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Category: Books

The Beat Goes On: Photobook Bristol 2016

Still from Pulp Fiction (1994) – I’ve just returned from a weekend at Photobook Bristol, an informal congregation of photobook makers, publishers, designers and enthusiasts who gather in the city each year to hear talks, see books, share ideas, inspiration and woes, and to generally just party (it’s a great opportunity to see how photography’s finest perform on the dance floor, it turns out that Danish legend Krass Clements has some serious moves on him). It’s also a great place to catch up with far flung friends, see what they are working on, what get a sense of what work…

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Volatile Smile by Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann

High-frequency trading workspace, #14, 2010. Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann – Like all technologies, photography emerged from a very particular milieu, and in certain ways all its subsequent applications and adaptations will reflect the concerns of that moment. In the context of photojournalism and documentary photography what often feels awkwardly evident and yet rarely spoken of is that while the world has changed enormously since 1839, moving by most consensuses into a new age (whether the age of information, the anthropocence, (post-)post-modernity or something else) photography for the most part hasn’t. Digital imaging is in some respects a dramatic leap…

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Spiking the War Primer

War Primer 3 – This piece is an adapted version of a talk I gave at Helsinki Photomedia 2016 on the theme of materialities, and in my talk looking specifically thinking about how elements like material form contribute to the reading and meaning of photographic projects published as books. Over time I’ve become more and more interested in the politics of images, and I’ve found it’s often useful to think about photographs in terms of their having something of a metaphorical genetic code which might be mapped like an organisms genome and then sort of read for insights which can…

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Ken. To be destroyed by Sara Davidmann

Ken. To be destroyed by Sara Davidmann – If the archive is defined as sort of memory technology for gathering fractions of a complex and disintegrating present so that it might later be retold, it is not hard to see why it holds such allure for photographers. Photography in a sense is a very similar practice, and photography as a medium has tended to carry similar expectional burdens to those of the archive. Expectations about objectivity and neutrality which are often misplaced and found wanting in the final account. Perhaps because of this closeness photography practice has undergone an archival…

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Review – Spirit is a Bone by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

The Arbitrator from Spirit is a Bone by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin – One of my aims for this year is to drastically reduce the number of reviews I publish here. For a brief period this way of engaging with work was good for me, and I felt a vague sense of satisfaction when people described me as a critic. Increasingly though I dislike the word with it’s implication of being an all knowing arbiter or judge of what is good and bad in photography. I would much rather use this platform to share thoughts which more generally reflect…

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Review – Deadline by Will Steacy

– I’m conscious that I’ve reviewed relatively few books on the blog this year. If I’m honest I find reviews less and less satisfying to write, since the experience can often feel rather like banging your head against a wall. Sometimes I feel the urge to review again when I come across a particularly intriguing or brilliant body of work, but even when this happens I often feel I don’t have the time that a decent review really demands I commit. Sometimes you have to make time though, and having published a couple of posts recently on the ways that…

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A Photobook Manifesto I: Narrative

Drafts of Metropole, earliest at top left, final book at bottom right. – One of my motivations for setting up this blog was to get away from what seemed to be the preponderance of practical blogs and websites out there, focused far more on mandating the specific ‘dos and do nots’ of photography than about trying to articulate a general philosophy of photography that would serve to answer many of these questions if applied to them. Writing regularly has helped me to build up an inner framework of ideas about what good photography is which has really helped me when…

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Review – Missing Buildings by Thom and Beth Atkinson

– “When a fire happened to consume a particular dwelling in a row of dwellings the site of the conflagration remained for a long time afterwards. That was how things were back then. Anything that grew took its time growing, and anything that perished took a long time to be forgotten. Everything that had once existed left its traces, and people lived on their memories just as they now live on the ability to forget quickly’ ― Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March Unlike so many other great European capitals, London has defied all attempts to order or plan it. The…

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_IMG01 Australian-troops-passing-014.jpg

Spread from _IMG01 Australian-troops-passing-014.jpg by Mishka Henner – Since it’s invention, photography’s status has been contested, it’s precise nature unclear. Never before though have we been able to legitimately feel so unsure about what we mean when we talk about a photograph. This uncertainty in part forms the basis for a new series of books by the artist Mishka Henner. To call these ‘photobooks’ would be apparently inaccurate, but is in fact quite apt. Each book presents the raw data of a historic photograph as text, turning what might be a familiar, apparently straightforward image into reams of alpha-numeric data.…

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