a strong impression and this book keeping lingering in my memory as a book that needed to be discussed.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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April 1, 2014

Douglas Ljungkvist – Ocean Beach

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Copyright Douglas Ljungkvist 2013 published by Kehrer Heidelberg Verlag

Ocean Beach is a photographic project that Douglas Ljungkvist (b. 1965, Gothenburg, Sweden, resides in Brooklyn, NY) initiated in 2009. The original intent of Ocean Beach was to investigate a region located in the midst of a 200 mile stretch of the barrier island located off the American coast of the New Jersey. A coastal stretch that is a well-known summer holiday destination.

Ljungkvist’s project took an unanticipated and epic twist when in October 2012 this region was directly slammed by Hurricane Sandy. During the ensuing storm, the magic bubble surrounding this holiday retreat was burst and totally shattered.

The book opens with an investigation of furnished rental structures that are designed and built for a holiday escape. Even the name of the Ocean Beach rental homes, called cottages, is meant to evoke thoughts of a lyrical English country side. The cottage exteriors area characterized by their pastel colors; sea foam greens, peach, tans, light gray, and sky blue. The cottage interiors complement the cottage exteriors with a similar color palette which Ljungkvist humorously pairs together on facing pages. Few individuals are present in his photographs with the exception of one crowed photographed during what appears to be a summer beach party.

The light and airy colors of the cottages are meant to set the mood for the ensuing sunny, balmy, summer vacation days. Ocean Beach is a destination to have fun times and not be reminded of the stuff of home; work, bills and yard work. A sugary and candy sweetness abounds. No distractions, no industrial buildings or high rise offices on this part of the Jersey Shore, just sand and surf and the warm sun to bask in.

As stated by Harvey Benge in his Introduction; “These pictures address issues of conformity and of pervasive empty consumerism. We are confronted with a bizarre version of the American Dream that embodies the unrelenting desire for happiness constructed from a determined yet fragile sense of self-value and apple-pie radiant optimism.”

In October 2012 a Hurricane named Sandy devastated much of the American East Coast region as this huge storm hit landfall. Ocean Beach and the length of the Jersey Shore absorbed the brunt of the savage gale winds and surging ocean. In the twinkling of an eye the fate of nature altered this idyllic landscape, much as nature has wreaked similar havoc in many parts of the world.

In the post-Sandy photographs, his photographic perspective was altered and expanded to include the beach as well as the outlying ocean. In an interview with Ljungkvist, he stated that “it felt important as the ocean and sand was a large contribution to the destruction.”

Ljungkvist photographs of the Ocean Beach destruction have a calm and objective perspective without the drama of the storm. The skies are now clear blue with hints of sea haze, while the ocean is relatively flat and calm and is no longer threatening.

His documentary style photographs are almost coolly clinical in his middle view point perspective.  His photographs of the damaged structure were taken well after the event has transpired and an almost ghostly quietness has come over the area. He reveals the crushed homes with sand drifts flowing through the living areas, bedrooms in shambles, wrecked furniture and kitchens all askew.

Amongst the ruin is the construction equipment attempting to take control of the damage and new piles of dirt are mute testimony of their labor. There are profuse footprints on the layers of sand covering the interiors and other evidence that mankind is now in the midst of wrestling with the consequences of this storm. The devastation is no less, but appears more benign in the light of a clear day.

Ljungkvist narrative has change mid-chapter into a story about uncontrollable nature, chance, unplanned events, much as life itself. It is true serendipity as to where nature’s full impact and fury will occur. If possible, mankind can take cover or get out of its path and then deal with the aftermath the best we know how. His photographs that capture a glimpse of the construction equipment imply that the process of resurrection has begun. Similarly the photograph of the destroyed house in the foreground while in the background, high on a mound of fresh dirt, stands an erect and defiant American flag, signifying hope, determination and American optimism.

The hard book has an image wrap cover book with superb four-color offset litho printing on a semi-luster paper. The book includes essays by Harvey Benge and Steve Bission with the text in English. The pages are numbered while the photographs do not have any captions allowing the reader to create their own stories.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook and co-published by Emaho magazine

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March 8, 2014

Andrew G. Smith – Steel Soul

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Copyright Andrew G. Smith 2013 self-published with Smith’s imprint bymyi

Andrew G. Smith’s industrial subject, the industrial infrastructure and operations of an active steel mill, is not the usual genre to attract a photographer. Nevertheless the intricate complexity of these industrial landscapes has earlier attracted the like of Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and recent contemporaries as the team of Bernd and Hilla Becher, Pierre Bessard and Mitch Epstein.

Due to the fading manufacturing industry in the Western World, industrial sites are much more prone to be subjects of ruin-porn with gutted facilities surrounded by environmental decay. This is the subject material in the recent photographic essays of Christoph Lingg’s Shut Down or Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre’s The Ruins of Detroit.

Perhaps why so few active industrial sites are investigated is probably that these are not very accessible to photographers or the public at large. These are dangerous places for those who are unaware of the safety precautions that are in place, not realizing that there specific places to be in order to stay out of harm’s way. The industrial landscape is usually the domain of the annual report photographers who compose carefully orchestrated images to position the company in the best light.

Smith by comparison has been provided access to a very active Steel Mill located in the Yorkshire region of Great Briton. This is an industrial area long associated with various steel works dating back to the 1700’s. This particular site is one of the few working mills still remaining in this region.

It can be relatively easy to capture the façade of a working industrial site, although the exterior usually only hints at the complex activities occurring within. To facilitate this project, Smith segmented his book into four basic chapters aligned with the flow of steel, following it from the furnace to final products; Melt, Foundry, Forge, and Machine.

Smith is drawn the abstract attributes of this industrial landscape, distilling it to line, mass, tone, shape, texture while working with the available light. At times, that light glows from within, created by the massive hot steel as it flows from the furnace to the foundry. Even though this place is a man-driven operation, perhaps like Bern and Hilla Becher, Smith has minimized his inclusions of the workers, instead focusing mainly on the infrastructure and workings.

I can relate to these photographs, as my background includes countless trips through similar environments as a part of my technical day-job. For me it is easy to imagine the accompanying din and racket that engulfs you, such that ear plugs are necessary to prevent one from going temporarily deaf. It makes communication difficult, thus a person needs to pay close attention to where they walk or stand. Similar, I can also imagine the smells of such an operation, ranging from sharply acidic to a sweet machine oil fragrance. As to the feel and texture, the soles of your steel toed work books are embedded with debris which you can sense with each step and there may be a fine layer of soot covering your clothes, hopefully given the benefit of a smock. Although I may be wearing a safety helmet, my hair feels course and dirty while you can feel like the soot is still embedded in the pores of your face after, even after many washings late at home that night.

Smith can only provide a glimpse into the workings of this huge industrial space. I know that I relate to this body of work much differently than will most readers. It connects with me and I sense that his objective investigation is true.

The book is printed in luminous black and white with a stiff cover binding. The wide horizontal format of the book is ideally suited to a full frame 35mm or digital camera. An Introduction essay is provided by Smith; the plates are identified and at the conclusion of the book an index of captions is provided for the photographic plates. The photographic plates are surrounded by a nice white margin that makes reading this book enjoyable.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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March 2, 2014

W. Eugene Smith – The Big Book

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Photographs copyright the estate of W. Eugene Smith 2013 co-published by University of Texas Press, Austin & Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona

W. Eugene Smith’s The Big Book is a very interesting and unusual three volume set that includes a two volume facsimile of the maquette (book dummy)  developed by Smith in 1960 and a third volume with supporting essays, reference photographs and information about the maquette.

The Big Book maquette spans the majority of the late W. Eugene Smith’s oeuvre, an American photojournalist (b. 1918 – d. 1978 ) who developed the concept for the photo-essay. Smith was a perfectionist with a thorny personality, who set the standard for the photo-essay high for future generations of photographers.

The Center for Creative Photography (CfCP) at the University of Arizona has possession of the W. Eugene Smith archive. It is the location of the original The Big Book maquette and the photographic source for most of the content of this three volume set. The CfCP collaborated with the University of Texas Press to publish this extensive body of work. Smith had created this maquette between 1960 and 1961 to visually illustrate his concept for the various book publishers but regretfully The Big Book was not completed or published in Smith’s lifetime.

In the Notes of Volume 3 the materials of the two volume maquette are described as follows; the pages are heavyweight machine made paper, cream in color, with the images attached by means of a glossy yellow rubber-based adhesive. The images in the maquette appear to be made by means of the Afga Copyrapid reproductive process, essentially a very early office copy machine (photocopying). The fluctuations in the color, ranging from yellow to brown tints, of the maquette images reflect the instability of this photocopying process over time. Due to the deterioration of the images within the original maquette, the muddled and blocked images are difficult at places to clearly read, complicating an already messy state of affairs for this maquette.

As stated by William S. Johnson in his introduction to this set, “The book, like many of Smith’s endeavors, was impractical in is scope, unconventional it its format and uncompromising it its demands on the reader. Occasionally incomprehensible, often lyrical, always passionate, the book challenged traditional ideas about layout and design, and attempted to establish a new form or expression for the photographic essay.”

I agree with Johnson, the maquette is a real mash-up of images and it is difficult to view this as an elegant photo-essay that Smith had so frequently advocated during his life time. Stepping back, I find myself viewing this body of work as being more in sync with the current contemporary concepts of creating a visceral experience. In this context, Smith is well before his time, similar to the ground breaking photographic work of Eugene Atget, Robert Frank and Walker Evans.

There is an absence of text, captions and pagination within the two volume maquette as these details would probably have been included at the final publication stage of the ensuing photobook. What the reader will find included are Smith’s hand written notes that accompany specific photographs, as an example a note to check on the cropping of a specific image. Essentially a maquette was not created to be a permanent record, but temporal to communicate the essence of a book concept, as a visual aid to the publisher. Nevertheless, Smith’s maquette has become a semi-permanent record of one photographer’s endeavors, now taking a life of its own and being shared with a much wider audience.

As to the layout design of the maquette, it is said that Smith drew heavy inspiration from the Edward Steichen’s 1955 exhibition and subsequent book Family of Man, for which Smith has contributed five images, including the closing photograph titled The Walk to Paradise Garden. Smith chose this same photograph to open as well as close The Big Book.

As a book object, the three volume set is an embodiment of a time and place. Part historical, preserving the deteriorating remainders of a work of art in progress and a raw creative endeavor of a gifted photographer and artist, while providing a glimpse into the makings of what might have been a wonderful photobook. We are to remember that this maquette was not meant to be polished and luminous final object, more akin to a sketch pad for the photographer to privately share with a publisher, never meant to see the light of day. I think that reading the two volume maquette is similar in experience for a visit to Florence and viewing one of Michelangelo’s partially complete sculptures, a raw and incomplete work, gaining a glimpse into the working of a very creative mind.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook   This review was co-published in Emaho magazine.

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February 9, 2014

Clint Woodside – Undercover Cars

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Copyright Clint Woodside 2013 published by Deadbeat Club press (#07)

Woodside’s subject is cars found in Southern California which have some protective cover placed over them. The car cover has a dual role, protect the car from the natural elements, in Southern California that is predominately the sun, as well as being a deterrent to car thieves.

Woodside reveals a whimsical and satirical side in his documentary of the effectiveness of the car covers. He photographs covers that barely conceal a vehicle, covers that are providing an ineffective concealment, or a car that is in such a deplorable state of condition that the reader wonders why this car needs any protection whatsoever. His secondary narratives include the mystery that surrounds these concealed cars and calls into question the car culture of Southern California.

This type of stiffcover book publication is commonly referred to as a Zine, which utilizes the saddle stitch (staples) binding common of many early magazines. Interestingly, many large circulation and popular magazines today have stiff covers and due to the quantity of pages, are perfect bound (hot glue) and have an actual spine. Zines usually do not have a spine as a hardcover book might and by nature of their binding, usually lay very flat.

The book does not include pagination, captions or text.

FYI, the second image below includes Woodside’s signature which I acquired during the recent LA Art Book Fair.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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February 8, 2014

Paul Seawright – Volunteer

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Copyright Paul Seawright 2013 published by Artist Photo Books

Paul Seawright’s earlier photographic work provides the conceptual foundation for this photobook. In his Sectarian Murder, 1988 he photographed the sites of sectarian murders around Belfast and removed reference to the victim’s religion. By depoliticizing the violence, Seawright focuses on the extensive civilian losses that occurred during this conflict. In his 2002 Afghanistan photographs, Seawright photographs artifacts that remain after a conflict again attempting to depoliticize the events that led to the violence.

In Volunteer, Seawright investigates the locations and sites adjacent to where the US military recruits. His narrative provides an examination of location of the US military recruitment centers sprinkled around the country and thus investigates the US Military recruit practices. His bleak viewpoint is focused away from the actual recruitment centers and out toward the surrounding urban landscape. It is his attempt to describe where, thus indirectly who, are the individuals that the US military is seeking to recruit.

The selected body of work depicts urban locations commonly found on the fringes of society. Many of the store fronts are vacant, structures are abandoned and the parking lots are virtually empty. This body of work is meant to be another series of depoliticizing photographs. Nevertheless these images are other than coldly objective, providing a subtle criticism of violence and war. Most of the photographic form is somber, featuring forlorn man-built landscapes predominantly captured during overcast days to create dreary feeling landscapes.

This is an image wrap hardcover book, without pagination or captions. The Introductory essay is by Seawright. The book’s binding is Smyth sewn which allows for a wonderful lay-flat read and was printed in four-color by Cassochrome in Belgium.

Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

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