The PhotoBook

June 24, 2012

Hiroshi Watanabe – 99 Findings

Filed under: Photo Book Discussions, Photo Book NEWS — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:58 pm

watanabe-findings-cover

copyright the photographers

Earlier this year I had the great pleasure to be included in a iPad App project that brought together my friend and photographer Hirohsi Watanabe, videographer Michal Kastenam and myself, as the interviewer, to expand on an earlier Watanabe photobook Findings, a photobook which I had reviewed in 2009. Watanabe was a Critical Mass winner and the resulting Findings was published by Photolucida, Portland, OR. The iPad App is titled 99 Findings, and increases the number of Watanabe’s photographs to 99, of course.

The iPad app is being produced by Hibiku, Inc in Japan this summer and 99 Findings will be available very soon on iTunes. In addition to the 99 photographs, there is my interview in which we discuss some of these photographs as well as Watanabe’s background and philosophy. There is also a segment of Watanabe working in his beautiful darkroom, a darkroom which I featured on a post in Singular Images.

As an iPad app, more content can be provided that traditional found in a photobook, and one that Watanabe is very interested is a photo-site linkage, best described in his words  “There are also links in each photograph to specific locations (where the photographs were taken) in Google Map. In some case, you will see the actual view of the landscape and surroundings by the Street View in the Google Map.”

This iPad app should be very interesting. I have not seen any of the post-production edits yet and this app just might be the reason I finally break down and purchase an iPad. I hope that I make a good “talking head” but thankfully all eyes will be on Watanabe and his delightful and open-ended photographs.

He has published a photobook before Findings as well as couple more since, including his first color photobook Ideology in Paradise  and most recently Love Point, published by Toesisha Publishing and subsequently a One Book by Nazareli Press.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

Gytis Skudzinskas – Tyla – Silence

Photographs copyright Gytis Skudzinskas 2011 published by Culture Menu (Kulturos Meniu)

Gytis Skudzinskas joins the minimalist ranks of the 1960’s color field painters and the recent cadre of long exposure photographers who reveal that with the passing of elastic time, that there are other “realities” that exist beyond our everyday comprehension and perception.

He creates contemplative images with beautiful lyrical colors of things that are, but yet are not. The results can be somewhat serendipitous as the final results are seldom visualized yet there is a core essence that can be anticipated.

The photographs are created with a neutral and static composition with the boundary between the upper and lower sections drawn mid way, dividing the two color fields into equal halves. This ccompositional tool is then consistently employed providing a sameness and interrelationship to and between the various photographs.

Beyond a contemplative opportunity for these photographs I regretfully do not find anything of sustaining value. The photographic content exists entirely within the boundaries of these photographs and other than the variations in color there is little else to hold my attention, to tweak my curiosity or create a desire to return.

The hardcover book is nicely printed and bound, the color photographs are suburb, but the textual design element of using a light color font on a paper of similar value increases the difficulty to read and comprehend the essays. This may be a case in which the attempt to be creative in design fell short, but an attempt to challenge the basics of book design is applauded. As an artist, risk need to be ventured and creative failure is a surrogate for success, as nothing ventured, nothing gained.

By Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

June 23, 2012

Silvia Camporesi – La Terza Venezia – The Third Venice

Copyright Silvia Camporesi 2011 published by Trolley Books

To say the least, Venice is a daunting subject for a photographic project, as are the over photographed venues of New York City, Paris, Rome and San Francisco. This Italian city is a virtual cliché of photographic images. Silvia Camporesi is choosing to travel a different route employing vestiges and façades mixed with a wonderful dose of her own imagination to create a beautiful and haunting narrative.

Little is provided to help interpret the dreamlike and mysterious images, thus a story of your making. Sharply detailed photographs reveal out of the ordinary elements within the photographic borders, with the inclusion of animals as one of many motifs. These animals, both the type and stature are out of context within this place: shark, deer, bear, elephant and rabbit.

A prone woman with her closed eyes is lying on the banks of the shore, floating in and submerged in the water, provides metaphoric images of sleep. Suggesting that perhaps what are floating on the pages around her are a fragment of the dreams (madness) found in sleep. Her landscape, floating in the mist and fog, is softly defined as one might think of a past memory, which can floating in and out of sharp focus with aspects dulled to the effects of time. Water, not only ubiquitous to Venice, is also symbolic of birth and a life providing substance. The presence of water is a constant subtext to most of her photographs.

Camporesi’s melding of images at times appears unnatural and a bit forced; it is these juxtapositions that tweak our interest as they jar our perception of accepted reality. We can quickly accept that these are constructed images and then proceed to allow ourselves to delve deeper into the question of why.

Camporesi states: “The book is a dreaming diary, composed of views of the city and short texts. The project explores places through the filter of imagination and dreams, divided in 4 thematic series: “Foghorns” (city images lost in the fog); “Souvenirs” (typical Venetian objects staged in anonymous locations around the city); “Ghosts” (legends and surreal places which take place in Venice); and finally “where water begins” (tales of real and imagined floodings, of buildings and churches).”

The hardcover book is very nicely printed with an essay provided by Bruno Cora.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

May 28, 2012

Bruce Haley – Sunder

Photographs copyright Bruce Haley 2010 published by Edizioni Charta in conjunction with Daylight Community Arts Foundation

From 1994 to 2002 Bruce Haley embarked on “a far reaching (photographic) journey through numerous former USSR and Iron Country countries”, investigating a transitional point of time encompassing post-communism and post-war. This body of photographic resulted in Haley’s gritty and dark photobook Sunder, as Taj Forer describes “a stark perspective on the collapse of the Communist empire”.

His choice of using black and white photography is very well suited to this documentary style journey through a region that appears to be enduring very difficult times. I sense his range of grays as revealing a poetic and melancholic subtext to his urban subject. Likewise, his frequent choice of a panoramic photographic format seems to make the resulting dismal conditions appear to be even more overwhelming.

Haley’s body of work is very synergistic with Rania Matar’s “Ordinary Lives”, her investigation of the social aftermath of the Lebanon war. Interesting for me to compare and contrast Haley’s photographs with Katherine McLaughlin’s photobook “The Color of Hay”  investigating a Romanian region during a similar point in time. Haley’s photographs are dark and pessimistic, while McLaughlin has created colorful and optimistic photographs. Looking at these two bodies of work, it would be difficult to understand how this could be the same region and time.

Haley has provided a serve commentary on war and economic blight left by communistic colonialism. His photographs are a dark criticism of both socialism and those who take adverse advantage of a countries resource that result in a wasteland left in apparent ruins. His harsh landscape photographs reveal ecological disasters that might haunt many generations yet to come.

He observes individuals who frequently appear to be in a state of resignation or barely functional in a sea of dysfunctionality. Like Matar, Haley observes the dark irony, harsh and dismal economic conditions and that with perseverance and tenacity, individuals continue to survive. This is a transitional time as a dark curtain has been drawn back only to reveal an uncertain future. Nevertheless, Haley’s narrative is a testimony as to how resilient mankind is.

This very wide hardcover book complements the many panoramic photographs that Haley has incorporated into this project. The photographs are presented as singular images per spread, with ample classic white margins framing each photograph images that make this a joy to read. The book is beautifully printed and bound in Italy revealing the many nuances’ of Haley’s moody black and white photographs. A Foreword is provided by Dina and Clint Eastwood, an extended essay is provided by Andrei Codrescu and Afterword by Taj Forer.

by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

May 12, 2012

Douglas Stockdale – Ciociaria Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set

Copyright Douglas Stockdale 2011

Warning Notice: this is a self-serving personal shout-out about the availability of my book in a Limited Edition Book + Photograph set. You may find yourself spending a small amount of loot while yet making a wonderful investment, so be warned before proceeding any further!!

I recently published two small versions of a Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set in conjunction with my hardcover book Ciociaria. The edition size for both versions is 25 and I choose two photographs which were not included in the design and printing of the book. Both the photograph and book are signed and numbered, with the photograph printed on archival stock. After a number of discussions with Susan Burnstine during the development of this Limited Edition set, I opted to go with an inexpensive version to keep my costs low and a provide a reasonable price of $150.00 per set.

The initial interest in the two Limited Edition sets is good and I am nearing the halfway point for selling the editions. I can’t say they are selling like hotcakes yet, but are doing well enough and building a small reserve fund to finance my next book that I hope to be able to announce shortly.

The Fiuggi Edition, photograph below, was an interesting turning point for me while working on this project. I had been deferring to a more topographical investigation of the memories of this area, which is to say photographing the urban landscape without the presence of any individuals. As this scene unfolded before me, it spoke of another way to create a narrative as to how memory is preserved. But as book designs go with the choice, pairing and sequencing of the images, this photograph did not find a good home within the book. So it seemed a nature to include this as a special edition.

Fiuggi Editon

 

The other version of the Limited Edition is the Morolo Edition, which includes the photograph below. I saw this lyrical web of branches with the different phases of the decaying fruit and hints of the surrounding residences. It speaks to the past memories intersecting with the current moment.

The Limited Edition Book + Photograph sets of Ciociaria will be available from specialty photographic bookstores.

Now available at:

Ampersand, Portland Oregon

Coming soon to photo-eye

The standard hardcover book at $55.00 is currently available at both Ampersand and photo-eye.

Additional interior photographs from the book and links to some of the book reviews can be found here.

Check back as I expect this bookseller list to grow.

Best regards, Doug

Morolo Edition

 Now back to your normal programing…

May 10, 2012

The Photobook Review – issue 002

Supplement to Aperture magazine – issue 002, Spring 2012

Hear all about it! Get your Photobook News here!!

Okay, a “newspaper” that is published only twice per year is not exactly something that provides the hot, hot, hot daily news one might expect or want. But then again, the evolution of the photobook industry is not exactly moving at lightening speed either.

As a supplement to their magazine, Aperture has made an interesting decision to publish this newsprint edition, focusing on the growing phenomena of photobooks within the fine art photography establishment. With limited gallery and exhibition space availability, photographers have realized that a photobook will potentially reach a much wider audience over a longer duration as well as providing a more democratic venue & access to their content.

Interestingly The Photobook Review (TPR) is very similar in organizational structure to the now defunct photo-eye magazine edited by Darius Himes, which was published quarterly. This magazine was a perfect-bound stiffcover book that was a delight to hold and read and is sadly missed.

The TPR articles are much longer than any tweet or Face Book shout-out and probably longer than most blog articles, but perhaps shorter than many magazine feature articles. I find the inclusion of some new terminology interesting, last issue was an emphasis on maquettes for the word Book Dummy, and this issue is leporello for the word concertina (I discuss this book design here) or continuous gate-fold.

For TPR, Aperture Publisher Lesley Martin has decided to bring in guest editors, and for this issue the guest editor is photobook publisher and bookseller, Markus Schaden, hailing from Kohn, Germany. Overall TPRis segmented with sections about the photobook developmental process, in this issue the sequencing of the photobook (e.g. Garry Badger’s “It’s Narrative, But Not as we Know it…Sequencing the Photobook), a Designer profile (Greger Ulf Nilson), Publisher profile (Bohm/Kobayashi, Dusseldorf), a feature section (Book Dummy’s including a discussion of Kiyoshi Suzuki’s Soul and Soul that I reviewed), a photobook artist (Ken Schles interviews Christian Patterson) and last photobook reviews (12 of them in this issue, including photobooks by Taishi Hirokawa, Katsumi Omori, Paul Graham, Donald Weber (which I will review soon), and Nina Poppe to name a few.

And thanks to Helka Aleksdottir for providing me with this current issue.

Douglas Stockdale – The PhotoBook

April 30, 2012

Sarah Hobbs – Small Problems in Living

Photographs copyright 2011 Sarah Hobbs published by Edizioni Charta

Oh My Gosh, do the photographs of Sarah Hobbs find an emotional home. I am immediately reminded of the domestic chaos and angst investigated by Julia Blackmon’s “Domestic Vacations”. Whereas Blackmon created her tableaux with her friends and family as subject, Hobbs methodology is devoid of any individuals, perhaps inviting the viewer to think in wider terms and create a personal narrative.

Hobbs is investigating those personal relationships and personalities that have gone astray, creating visual metaphors for the emotion conditions that haunt us. Her photographs are a mixture of pathos and dark humor, amusing in a sad and prickly way.

She created these installations in her and her friend’s home, transitory theaters for the express purpose to explore her many themes. These are similar to an installation at a gallery or museum, built for their visual impact as a director might set a stage. The actors and players in these mini-dramas are transparent, but present in spirit, as they might be a favorite aunt who is at times just a bit too nosey, a thin-skinned sibling who seems to take offense by most events or revealing some unpleasant aspect of ourselves at one time or another.

Although her title states that these might be Small Problems in Living, I find that when some of these conditions are actually occurring, they take on a larger significance. At times like this, I can take some solace in the one short biblical phrase, “it came to pass”, because thank goodness it did not come to stay.

This hardcover book is beautifully printed and bound in Italy.

by Douglas Stockdale

The PhotoBook

April 27, 2012

MIND_Mag – showing a lack of Respect

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS — Doug Stockdale @ 3:40 am

A slight distraction this past week when a friend pointed out that another individual was re-blogging all of my book reviews, in fact almost this entire blog and reposting it as though all of this original content that I authorized was on behalf of their blog. After looking at this blog, Mind_Mag, it has stated my name with credit only for the photographs of the books interiors. There are no credits or links back to this blog that would reveal original source or authorship.

Now by doing something wrong, this individual will get some extra attraction in the short run that might make it seem like it is worth while. Like all things, it will eventually come back to haunt one day.

Reposting a blog is done regularly and freely, but most conscientious bloggers reveal their source and acknowledge the authorship of the work. Which is why blogging as part of a larger social community can be so cool.

Regretfully, this event has consumed enough energy. Meanwhile, I sincerely do appreciate the 99% who do respect my efforts. Thank you!

by Douglas Stockdale

The PhotoBook

April 22, 2012

James H. Evans – Crazy from the Heat

Copyright James H. Evans 2010 University of Texas Press

In photography, there are those who go wide and others go deep. James Evans is a photographer who has gone very deep into a region of Texas known as the Big Bend and found this place to be his muse of which he has courted for over twenty years.

This is a book that explores the many facets of what constitutes a place; a resulting diverse mash-up of landscapes, nightscapes, portraits, insects, reptiles, nudes, social gatherings and food, with Evans strongest emphasis on the exploration of the landscape.

This photographic body of work is not organized by subject, with what appears as a random sequencing of the color and black & white photographs. I have a sense that this is another way to investigate and explain this region, that there is a randomness and underlying serendipity to the life of this region. The folks here do not need a lot of organization to live, it just comes naturally.

As Evans states in his Afterword, “Living in a small community is like living with a big family. I witness the give-and-take of life on a personal level. No one escapes the things that make up the human condition; in fact, they only seem more apparent here because there is no anonymity, and I witness people’s lives unfold for good and bad day to day.”

This dense book is a wonderfully large hardcover with dust jacket, with both the black and white as well as the color images very nicely printed. It seems to me that this book’s vertical format was an odd selection for a photographer who worked either in a square format or a very wide panoramic. One of the interior panorama plates is a huge double gate fold, but the wide photographs were either full bleed across the two page spread or a strip of wide ribbon across the two-page spread. Personally, I believe that a horizontal book format might have provided more justice for his body of work.

There is an extensive quantity of two-page spread photographs, but for my liking there is too much lost in the gutters, as the binding does not open sufficiently to reveal all of the content.

April 18, 2012

William Wylie – Route 36

Photographs copyright William Wylie 2010 published by Flood Editions

I recently drove the Interstate 70 in the summer from Denver, CO to Kansas City, MO passing through Salina, Hays and Colby, Kansas, a route which runs a similar East-West pathway 30 miles South of Route 36. I recall a lot more rolling empty prairie than that revealed by William Wylie in his investigation of a parallel landscape on Route 36. I find it very interesting as to what subject’s intrigued Wylie in his quest.

Wylie uses a documentary style in a similar spirit as Walker Evans, perhaps photographing fewer signs and more trees. Wylie’s black and white photographs further distill this middle-land of America, the nondescript someplace found between Los Angeles and New York City.

This place is a solitude that is inhabited by birds and cattle, who linger amongst the trees, creeks, rolling lands, interspace by small towns and pick-up truck lined streets. The presence of the inhabitants is indirectly revealed by the rows of fences, meandering roads, and the manner in which the trees are planted or the crops are growing. These small towns reveal a sameness that I have difficulty telling them apart. This is a testimony of form following function. The omnipresent grain silos border these towns and the prerequisite water-tower looming over the plains, much like a pin stabbed into a map functioning as guideposts for those who linger out in the prairie.

Nicely stated by the poet Merrill Gilfillan in his foreword “But it seems continually necessary to reassert that landscape study and its reflective arts are anything but passive disciplines, that civilization in a sustaining, daily sense emerges most surely from good relations with one’s surroundings (the perfect word) and the inner landscape of possibility held in the head and heart.”

Stiff covers with smythe-sewn binding, and a foreword written by Merrill Gilfillan.

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