The PhotoBook Journal

June 20, 2018

David Lynch – Nudes

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 6:03 pm

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Photographer:  David Lynch (born in Missoula, Montana; lives in Los Angeles, California)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York, NY in association with Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; © 2017; published in the United States in June 2018

Cloth-bound hardback with transparent printed dust cover; 240 unpaginated pages with 125 black-and-white and color photographs; 10¼ x 13¾ inches (26 x 35 cm); printed and bound by Grafiche Antiga, Treviso, Italy

Text:  English and French

Photobook Designer:  Atelier Dyakova, London

 

Notes:

David Lynch, multi-talented storyteller of mysteries and well-received artist working in several media, has applied his keen eye to observing and photographing women’s bodies, culminating in this interesting project. In this sumptuously printed large-format volume he presents 125 images, most in black and white, with a color section in the center portion.

Unlike some predecessors whose work is marked by in-your-face grit (Araki, Moriyama) or distorted representations of the female body (Brandt, Fellig, Kertész, among others), Lynch presents a more mysterious, cinematically influenced celebration of forms, lines, and juxtapositions to entice the viewer. The black and white photographs at times seem semi-abstract, to the point where the viewer might not recognize what portions of the body are gazed upon, which encourages guessing; the color section, on the other hand, emphasizes red and reddish tones – lips, skin – and seems to make a more direct, erotically charged presentation. While the volume is entitled NUDES, the project includes all kinds of body forms and body locations, including faces – a landscape approach to the body that keeps the viewer marveling from beginning to end of the entire sequence.

This volume also intrigues the viewers with interruptions and detours in the progression of curves and lines. The light areas are pointers to the sections in darkness whose continuation can often only be imagined. In addition to being a superb master of light and shadow,  Lynch also uses focus to great effect in order to increase suspense and tension in his compositions; out-of-focus curves and areas imply parts unknown or out of reach of the viewer, and are teasingly left to the imagination. The work in color has a dreamy, mysterious quality to it, possibly best described as free-flowing portraiture mixed with ethereal eroticism. There is a playful mix of semi-abstract representation and lively realism in the flow of the work. The images speak for themselves; there is no preface or other essay.

As Lynch has stated in his book Catching the Big Fish, the greatest ideas are in the deepest water, and some daring is required to delve into them and do a thorough exploration. This volume is a creative and appealing presentation of female bodyscapes, sure to become a classic. Highly recommended!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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June 16, 2018

Simon Roberts – Merrie Albion

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Photographer: Simon Roberts (born & resides Great Britain)

Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK, 2017

Text: English

Introduction by David Chandler and essays by A L Kennedy, Alex Vasudevan, Carol Ann Duffy, David Matless, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Ian Jeffrey, Irenosen Okojie, Nikesh Shukla and Tristram Hunt.

Hard cover, sewn binding, four-color lithography, detailed captions, pagination, printed by Petit S.K. Lublin, Poland

Photobook designer: Ben Weaver

Notes: Urban and cultural landscape photographer Simon Roberts photobook Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island is another visual investigation of his homeland, the encompassing urban landscape of the United Kingdom. That he chose a title which in old English would mean Merry Britain might imply that he is investigating the heritage of this country, perhaps with a nod towards the evil spirits of Nationalism. Happily it is anything but.

This book also draws on the time of his earlier investigating English rituals in 2007 that resulted in We English, subsequently the outer edges of the British urban landscape in Pierdom, as well as his time when he was commissioned to photograph the U.K elections of 2010. The book contains only photographs that until now have been unpublished. This is a compilation body of work that attempts to take a straight forward pulse on the many social changes that create the current fabric of this island nation. The on-going flux of those coming to this country from other places, a process which can trace its roots to the early colonial age of this nation, thus creating a melting pot of cultures. The pending political and economic changes of its disassociation from the European Union (E.U.).

Suffice to say, what might constitute current Britain is mash-up of the old with the new. As has been noted in the accompanying essays, Roberts landscape photography has attained a subtle trademark look; using a large format camera, non-romantic (aka factual, dead-pan) framing and frequently a viewpoint from a higher elevation that creates an interesting depth to his landscapes. The later due mostly in part to his use of the top of his motor-home as a camera platform. This camera position provides a pictorial framing that is broader in scope, but conversely, such as the Download Festival at Castle Donington, can also make him the center of attention.

The resulting photobook is complex and visually layered, much as his subject Merry Britain, and a delight to read. Recommended.

Other photobooks by Simon Roberts featured on The PhotoBook Journal: Pierdom, and We English.

Cheers!

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May 31, 2018

Douglas Stockdale – Middle Ground / En Medio Tierra

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Photographer:  Douglas Stockdale (born in Butler, PA; living in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)

Self-published artist book of 31 images hand-bound by the artist in an accordion (leporello) presentation, yielding 66 pages (blank verso), attached to stiff covers with flip-over French fold; 8.5×6.75 inches; printed in four-color lithography by Dual Graphics, Brea, California; edition of 99 plus 5 artist proofs; © 2018

Text:  English and Spanish

Photobook Designer:  Douglas Stockdale

Notes: This innovative artist book by Douglas Stockdale brings to mind the parable “Before the Law” by Franz Kafka, in which a man is confronted by what seems to be an overwhelming obstacle and fails to overcome it, even though he could have, as we who are the readers readily understand. How often in life are we confronted by small barriers that can easily become seemingly overwhelming …

Here is a volume of innovatively presented and artfully sequenced freeway observations. The 31 photographs that Douglas Stockdale has arranged in leporello (accordion) fashion constitute a panorama of barriers. We sense the static moments of being stuck in stop-and-go traffic, repeated moments sufficient to take photographs of dividers put up for traffic purposes, with ‘beautification’ planters placed behind them. There is the aggravation of heavy traffic along the Interstate 5 route toward the border in San Diego; there is the annoyance and challenge of being separated from that which lies beyond the barriers. And we observe details: some houses, some palm trees, the national flag almost beyond reach, and other structures to which we can’t immediately relate. And yet there must be other people there … who and where might they be? And some of the barriers are much less than perfect, they show damage or are surrounded by debris. It is a less than perfect, seemingly endless constructed landscape.

So we can consider this project, which is a typology of barriers, a metaphor for the barriers and separators of all kinds that people wish to throw between and among us. Especially in our current moment in time there are many whose main task is to foment social, racial, and/or economic anger and pin it on the “others,” whether we are talking about ethnic, social, economic, or other groups.

Can we overcome these barriers? Of course we can. Look at Stockdale’s images: there are gaps one can squeeze through, there are small boards or a bit of sand to help us take the first step beyond, to let the middle ground lead us toward reaching a better understanding of those that may be different, yet almost within reach. In every country there are many ethnic, economic,  religious groups or segments of the population with somewhat different belief systems, individual preferences, or somewhat different shades of skin color that some wish to marginalize or not give the full respect they deserve. It is important to overcome such barriers and to take the all-important steps toward others. Truly united societies require respectful collaboration rather than splintering into subgroups, and Stockdale’s visual compendium can be an impetus toward overcoming barriers and obstacles.

This project invites each viewer to engage with the presentation and to find individual meanings. It is my guess that this volume, which has been given a bilingual slant but no artist admonition as to its interpretation, will become quite a collector’s item. I would advise you to get your copy while you can, as the edition is very small. For those of you who can make it to L.A. this weekend, Stockdale will give an artist presentation about this work at the closing reception of the exhibition on Saturday, June 2, at 4-7 p.m., Fabrik Projects Gallery, 2636 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA (near Culver City).

The PhotoBook Journal has previously featured or reviewed the following other books by Douglas Stockdale:  Ciociaria, In Passing, Pine Lake, Bluewater Shore, and Guide to Self-Publishing an Indie Artist Book.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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May 28, 2018

Christoph Oeschger – They’ve Made Us Ghosts

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 6:51 pm

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Photographer:  Christoph Oeschger (born and living in Zürich, Switzerland)

Publisher:  cpress, Zürich, Switzerland; © 2017

Essay:  Léopold Lambert

Text:  English

Softcover, naked-stitched binding with transparent dust cover; 140 pages, non-paginated, with 1060 photographs; 16×26 cm; edition of 600 copies; printed by Graphius, Ghent, Belgium

Photobook Designers:  Christof Nüssli, Christoph Oeschger, Chiara Zarotti

 

Notes:

Over the last several decades, the world has been especially troubled by new migrations from countries that represent trouble spots to their people. The reasons can be political, religious, cultural, economic, or any combination. Often the destination seems like some kind of paradise in comparison to the place of departure, but the journey toward that supposed paradise is arduous and in itself a major challenge for all concerned, while the nearly impossible dream of a better future keeps the refugees’ hopes alive.

Previously, I have reviewed some photobooks here that concentrated on the fundamental strife in these countries of origin, such as Paula Bronstein’s Afghanistan – Between Hope and Fear, and Giles Duley’s One Second of Light. In this volume, Oeschger examines one geographic area – the refugee detention areas in the Calais region – one of the bottleneck transition sites as people flee from Africa and the Middle East toward European destinations, toward hoped-for relief.

This volume contains 1060 photographs, a veritable typology of unpleasant places to stay, and is arranged in two interspersed types of sections: the environmental surroundings are shown on pages mostly printed flush; the glued inserts are printed on more glossy paper and show glimpses of refugee life in small snapshot-like images, moments that are almost impossible to share, as we almost never see their faces, nor are their activities mostly a part of what we can see clearly either. A distance has been created both physically and visually, to match the physical. Oeschger has managed to create a presentation of these sequestered and walled-in areas that definitely makes us feel uncomfortable – “there but for fortune go you or I,” as the old Phil Ochs/Joan Baez song goes. The indignities of imposed structures or self-created improvised sleeping quarters, as well as the overall semi-clinical sequestering, heaped on top of old horrors experienced by the refugees and migrants in their home countries, are indeed a heavy burden to bear. This volume is a visual wake-up call for  those (people and countries) who want to push these pressing problems aside. The essay by Léopold Lambert and the historical chart provide further background on the issues and their contexts.  Those who are truly in need of protection do deserve decent treatment. And aren’t we all fervently hoping for a better future?

Christoph Oeschger and his team have managed to create a compelling presentation that makes its points by combining techniques from photojournalism and fine art. The vast number of images of the walled-in areas have the effect of showing the humans as being seen as quite marginal. Many of the shots are intentionally blurry or indistinct, to give us something to puzzle over. The colors are mostly muted, to convey the dreariness of the place. The transparent red cover creates a feeling of immediate urgency and danger; the vast surroundings of the camp areas and the furtive glimpses of the refugees cause in us a cathartic sharing of conditions full of improvisation and emergency, a sense of void and emptiness for which we wish there were better solutions. A powerful volume, check it out for yourself!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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May 14, 2018

LA Pages – Book Fair for Independent West Coast Publishers

LA Pages – Book Fair for Independent West Coast Publishers

Dates: May 18-19-20th

Times: 11am – 8pm

Location: Mayra’s Banquet Hall, 6075 Normandie Ave, Los Angeles (yes, believe it or not, just below South Park)

This event is produced by 8-Ball Community, Bunny Jr and Ooga Booga, and it’s a one time only, not for profit and in memory of Shannon Michael Cane. Everyone is welcome, & FREE entry!

With 80+ exhibitors.

THU 5/17 – FUNDRAISER EVENT
Food by Familia Romero
Music performance by Yanga (8pm)

FRI 5/18
Music curated by 8-Ball Radio
Food by Natural Soul Food
Music performance by Black Congress (7pm)
Future Preservation / Short film festival curated by 8-Ball TV & Symposium (8pm)

SAT 5/19
Music curated by Bunny Jr.
Food by Mai Downs
Music performance by É Arenas (7pm)

SUN 5/20
Music curated by Kchung Radio
Food by Natural Soul Food
Music performance by Jazzy Romero (7pm)

May 6, 2018

Acid-Free Los Angeles Art Book Market 2018

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Acid-Free LA Art Book Market, Blum & Poe 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

This past weekend, May 4-6th, 2018 was the first Acid-Free LA Art Book Market held at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, near the Culver City Art District.

This is a new left coast art book event that occurred this weekend here in Southern California/Los Angeles. Regretfully this event did not get onto my radar until the last few days until various publishers and galleries announced their booth information. Fortunately for me, the location at Blum and Poe is literally across the street from the gallery that represents me, Fabrik Projects and where my exhibition was opening Saturday morning.

So a two-fer for a Saturday; check-in at Fabrik Projects to ensure everything was copacetic for my exhibition, Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra, and then pop across the street to quickly check out Acid-Free. Since my leporello book dummy for Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra was also being exhibited, this allowed me to Segway to my exhibition while talking self-published books and book designs. A win-win. Or at least I thought so (yuk, yuk).

Acid-Free is a three-day art book market organized by a collective of Los Angeles based independent publishers. Approximately 80 exhibitors, both local and International, with video, music, programming, and some food and drink.  I am still unsure of the reason for this Art Book Market’s name of Acid-Free and no one present could explain it either. Another mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Attendance was lighter than I expected compared to the Saturday mob usually found at the alternative event hosted by Printed Matter and their LA Art Book Fair. (note: LA Art Book Fair was canceled this year due to unforeseen events). Most of my book friends were not aware of this event until the middle of last week.

Nevertheless, still in attendance were some of my local and international favorite publishers and book stores; Lucy Soto with Artbook, Clint Woodside with his Dead Beat Club, Tricia at The Ice Plant, Morel Books, Chris and his Nazraeli Press, TBW Books, Hassla, Winfried Heininger (he was putting more money in the meter and missed photographing him) and his Swiss Kodoji Press and some local galleries were present as well, such as Kopeikin Gallery (Paul giving me his stoic gallery gaze) and Peter Fetterman Gallery.

As anticipated, I left with my share of photobooks tucked in my kit-bag; Deanna Templeton’s They Should Never Touch the Ground, pub 2015 by Dead Beat Club (#31); Lucas Foglia’s Human Nature, pub 2017 Nazraeli Press; Alejandro Cartagena’s Santa Barbara Shame on US, pub 2017 Skinnerboox & distributed by Kopekin Gallery, and Mark Klett’s Traces of Eden: Travels in the Desert Southwest, pub 1986 David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc (also signed by Klett) and copies are still available from Kopekin Gallery.

And of course, just a tiny bit of book publishing gossip. Really, just a tiny bit.

Cheers,

Douglas

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May 5, 2018

Nuno Moreira – She Looks Into Me

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 4:56 pm

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Photographer:  Nuno Moreira (born and lives in Lisbon, Portugal)

Texts:  Poem by Paul Éluard; prose by Adolfo Luxúria Canibal; foreword by M. F. Sullivan; afterword by Jesse Freeman

Languages:  English and Portuguese

Self-published softcover with flaps; naked-bound and glued to the rear board; 22×28 cm (8.7×11 inches); 84 unnumbered pages with 42 black-and-white photographs; first limited edition of 200 copies, printed in Portugal by Guide; © 2018

Photobook designer:  NM Design

 

Notes:

This photographic project by Nuno Moreira, as presented in this volume, creates a very puzzling and potentially moving experience for the viewer. Relationships and all that they engender – genesis, growth, possibly also decline, and the specter of cessation – are ever-present themes in this book, which provides both visual depth and tactile pleasure. This is a volume that can have a strong effect on the viewer: it is a journey to the interior via the exterior.

The images are presented in three sections:  I. Being; II. Becoming; III. Unbecoming. This choice of headings suggests a process, and, indeed, the sections show a progression of  dreamlike appearances of figures oscillating and interacting between light and shadow. This is definitely the work of a photographer’s photographer. Canibal in the prose piece writes: “She knows that time swallows life and drains the light away, leaving the faces with the infinite sadness of primordial grief.” And: “The whispering figures represent the fleeting expression of this unspeakable disturbance that consumes her.” We get impressions of bodies and souls interacting and parting, the carousel of life, dancing in a circle, as it goes round and round to its beginnings, over and over. Thus you can traverse the book from front to end and back again. The double meaning of the word unbecoming also supports the idea that loss is always harder to take, not only personally, but also in a social context.

The individuals shown are of different ages and genders, in a variety of combinations, with females constituting the central figure “She.” We can surmise the possibilities or the existence of one or a variety of relationships, to be projected into the pictures by each viewer, depending on his or her life experiences and preferences. We see individuals touching each other or not, partly clothed or not, tastefully presented. There are also moments of being alone. The ambiguity of who belongs to whom, for what purpose, and for how long (if at all!) is where the mystery of the book comes into play. There is also a large bone-like structure in some of the images, perhaps a tusk or other part that seems to have once belonged to a large animal. In the shape of a boomerang, it perhaps reminds us about the mutuality and universality of interactions and of the circularity of life itself. Perhaps it is a reminder of loss, or of death as the ultimate loss; wilted flowers are also shown at the end of the book. Ambiguity consistently drives the visuals, and the untangling of the interplay between fantasy and reality becomes the viewer’s personal task.

The literary pieces and the essays – poem, foreword, afterword, prose (the latter presented in a separate, attractive bilingual booklet) – are also interesting, as they support the wholistic approach of Nuno Moreira, and also shed light on his previous work. I am also very pleased that the author chose naked stitched binding as a tool for the pages of the volume, as it allows the double-page spreads to lie flat, giving the viewer a closer viewing experience, as if glancing at an album, rather than a more tightly bound conventional book.

An important work of fine art photography that engages the viewer/reader in a variety of ways – visually, textually, and viscerally.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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April 26, 2018

Pre-order; Douglas Stockdale – Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra

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Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra (book dummy) 2018 Douglas Stockdale

As I just announced on my personal photo-blog Singular Images, I am very excited to accept pre-orders for my artist book Middle Ground/En Medio Tierra! Which is one of the reasons that I have not been providing book reviews for the past couple of weeks. The other wonderful reason for my absence is that the book publication will occur concurrent with the exhibition of this body of work at Fabrik Projects, a gallery located in Los Angeles (adjacent to Culver City), which opens May 5th and runs through June 2nd, 2018. The artist reception will be on Saturday, May 12th, so if you are on the left coast at that time, I hope you can join me from 6-8pm on the 12th.

Also, I was just notified by Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP), that two of the photographs from this project were selected for their third annual Fine Arts exhibition which will exhibit concurrently. This is a new experience for me!

This project investigates an urban landscape in a documentary style. Although this project was initially developed as a political satire to create a parody of “bigley” wall on the America”s southern border with Mexico, it has come to symbolically represent some issues that are more universal. This American landscape is a metaphor for political, economic, social, and cultural barriers and walls that people create to impede the progress and acceptance of others. If you are building or maintaining walls, you are not building bridges to acceptance. Aesthetically, this project has already been likened to a mash-up of Ed Ruscha’s “Every Building on the Sunset Strip” with Christo’s “Running Fence”.

The books will be ready to ship by the middle to end of next month. I am doing the leporello binding and it may take me a little while to complete each of the dozen connections required for these artist books.

So here are the artist book publication details:

Self-published, publication date; May 2018 (concurrent with exhibition at Fabrik Projects, Los Angeles, CA)

Stiff covers with flap-over French fold, Leporello book design

Pages: 66 pages (blank verso)

Photographs: 31 Images, color

Printing: 4 color lithographic printing

Leporello binding: hand-bound by the artist

Book design and layout by the artist

Artist book, edition size 99 + 5 A/P

Book trim size: 6-1/2” x 8-1/4” (165mm x 210mm)

Acknowledgements & Colophon, without essays, captions or pagination

Text: English and Spanish

Cover paper: 18 pt C1s Tango

Interior paper: 80# GPA Uncoated Text (Gloss)

Retail price: $59.50 USD (CA residents add sales tax)

I can process your book orders through Paypal. Until May 5th, for those in the United States, the price will include my shipping costs. For outside the U.S. I need to add an additional $15.00 to the cost of the book for shipping (if it turns out that it is more, I will absorb it).

Note: since the book will not been printed until next week, the book images are from my book-dummy.

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April 22, 2018

Jeffrey Milstein – LA NY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York

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Photographer:  Jeffrey Milstein (born in Los Angeles, California; lives in Woodstock, New York)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York City; © 2017

Essays:  Jay Maisel, Owen Hopkins, Jeffrey Milstein

Text:  English

Hardcover, sewn, with illustrated dust cover; 10×13 inches; 144 numbered pages with 84 photographs; printed in China

Photobook Designers:  Jeffrey Milstein with Abigail Sturges

 

Notes:

This volume was selected by the Editors to be featured in celebration of Earth Day, April 22, 2018.
“The best of art is not only beautiful, it surprises, it delights, and it challenges our past perceptions.”
Jay Maisel (Foreword)

 

Without a doubt, the impact humans have had on this planet of ours invites exploration and exposition of all sorts. But only a photographer with a love of both art and flying, and one who also has the combined talents of Jeffrey Milstein (architect, graphic designer, and dedicated visual artist) is able to open our eyes to the impact we have had on this earth, and make it a pleasure to view such a complex subject at the same time.

Milstein has done a fantastic job taking us under his wings, so to speak:  for several years he has dangled his high-definition cameras out of helicopters and small planes, shooting straight down to show us what a giant bird in the sky might observe, catching portions of Los Angeles and New York. The results take us to visual adventures that make us question our own nature as well – what do we consider important and necessary in order to cause major impact on our environment?

The book is divided into four parts: Neighborhoods – Commerce – Parks and Recreation – Transportation and Industry. The sections are accompanied by brief introductory comments, and the images are presented with specific captions. There are many parallels between East Coast and West Coast, as well as some contrasts, of course. What strikes us most is the newly found magnificence and beauty of even the most often viewed icons (Statue of Liberty, Getty Museum, Coney Island, Santa Monica Pier) or of mundane subjects, such as giant parking areas, whether filled or empty. From a greater distance, and with the specific eye of Milstein making selections rotating the viewpoint, selecting time of day and lighting, and specific cropping decisions, this takes it to a realm of artistry far beyond much of the drone photography presented by others, since the photographer is directly involved at all times, and specific intervention and a relationship to the subject is maintained throughout the process; this is also very evident in the final images as presented. The layout and sequence were also given careful attention: daytime shots are often surrounded by white borders, night shots by black ones, especially if paired in a spread and not printed flush as single horizontals. The presentation is varied and keeps the viewer’s interest from beginning to end.

A delightful addition to any coffee table, guaranteed to surprise, to stir up memories, and to stimulate interesting conversations!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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April 13, 2018

Rose-Lynn Fisher – The Topography of Tears

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Photographer:  Rose-Lynn Fisher (born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, lives in Los Angeles)

Publisher:  Bellevue Literary Press, New York, NY; © 2017

Essays:  William H. Frey II, Ph.D., Ann Lauterbach, Rose-Lynn Fisher

Text:  English

Paperback, stiff cover with French flaps; 128 pages with duotone images; 8×8 inches; printed and bound in China

Photobook Designer:  Mulberry Tree Press, Inc.

 

Notes:

I love landscape-like images of all sorts, but most especially those given out-of-the-ordinary approaches that reach into the realm of abstraction, whose representation can be considered other kinds of “scapes.”  In my own work, I have featured the body as landscape, resulting in unusual macro images, labeled “bodyscapes,” published in Blur magazine.  Of course, I also believe in the role of art as therapy, especially as a tool of self-observation, both for the photographer and the viewer. Rose-Lynn Fisher has gone in a similar direction in her visualizations, into the “micro” realm, examining the visual nature of tears (a product of emotional or onion-chopping moments) under the microscope for a number of years – a fascinating world in miniature, the world of what I would consider “tearscapes,” is the outcome, as published in this volume, entitled The Topography of Tears.

Of course it is expected that there are connections between art and the emotions, especially in a project like this. And sure enough, the titles given the images bear this out, since the author hints at moments that gave rise to the tears. The foreword and afterword by the author, as well as the essays, written by a neuroscientist and a poet, provide further contexts. Such titles as “Grief and gratitude,” “I remember you,” and “Nervous exhaustion” show a range of moments that gave rise to the examined outpourings.

The tears visualized are mostly the author’s own, and emotional conditions are necessary and concomitant contexts for these visualizations. The author essentially interrupted her emotions to capture the tears for visual examination. There two major ways in which this artistic inquiry examined tear samples: air-dried or compressed under a cover glass. Whereas the former often resulted in branchy, estuary-like structures, the latter often produced more free-form irregular patterns. Still others produced unexpected surprises that defy description. The viewer has a feeling of sitting in an elevated, drone-like position, looking in on someone’s inner turmoil that has been released for all to see. It is a bit like divining meaning from tea leaves or coffee grounds or lead castings on New Year’s Eve. You are welcome to derive your own meanings from the images; some sample pages are shown here without the titles to keep you guessing.

This volume is an excellent study in self-examination through art. I feel inspired to dig out my microscope and start exploring!

For those readers interested in an overview regarding the therapeutic possibilities of art, I refer you to the volume edited by Judith Aron Rubin:  Approaches to Art Therapy: Theory and Technique. 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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