The PhotoBook Journal

November 21, 2018

Rose Steinmetz – Techenie (течение)

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 4:41 pm

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Photographer:  Rose Steinmetz (born in the country of Georgia; lives in São Paulo, Brazil)

Self-published, edition of 30; © 2017

Text:  Notes inserted into an envelope, in English and Portuguese

Soft covers, loose-leaf, held by central elastic band with an envelope containing a message, 5.5 x 7.5 inches; 80 pages, unpaginated in black and white

Notes:  I asked to review this project because it struck me as a challenging enigma. The photographer, Rose Steinmetz, who originally hails from the country of Georgia and now lives in Brazil, herself has a background that shares several cultural streams and influences. So it only seems fitting that this photographic project would have an effect that resembles a stream of consciousness of evocative imagery.

20 sheets, printed on both sides and folded in half, constitute 80 pages, of which a few are intentionally left blank to create pauses; they are loosely held together by an elastic string to which an envelope is attached containing some key words that relate to the term techenie, which is meant to imply current, flow, [uncontrolled] movement.

What further makes this interesting is that the viewer of this photobook can first study the flow of the original sequence (participating in the author’s journey), and then reassemble the pages to create different juxtapositions, creating a flow of his or her own, even subtracting some images if desired. I have praised this format before, most recently in my reviews of Douglas Stockdale’s Bluewater Shore and of Rodrigo Ramos’ Ex Corde (From the Heart; De todo corazón). Since there is no flowchart of the original arrangement of the pages, it would be necessary to view the video on the photographer’s website to reassemble the book in its original sequence, or else to decide to keep it in your own arrangement as your very own personal book inspired by the original.

The image sequence is stream-of-consciousness or dream-like, almost like a psychology test; the viewer is clearly transported into a world that resembles a bit of a twilight zone, sequences which challenge you to participate in the interpretation. What is your own flow, what is your own imagination of how things assemble and how life continues? Where do your own cultural influences come to bear, what small details about everyday life do you observe and focus on? And what are you able to ignore?

The images include a range, from tangible everyday objects and a few portraits, bodyscapes, animals, and landscapes, all the way to semi-abstract and abstract compositions. The printing is simple, in glorious copy-machine-like monochrome, which has been practiced by other photographers before, most prominently by Nobuyoshi Araki, and might encourage others to attempt similar photobooks. A delightful project!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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July 14, 2018

Cathy Immordino – Through The Looking Glass

Filed under: Artist Books, Book Reviews — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:52 am

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Artist: Cathy Immordino (born Eden Prairie, MN & resides Los Angeles, CA)

Self-Published, USA, 2017

Text: English

Soft cover, hand printed & PVA binding, leporello design, cyanotype printing, Edition 20

Artist book concept & designer: Cathy Immordino

Notes: In Lewis Carol’s fantasy novel Through the Looking Glass, the reader embarks on a curious journey that takes them to strange and wondrous events, as if in the Twilight Zone, into a mysterious parallel world. Likewise Cathy Immordino taps into another mysterious experience with the design and layout of her complex and layered artist book of the same title.

She states “The book explores the different uses of lenses in a steampunk manner. From space helmets and ships to submarines, robotic birds and fish, lens growing trees, robots and interior design and more. “Through the Looking Glass” further explores the possibilities of lenses in another reality”.

As observed in the top view of her book below, the book can be experienced by folding, refolding and examining the contents from various perspectives. In the process one finds some mysterious and wonderfully hidden content. Similar to Carol’s narrative, Immordino invites the reader to take a “trip” to consider how one experiences reality and the many possible alternatives to view one’s life perspective.

That the book contains a submarine and to find out the book was Cyanotype printed in her basement (yes, there a few of these in Southern California) is a delightful autobiographical twist. This artist book is very high on creative entertainment value.

Cheers!

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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 photobook 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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April 4, 2018

Gary Ng – 1 + 1 = 3

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 7:45 pm

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Photographer:  Gary Ng (born and resides in Hong Kong)

Self-published, © 2017

Stiff cover, machine-sewn; 15×21 cm; 49 pages in full color; edition of 50 signed and numbered copies

 

Notes:

Several years ago, there was a series of books by Fred Hüning, published by Peperoni Books, Berlin, entitled Einer/Zwei/Drei (2010-2011), subsequently reissued in a single volume, entitled One Circle (2013). Those volumes recounted a personal history, tracing the photographer’s journey from being single, finding a partner, all the way to establishing and nurturing a family unit. That project constituted a three-part mini-saga accompanied by poetry and other texts.

In the present volume by Gary Ng, which has as its title a cute equation that is not mathematically correct but definitely points to natural expansion, we are also confronted with what can be a universal narrative, and all of that in a slim volume of 49 pages, without any text or titles for the images. This allows the viewers to project themselves into the narrative even more readily.

Ng’s photography is full of symbolism, which allows us easy extrapolation to our own lives: where there is pleasure, there is also pain, or: The path to a new life can also be full of strife. We see moments of loneliness in a large city, we see signs of vulnerability such as bandaged wounds and marks left by tight clothing, and broken glass or container pieces. Contrast that with images presenting symbols of vigorous life, primarily represented by the color red (ladybugs, lipstick, fruit), and symbols of fertility, such as eggs or the peeled apple held in the woman’s hand. There are also many other images that present ambiguity, just the way we like it in a volume of fine art photography. Intertwined body parts add to the mysterious and quirky presentation, at times with a measure of humor.  Alas, the offspring does arrive near the end of the volume, and I leave the discovery of that image to those who obtain the book. Many moments of waiting, gestures of supplication and thanks, and visual surprises lead up to that point.

A compactly articulated, intriguing narrative, well thought out, informally presented, yet formally sequenced. A most enjoyable volume!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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March 30, 2018

Robert Stivers – Staging Pictures – Early Polaroids by Robert Stivers

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:32 pm

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Artist: Robert Stivers (born Palo Alto, CA & resides Santa Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA)

Published by Dark Spring Press, copyright 2017

Essay: Robert Flynn Johnson

Text: English

Hard cover, with image index, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed by Arizona Lithography and binding by Roswell Bookbinders, AZ

Photobook designer: Andy Burgess and Dawne Osborne

Notes: This is a small retrospective body of early photographic work of Robert Stivers using Polaroid (Polaroid back on a Hasselblad) film to experiment and play with visual ideas. Stivers was in the transition from being a dancer (with recent back issues) to that of a visual artist. As aptly pointed out in the Introduction by Robert Flynn Johnson, a transition from “a sensitivity to balance, form, grace, beauty and movement (as a dancer)….into the fixed imagery of photography was an early challenge.”

As such there is a rawness in the Polaroid remnants that remain, reminding me of the concept behind Stephen Gill in which he buried photographic prints to see what might happen. In the case of Stivers these Polaroids were not meant to be the final artistic object, but his attempts to understand the potentials of the medium; thus creating collages, scratching and burning the image surface and other experiments to push and pull the potential narrative. What we see are out-takes and an inventory of the early work-in-progress, similar to the hand-written notes of an author or the preliminary drawings for a painting.

What results are mysterious images cloaked in darkness that became the building blocks of Stivers photographic oeuvre. The book design by Andy Burgess and Dawne Osborne push that concept of mystery and the elements of surrealism even further with the utilization of black pages and black image borders.

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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February 21, 2018

Charles-Frédérick Ouellet – Le Naufrage

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Photographer:  Charles-Frédérick Ouellet (born in Chicoutimi; lives in Québec City, Canada)

Publisher:  Les Éditions du renard, Montréal, Canada; © 2017

Text:  Poem “Dompter le naufrage” by Fabien Cloutier

Language:  French

Illustration:  Frédérik Lévesque

Hardback, sewn; 108 pages with 55 images, paginated; 9 x 10.5″; printed in Canada by Deschamps Impression; edition of 500 and special edition of 30

Photobook Design:  Charles-Frédérick Ouellet and CRITERIUM

 

Notes:

I recently reviewed a book by Gerald Boyer from Catalonia, in which the main emphasis was childhood recollections and family connections around the rugged terrain along the northeastern coast of Spain. Part of those recollections concerned the camaraderie of going fishing in “the cove.” In the present work, things get much rougher.  Charles-Frédérick Ouellet has been documenting the very traditional work of the fishermen of the Quebec/St. Lawrence River area and its connected bodies of water, men who earn their livelihood by braving rough waters and other natural turmoil to bring home their catch; they follow in the path of ancient traditions.

The title of this volume is Le Naufrage (The Shipwreck), and that title certainly makes us wonder if the specter of tragedy and unforeseen events are in the minds of such men pursuing their rugged trade. And sure enough, in the back of the volume there is a fitting poem by Fabien Cloutier entitled, “Dompter le naufrage” (“Dodging the Shipwreck,” perhaps with the implication, “Against all odds”), which lets us in on the images floating about in the fishermen’s minds: separated from their people, they will brave the storm, overcome their fear of disaster, and get back safely to the land and their loved ones again…

This narrative of fishermen is well photographed and handsomely presented. Ouellet rode along on the boats for several years and got to know the men well, pitched in when needed, and was subject to the same adverse conditions as they were. Thus they fully accepted him; he was able to obtain honest views of both calm and rough moments. There is some effect of pictorialism to the work, and I mean that in a very complimentary way. The overall feeling of nostalgia, survival, and temporality is generalized through choices of light and composition that nudge the work toward the abstract and support its strong graphic impact. The longing for the safety of the land exists along with the urge for excitement; the romantic veneer has been removed and the images show the best photojournalistic vision that is enveloped in an artistic presentation. The segment of images taken on the water is surrounded by an initial and a final portion that show terra firma and recollections of nature as a kind of “before”and “after,” which complete the contexts these men experience. The use of small Leica film-based rangefinder cameras on the water, and large-format film cameras for the landscapes and clouds, was a very effective strategy that provided Ouellet with technical ruggedness when needed and an overall artistic look. We are put in the midst of the action in well-composed images and nicely sequenced scenic views. The ever-changing weather conditions certainly also provide a strong background for this narrative. Paisley endpapers, a very pleasing matte paper stock for the printed pages (both ivory and gray), a bound bookmark, and a painting showing rough waves also support the elegant appearance of this book.

A most enjoyable volume!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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January 11, 2018

Gerard Boyer – Ser de La Cala

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Photographer:  Gerard Boyer (born in L’Ametlla de Mar, Spain; lives in Tarragona, Spain)

Publisher:  Fuego Books, Murcia, Spain; © 2011-2016 by Gerard Boyer

Texts:  Quotes in Catalan, Spanish, and English

Zine-style, naked-bound and glued, with stiff printed wrap; 22.6 x 32 cm; 64 pages; edition of 500; printed in Spain by CeGe

Photobook Design and Art Direction:  Gerard Boyer, Ignasi López, Román Yñán

Notes: Our memories are very tricky things – they are partial, emotional, full of gaps and uncertainties, and prone to embellishment. Good ones, bad ones, and everything in between. What was, might have been, could have been, should have been? And what is our role in what we have made prominent in all of this, or shoved aside as faded bits and pieces?

Gerard Boyer is from Catalonia, an area politically part of Spain, but with its own language and proud identity. Along the eastern coast there is a certain rugged landscape by the sea and an independent spirit to go with it. This had its impact on this volume of recollections: a view of childhood and its contexts in the “La Cala” (The Cove). The book, professionally designed to make an impression of incidentally “found” detail, illustrates these feelings very well, in that it approximates how detail swerves in and out of our consciousness. The format is that of a large-size glossy magazine; the binding is “naked” (check out our discussion “Naked Bound”), and we get the impression of a past that is full of distinct yet partial memories. Some text portions with quotes are bound to the front and also internally, to evoke further associations in the viewer. There is also a map of the area, with a small window, perhaps suggesting the distant access for an outside viewer. The volume is contained in an intriguing folded, cover-like wrap-around, with an abstract design suggesting land and sea.

The images are an appropriate mix of subjects, showing childhood portraits, family members, area landscapes and other local markers, and some of the folks from the family and the community. Some of the images show a certain ruggedness and imperfection, such as large out-of-focus areas, light-struck film exposures, and faded color to parallel fading memories and thought intrusions.  Themes such as the rugged camaraderie and sensory strength among anglers and the major role of motherhood emerge. As we view this multilayered sequence of images that are presented effectively to approximate the workings of the mind as it comes up with its recollections, we are confronted with doing our own memory work, remembering things from our own childhood as well. And isn’t that precisely what an effective photobook will do, to make us also get in touch with ourselves. An innovative treatment, well done!

Gerhard Clausing

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March 18, 2017

Lorena Endara – É Arenas: Nariz

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 2:04 am

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Photographer:  Lorena Endara (Los Angeles, CA)

Music:  Composed, arranged, and produced by Eduardo Arenas

Publisher:   Producciones Con Sal, Los Angeles, © 2016

Stiff cover, saddle stitch binding; 32 unnumbered pages; 13 color photographs, accompanied by the corresponding song titles from the vinyl album that it accompanies; printed in Los Angeles, CA; 8.5×8.5 inches

Photobook Designer:  Lorena Endara

 

Notes:

A labor of love and creativity – this package of music and photography speaks of all that and more.

Eduardo Arenas, a talented composer and musician, plays a variety of instruments and sings, along with some support musicians, in a set of twelve songs that comprise this exciting innovative solo album, É Arenas – Nariz. The “in your face” themes reflect our time – ever searching and sometimes finding. The resulting “world fusion” music (using this term in a supportive, constructive way here) is most expressive, showing Anglo, Latin, and Brazilian influences, in the rhythms and in the lyrics as well. Outstanding sounds, a variety of unexpected pleasures, speak for the creativity of the artist. You can preview the music on this CD Baby page.

And, getting to our main focus here, his lady, Lorena Endara, worked hard during those six years as well, supporting the project, and was also inspired to create images that reflect the tenor of the musical pieces. And again, we report a distinct measure of success; instead of merely illustrating the content of the music and lyrics, the images are in themselves an interpretation of the emotional substance and context of what the music represents and engenders. In her images, she achieves a level of abstraction that allows the viewer/listener to dream and wonder. You will need to obtain the vinyl version (yay! resurgence of vinyl!) to appreciate the images, printed in a separate booklet that comes with the album; some of the double pages are reproduced below.

We are looking forward to further work from this talented team!

Gerhard Clausing

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February 7, 2017

Barbara Kyne – A Crack In The World

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Copyright 2016 Barbara Kyne

Photographer: Barbara Kyne (b. Hoboken, New Jersey – resides. Oakland, CA)

Publisher: Daylight Books (USA)

Essays: Barbara Kyne, Susan Griffin, Jasmine Moorhead

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Index, printed in China

Photobook designer: Ursula Damm

Notes: Barbara Kyne and her partner Fran Lowe have property in Mariposa, located east of the San Francisco bay in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. The land is a bit rough and tumble, which is to say a little on the wild side. Although her book appears to be an abstraction of the natural landscape, Kyne is seeking to go beyond the apparent and investigate an aspect of nature that we do not usually think may be occurring; how does nature view itself?

In nature we take for granted that there is an active interplay between the wildlife animals, birds and other crawly creatures, but we have not been taught or made aware that perhaps the trees and vegetation may actively communicating among themselves. Kyne has tapped into the writings and scientific investigations that gives credence that plants and trees are in a sense actively communicating with each other. Thus raising the question; if plants and trees can perceive, what might they comprehend and what could that vision look like?

In discussing this book, she stated “And my work is about reality. Reality and time. I’m just looking at reality from what I imagine is the perception of another species. I’m attempting to expand our perception of reality and let go of or at least loosen the grip of our human-centric perception.”

Her photographs are abstract and very lyrical as I find Kyne’s hypothesis and subsequent investigating to be very intriguing and visually beautiful.

Other photobooks by Barbara Kyne reviewed on The Photobook: Gerhard Clausing’s review of By Fire

Cheers

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January 8, 2017

Barbara Kyne – By Fire

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Ph­otographer:   Barbara Kyne (born Hoboken, NJ; resides Oakland, CA)

Publisher:  Self-published, © 2015

Essay:  “On Contemplation and Perception” by Barbara Kyne

Text:  English

Stiff cover book with 32 pages, not numbered; 10 duotone photographs; 8.75 x 7.25″. Marketed by Norfolk Press  and by the photographer.

Photobook Designer:  Yon Sim

 

Notes:  

By Fire is a fascinating seminal volume that has as its goal creating a connection between severe personal tragedy and the universe of nature as a sphere of continuity and as a context permitting some healing. In ten well-chosen images that have also been given intriguing titles, Barbara Kyne allows the viewer to enter a foreboding yet promising atmosphere: we can project events that have fundamentally affected our lives into a series of fiery depictions of nature. These often include a shadowy figure – a stand-in and ethereal spirit, hinting at a gutsy universality beyond the comprehension of any one individual being, as well as pointing toward some solace and an understanding that we are not alone.

Barbara Kyne has a keen interest in pursuing the deeper meaning of reality and discovering clues to the great existential questions, using her photography to serve as a conduit to understanding “the cycles of life, death, and rebirth, often and surprisingly connecting pathos and joy.” Regarding this volume, she states, “If we move through the metaphorical fire with awareness, we may find that facing mortality creates expansion and renewed life.” Indeed, there is a mysterious and mythical quality to her photography that envelops and fascinates the viewer, inviting several types of discovery.

Barbara Kyne is continuing her important photography in further volumes. We admire her work and are looking forward to further illuminations.

Gerhard Clausing

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