The PhotoBook

January 6, 2017

Young-hwan Choi – BABEL

young-hwan_choi_babel_cover

Copyright 2014 Young-hwan Choi

Photographer: Young-hwan Choi (born & resides in Seoul, South Korea)

Self-Published (South Korea)

Essays: Young-hwan Choi, Dong-sun Jin, Sang-yong Shim

Text: Korean & English

Stiffcover book with tipped in image, perfect binding, four-color lithography, printed by Photonet in South Korea

Photobook designer: Photonet, South Korea

Notes: Choi’s self-published photobook BABEL is a tall, thin collection of black and white photographs that investigate a towering urban landscape in which the vegetation is either attacking a structure or attempting to conceal it, as though a futile potential reclamation is in process.

This is a dark poetic and surreal allegory about the pursuit of happiness by means of accumulating power and wealth through the construction of tall looming structures, similar to the vain construction of the towers of Babel, is but a hollow chase. None of these structures has been able to truly reach heaven.

In writing about Choi’s photograph, Sang-young Shim states “the excessive deficiency of light, which often comes close to absence. Sometimes all light is extinguished except for the minimum required for perception. Even that is reflected light, with the light source nowhere to be seen. The main tones range between grey and black, but as the darkness advances to the extreme level, it often threaten the middle tones as well…the plant is a place that should be brighter, for sure. One should poke a hole through the sky cover in ash-colored clouds. The ominous grey that pressed down should be covered with brilliant colors. But the signs of dawn are too faint.”

I met Choi at Photo Independent last spring in Los Angeles and I was impressed with his photographic exhibit and his two self-published photobooks, this and his earlier REQUIEM (published in 2011).

I find BABAL’s visual narrative to be extremely relevant to the current global events, especially those occurring in the United States. Anyone who builds large and tall structures with their name bronzed in large letters across the front for all to see (hoping for admiration) is indeed pursuing a dark folly that was characteristic of Babel.

Best regards

young-hwan_choi_babel_1

young-hwan_choi_babel_2

young-hwan_choi_babel_3

young-hwan_choi_babel_4

young-hwan_choi_babel_5

young-hwan_choi_babel_6

 

January 1, 2017

Daniel Alexander & Andrew Haslam – When War is Over

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_cover

Copyright 2016 Daniel Alexander & Andrew Haslam

Photographer: Daniel Alexander (born Edinburgh, Scotland, resides London, UK)

Publisher: Dewi Lewis Publishing (UK)

Essay: Daniel Alexander

Text: English

Hardcover book with embossed cover, inserts, multiple gatefolds, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Italy

Photobook designer: Daniel Alexander

Notes: Towards the end of World War I in 1917, the United Kingdom made a decision to establish the Imperial War Graves Commission that currently tracks and maintains the burial of 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead from World War I and II in perpetuity. Daniel Alexander’s photobook When War is Over provides a documentary style investigation of this on-going process of memorialization.

Alexander and Haslam’s photographic project took on more meaning for me as I had recently completed a related photographic project documenting road-side memorials. In my investigation I was documenting what family and friends had erected as a personal memorial at the site of a tragic accident in an attempt to create a remembrance and deal with their personal grief. Similarly Alexander and Haslam investigate an organized process of remembrance for those who tragically passed while serving in the military with the government acting on the behalf of families who might not otherwise have a means or capacity to do so, such that those who passed were honored equally.

For me this photobook calls into the question of how we create a remembrance of those who we have known and loved, but who have now passed on. How do we maintain that memory and how that memory is passed on to later generations? Does a well maintained cemetery create this experience, or does it provide an associated remembrance as an example that is available to us all? Likewise this photobook, although not about someone specifically still elicits a poignant remembrance of my family members who were lost in military action during these wars as well as those who were in the war but have passed since, such as my own father who was in the American army during World War Two.

This photobook documents the various aspects of maintaining these burial sites, which engages administrators, quarry-men, stone cutters, and gardeners for the upkeep of 2,500 cemeteries, 21,000 other burial grounds and 200 memorials for the missing in 154 countries. I also find that this photobook is a sober narrative about the terrible price of war, but if so engaged, those valiantly involved will be remembered.

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_1

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_2

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_3

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_4

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_5

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_6

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_7

daniel_alexander__andrew_haslam-when_war_is_over_8

December 30, 2016

Ara Oshagan – Mirror

ara_oshagan-mirror_cover

Copyright 2015 Ara Oshagan

Photographer: Ara Oshagan (born Beirut, Lebanon, resides Glendale, CA, USA)

Self-Published (USA)

Essay by Ara Oshagan

Music & Lyrics by Gor Mkhitarian

Text: English & Armenian

Hardcover exposed boards with tipped in image, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in China

Photobook designer: Ara Oshagan & Varoujan Hovakimyan

Notes: Ara Oshagan and his self-published photobook Mirror uses a documentary style to create a predominately black and white diary of the Gor Mkhitarian band but with an unusual twist; he incorporates some new technology that allows the viewer to scan the appropriate interior pages and link up the related music on their phone. Oshagan has incorporated the free Aurasma.app (available from Apple or Google) that after downloading and subsequently pointing the phone’s camera to the red icon pages of his book, the reader will be able to experience Mkhitarian’s band play the related music.

Oshagan states “Images mirror music. Music is a mirror of images. Darkness and light reflected in both. The diary’s very structure is a mirror; the lexicon of the pages that follow one another has a visual rhythm, an echo of the ebb and flow of music itself.”

Oshagan was present at Photo Book Independent last spring when I had an opportunity to meet him and discuss his photographs as well as the technology lurking in this book. I usually do not provide reviews of musical band documentaries, but this was really an intriguing collaboration of a nice physical photobook with the download of the related music, which I find more interesting that an iPad experience. I am guessing that once the reader downloads this app, that they should even be able to scan the photographs in this review and interact with the music. Cool.

Cheers

ara_oshagan-mirror_1

ara_oshagan-mirror_2

ara_oshagan-mirror_3

ara_oshagan-mirror_4

ara_oshagan-mirror_5

December 16, 2016

David Taylor – Monuments

david_taylor-monuments_cover

Copyright 2015 David Taylor

Photographer: David Taylor (resides Tucson, Arizona)

Publisher: Radius Books (Santa Fe)

Essays: Claire C. Carter, Daniel D. Arreola, William L. Fox, Rebecca Senf (interview)

Text: English, Spanish

Hardcover book, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Document section (essay, maps, articles, Plate details), printed in Verona, Italy

Photobook designer: David Chickey, David Taylor

Notes: This photobook is an investigation of the borderland straddled by the United States on one side, Mexico the other that extends the 690 miles between the two El Paso/Juarez and Tijuana/San Diego. Marking that transition point are 276 boundary obelisks, with 52 constructed initially of stone (1883) standing 11 feet high then later 224 additiaonl were fabricated of iron (1891-1895) and slightly smaller at 6 and a half feet tall.  Taylor has photographed these boundary Monuments in a documentary and visually objective style, similar in idea to that of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typologies. His photographic project was initiated in 2007, well before this borderland became a contested subject in the recent American presidential election and a book that probably has not been viewed in its entirety by the president-elect. This photobook project is essentially an expansion on Taylor’s 2008 Guggenheim fellowship that resulted in his earlier photobook, Working The Line, also published by Radius Books.

This is a obsessive investigation, as he has stated “the obelisks have ended up familiar figures invested with enormous meaning for me“. Each of the 276 boundary markers rests within an urban or rural landscape relative to the two respective countries. His photographs of the urban marker landscape provides a sharp visual contrast to the lives on either side of the borderland. The urban markers these are usually adjacent to a high fence or barrier to impede (or control) clandestine foot traffic. The urban photographs are in sharp contrast to the rural markers found in the mountains and large expanses of the desert, as these lonely markers provide the only evidence that a man-designated boundary occurs.

In terms of current social-political discussions about borders, especially as one contemplates the lonely markers high in the mountains or in the open desert, these photographs beg the question about what does a border really means?  Is a location/site more “American” or more “Mexican” ten feet, or even one thousand feet, on either side of the marker?

This is a large and thick volume, beautifully designed and printed, which results in a book object that is a pleasure to read.

Note: As one of the photobook judges earlier this year for Photo Book Independent, I had juried Taylor’s Monuments submission into the subsequent exhibition.

Cheers!

david_taylor-monuments_1

david_taylor-monuments_2

david_taylor-monuments_3

david_taylor-monuments_4

david_taylor-monuments_5

david_taylor-monuments_6

david_taylor-monuments_7

david_taylor-monuments_8

Early bird discount for photobook workshop ends this Saturday

douglas-stockdale-1

LACP Introduction to Photo Book Design, photo Douglas Stockdale

The early-bird registration discount of 20% for my Introduction to Photo Book Design workshop that I will be leading next April over two weekends will be ending midnight this Saturday, December 17th. This creative workshop is sponsored by Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP).  So if you plan to be in the Southern California area (aka best-coast), time to check this workshop out and take advantage of this discount.

Could also be a wonderful Christmas present for someone special ;- )

Just saying…

your wonderful Editor.

December 8, 2016

Kenneth O’Halloran – Bing, Bing, Bong, Bong, Bing, Bing, Bing

kenneth_o-halloran-bing_bing_bong_bong_bing_bing_bing_cover

Copyright 2016 Kenneth O’Halloran 

Photographer: Kenneth O’Halloran (born Corofin, Country Clare, resides Dublin, Ireland)

Self-published (Ireland)

Essay: Presidential Announcement speech, 2015

Text: English

Hardcover book with printed belly-band, sewn binding, four-color lithography, edition of 500, printed by Mirex, Gdansk (Poland)

Photobook designer: Mac & Ken

Notes: This documentary style project occurred in Los Angles on Hollywood Boulevard in the summer of 2016 during the United States presidential election. O’Halloran’s perspective was that of an outsider looking into an on-going political process, visiting this Southern California region from his native Ireland.

O’Halloran documented the raw emotional reaction of his subjects when confronting the name of one of the candidate’s bronzed in the sidewalk. His portraits of his subjects are tightly composed which appears to add an additional layer of tension to the emotional charged environment surrounding this location.

It might be an understatement that most of his subjects did not appear to react favorably to this landmark, as this candidate went on to lose the popular vote in the election by over two and half million votes as of this writing, while still becoming president-elect.

Best regards, Doug

kenneth_o-halloran-bing_bing_bong_bong_bing_bing_bing_1

kenneth_o-halloran-bing_bing_bong_bong_bing_bing_bing_2

kenneth_o-halloran-bing_bing_bong_bong_bing_bing_bing_3

kenneth_o-halloran-bing_bing_bong_bong_bing_bing_bing_4

kenneth_o-halloran-bing_bing_bong_bong_bing_bing_bing_5

kenneth_o-halloran-bing_bing_bong_bong_bing_bing_bing_6

kenneth_o-halloran-bing_bing_bong_bong_bing_bing_bing_7

December 6, 2016

Photo-eye Santa Fe

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Stores, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 6:02 pm

11-23-16_photo-eye_114231_santa_fe

photo-eye Santa Fe NM 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

One of the pleasures of our recent Thanksgiving road trip to Santa Fe was visiting the photo-eye book store. After the first visit, I had to return for a second visit as there were holiday deals to take advantage of.

The photo-eye bookstore is pretty unique in the United States as other than photographic galleries it is one of the few, if perhaps only, book stores dedicated entirely to contemporary photobooks. Note: this is NOT a book store where you will find any photographic books that attempt to explain photographic techniques, e.g. Lightroom, Photoshop or how to use a Canon 5DMarkIII.

I met up with Christopher Johnson, in the photo above, the Bookstore Manager who provided a quick orientation to the store’s layout as well as some photobook titles to check out. This is not a huge store by any means, but very, very well stocked!

It’s my guess that the majority of their book sales are derived from their website, and similar to other photobook websites, they have leveraged their photobook inventory into a nice retail operation.A little frustration for me that some of the photobooks that photo-eye had recently featured in their newsletter were not available in the store that day; Greogroy Halpern’s  ZZYZX (MACK) is in second printing as first edition is sold out, Mark Steinmetz’s Fifteen Miles to K-Ville (Stanley/Baker, London) which were still with Steinmetz being signed, and Mark Ruwedel’s Message from the Exterior (MACK), which was not in stock yet.

Nevertheless, what I did purchase was Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern’s The Photographer’s Playbook (Aperture) and then on my return to the store to take advantage of their holiday sale discount, Mark Steinmetz’s The Players (Nazraeli Press) which was signed. I wanted to have an actual copy of The Photographer’s Playbook for a couple of reasons, first as one of my reference books for my photobook workshop and when I am reviewing submissions for LensCulture I reference this book to those photographers who seem to be in the midst of searching for a photographic project to focus on. For Steinmetz, he’s a photographer whom we have not reviewed yet and I felt it was about time. Expect to see Steinmetz’s book review after the first of the year.

I will had to admit that I am a bit biased; photo-eye has in stock and selling my photobook Ciociaria (signed!) and the last copies of my limited edition artist-book Pine Lake.

Cheers

11-25-16_mark_steinmetz_153104-01

jason-fulford-gregory-halpren-the-photograhpers-playbook-cover

November 28, 2016

Jacek Fota – PKiN

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Gerhard Clausing @ 5:59 am

00-Fota cover.jpg

Concept and Ph­otography:  Jacek Fota (Warsaw, Poland)      http://www.jacekfota.com/

Publisher:  Fundacja Centrum Architektury, Warsaw, Poland 2015. Co-financed by the Capital City of Warsaw.      http://centrumarchitektury.org

Essays:  Introduction by Agnieszka Rasmus-Zgorzelska / Interviews by Milena Rachid Chebab / Translation by Zosia Sochańska.

Text:  English (English edition, 430 copies); there is also a Polish edition.

Hardcover book with 112 pages, not numbered; 70 color photographs numbered and captioned in the appendix; sewn binding; cloth cover, printed and bound in Poland.

Photobook design: Ania Nałęcka, Tapir Book Design / Photo editing: Mark Power, Magnum.

 

Notes:   PKiN is the abbreviation of the Polish name (Pałac Kultury i Nauki) for the Palace of Culture and Science in the country’s capital, Warsaw. This huge building containing in excess of 3200 rooms was a gift from the Soviet Union under Stalin to the people of Poland and was created between 1952 and 1955. Construction elements include some of the finest workmanship by craftsmen from Poland and the Soviet Union. This beautifully printed volume of photographs and ten pages of personal notes based on staff interviews shows an embossed replica of the so-called “frog” diagram of the ventilation system of this impressive edifice on the cover as an introduction to the myriad of details inside.

Jacek Fota’s 70 images delve behind the scenes of this magnificent structure as it exists today. In the words of Krzysiek, one of the Palace staff members interviewed, “Now there is much less going on and one can feel that the palace has been neglected.”  Fota’s distanced views evoke a sense of the range of public responses – awe, respect, and perhaps even some resentment of this overwhelming structure, with all its elements and all its history. Fota states that his goal was to document how the palace functions on the inside, “to convey the mysterious, surreal ambience” which the Palace exudes.

And sure enough, the administrators and caretakers of the palace are depicted as relatively small elements of the photographs in which they appear. The general impression of the viewer is one of distance, which enhances the mysteries of what is shown. The viewer also feels overcome by the sheer number and size of the many magnificent structural elements, as they mix with items neglected or in disrepair, mere reflections of the “glory” of former times. One can let one’s imagination take a journey, thinking of events that once gave even more luster to the structure than may be the case today. The images of this astute photographer are well composed and sequenced, and it is a pleasure to wander through the volume from beginning to end.

Gerhard Clausing

01-Fota 1 of 7.jpg

02-Fota 2 of 7.jpg

03-Fota 3 of 7.jpg

04-Fota 4 of 7.jpg

05-Fota 5 of 7.jpg

06-Fota 6 of 7.jpg

07-Fota 7 of 7.jpg

November 24, 2016

Indie Photobook Library moves to Yale University

Filed under: Photo Books, Photo Book NEWS — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:13 pm

Ciociaria published by Edizioni Punctum, now in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Just announced by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University that the Indie Photobook Library (iPL) has been just incorporated into their collection. The collection includes more than 2,000 photobooks from around the world along with related ephemera, archives of the iPL’s history, and Larissa Leclair’s personal collection related to self-publishing. The iPL  had focused on self-published photobooks, imprints independently published and distributed, photography exhibition catalogs, print-on-demand photobooks, artists’ books, zines, photobooks printed on newsprint, limited edition photobooks, non-English language photography books, and more. This collection covers the period of indie photobooks starting in 2008 through 2016. These volumes build on an already great strength of this library and will surely be used extensively by scholars and students at Yale and beyond for a long time.

In conjunction with this change, the iPL will cease operations and no longer be accepting any more book submissions.

October 28, 2016

Yanina Shevchenko – Crossing Over

yanina-_shevchenko-crossing_over_cover_open

yanina-_shevchenko-crossing_over_cover

Copyright 2013 Yanina Shevchenko

Photographer: Yanina Shevchenko (born: Russia – resides: Barcelona, Spain)

Publisher: The Velvet Cell (London, Taipei)

Essays: Yanina Shevchenko

Text: English

Stiffcover book, saddle-stitch binding, four-color lithography, printed in Taiwan

Photobook designer: Velvet Cell Graphics

Notes: In America a “road-trip” in which one wants get up-close and personal with the land is usually by accomplished by means a car. To cross an even greater expanse of Russia and attempt to create a personal relationship with the land, a road-trip one usually associates with is by means of the Trans-Siberian Railway. This photobook is Yanina Schevchenko’s narrative using a documentary style and resulting from riding the rails over a duration of fourteen days; from Moscow to the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway and then immediately returning. Her subject was the expansive rural and intermittent urban landscape of Russia in an attempt to investigate the regional culture along this route.

As a reader who has traveled by railway in both the United States and Europe, what can be observed in Shevchenko’s photographs appears similar in one aspect but not all-together different; stretches of open and frequently monotonous rural landscape with short duration’s of the urban industrial landscape. I also found myself recently returning to this book as I am now make frequent commutes to a laboratory space about an hour and half away that involves a long drive with a short stretch of stop and go traffic. During the drive, the ensuing landscape is a soft blur, but due to the serendipity and chance of where I made the brief stops in heavy traffic, the adjacent landscape takes on a startling clarity. These are similar elements that Shevchenko captures in her investigation. Perhaps some of the structures of the steppes are a bit unique, but the land adjacent to a noisy rail line is a place that is not usually attractive but can still be a very interesting to contemplate.

Cheers

yanina-_shevchenko-crossing_over_1

yanina-_shevchenko-crossing_over_2

yanina-_shevchenko-crossing_over_3

yanina-_shevchenko-crossing_over_4

 

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.