Thinking about the future of the Photobook.

Paul Graham's 12 book called "a shimmer of possibility"

I've been thinking a lot about the future of the photobook lately. Tonight there is going to be a online chat through Twitter. More info on that here:

There is also an interesting experiment in blogging on the subject on the Livebooks blog, RESOLVE. Their crowd sourced blog collects all the recent posts into one big page. Lots to check out and think over.

All these discussions are an interesting contrast to the Aperture Foundation hosted talk I attended few months ago. The talk featured many different voices. Some of the names on the panel included:

Charlotte Cotton, curator and Head of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, LACMA, will moderate a discussion with panelists Alex Klein, artist and Curatorial Fellow in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, LACMA; Matt Keegan, artist and editor of North Drive Press; David Reinfurt, graphic designer and co-founder of Dexter Sinister; and Denise Wolff, Aperture Editor. Other special guests include special guests Paul Graham, Darius Himes, and Laurel Ptak.

Sadly, the panel never quite got to the meat of a real discussion. After each panelist gave an introduction there wasn't much time left. Maybe this is where a Twitter based chat can work better? We'll see.

NDP #4 (ed. 1000)

I did manage to learn about some interesting work from the panelists - especially, artist and publisher Matt Keegan's North Drive Press. Their hybrid publishing of magazine / book / art object in limited edition batches is an example of where creative art books are headed. As production gets cheaper, artists are more easily able to produce their own larger edition artworks.

In preparation for tonight's first art photo chat, Todd Walker reminded me of this Words Without Pictures piece by Darius Himes and it's a great starting point for thinking about the photobook going forward from 2010. Darius Himes also wrote a post contribution that's worth checking out.

There are two parts to the future of the photobook; one part is technical and the other is creative. New technologies in printing and reading are emerging. How will they change the way we consume photography? What new creative trends will emerge through these technology developments as well those through developments in art production? These two areas are interdependent and each will change as the other does.

Photobooks, and particularly art photobooks, are unlike their book cousin the novel which may suffer massive declines in paperback book sales because of reading devices like Amazon's Kindle. The enjoyment of the novel, and especially a paperback doesn't greatly diminish when consumed on such a device. Many readers swear by them. I have to agree with Darius Himes when he writes in his essay, "Who Cares About Books?":

And while the sensual experience of receiving and holding a Mac AirBook borders on the rapturous (I almost feel like I'm dissimulating when I enter the Apple shrines scattered around the country), it is still not something I want to read a book on-even if it is something I want to use to send an email about a book I just read.

Books are so archetypal for the modern wo/man that we form nearly permanent bonds with them as teenagers and adults. They are the security blankets and teddy bears of the adult world. Most of us cart our books from state to state, from college dorm to rented apartment to newly purchased home, and lovingly set them up on our shelves as reminders of knowledge acquired and courses and degrees completed, and as familiar companions.

I enjoy books for many reasons and the little subjective memories they pick up along the way is certainly one of them. There are two recent books that might be interesting to discuss.

While the consumption of an artistically produced book would lose much of its presence on a downloaded format, there probably will be rare cases where the end design is for electronic consumption. One particular piece I recently came across is made by Eve Susman and the Rufus Cooperation. It's produced by a new publisher started by Schroeder Romero and Winkleman Gallery called Compound Editions called White on White. The edition is sold as a 6-minute video installed on ARCHOS 5 media tablet.

Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation
Original music by Lumendog
Geoff Gersh - guitar and electronics
Adam Kendall - keyboards & electronics
Christof Knoche - bass clarinet & electronics
Bradford Reed - pencilina
6-minute video installed on ARCHOS 5 media tablet
5" x 0.5" x 3.1"
Edition of 100, plus 10 APs
$450.00 for numbers 1-50; SOLD OUT
$600 for numbers 51-100.

While we can't say for certain what the future of the photobook will be, it's exciting to see artists stretching the boundaries.

SELF PROMO ALERT: While you're thinking about photobooks be sure to check out my artist published photobook:

ten convenient stores
I made the 7 x 7 inch booklet with laser paper on a high end xerox laser printer. It is packaged in various convenient store bags. Produced in an artist edition of 20 in 2005 and a bigger edition of 100 in 2005.

Looking forward to tonight's experiment.

Your website sucks... Comments from the "experts"

This Linkedin Post, Is everyone tired of Livebooks website format ? on the APA Group reminded me of a discussion a while back of photographers websites. After the dust has setteled from graduation, I have been thinking a lot lately about my website, my blog and how to promote myself as a photographer and artist in a sustainable way. Recently, I have began a newsletter (sign up here) and have updated the website more regularly.

I built this site myself, with a lot of help and advise from too many friends to list. Sometimes I think I should revamp the whole thing and begin from scratch again. I think building the SVA MFA Thesis site made me start reconsidering my own site but a major overhaul will have to wait for now.

If I were to hire it out I would surly not be with Livebooks. I think Livebooks is overpriced, not as functional as a website should be and the templates I have seen look cheesy. There are too many almost free ways to make a site better looking then Livebooks. I would recommend avoiding flash sites. Unless you know what you are dong, or you hair an expert. When I originally build my site I considered flash but since I wasn't that good at it I (thankfully) went for simple HTML. Many of the rules I followed came from the advise and philosophy of you Daniel Eatock and indexhibit. Some of the many rules I believe portfolio websites should follow are:

1. clean easy to navigate design.
2. Direct links to each area and image on the site.
3. clear contact information, artist's bio, and client, exhibition or CV.
4. large images without watermarks. and lastly, build a site you can view on a phone. I think phone portfolio viewing will become more and more normal as people move from their old phones to 3 and 4g smartphones like iPhones and Blackberrys.

Amazingly, Daniel Eatock and friends have turned indexhibit into a free platform for creating solid portfolio sites.

Another free option I have heard good things about is anyone out there tried that one? Let me know if you like it. If you want to spent some money on a site I would recommend hiring a company like my friends over at Wegee Design who can custom make you a site that best fits your vision in a clean design that will likely still be cheeper then Livebooks.

I just wanted to add this old commentary on web design from the a visual society blog:

2. Livebooks. It seems to be popular. Popular to the extent that if I visit a website and see the familiar name scroll across the top and familiar double thumbnails start loading down the right hand side a feeling of dread comes over me... I don't know what Livebooks cost, from what I have heard it's not the cheapest. Give your web designer buddy the cash instead and have him design a real site for you.


Editing Memory

From the NY Times,Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory. Quite startling new research being done on memory, which could change the way we deal with traumatic events. The drug allowing the editing of these memories may only be a few years away but what are the implications? if we experience something and it makes us who we are but that experience is taken away aren't we changing who we are?

best quote from the article comes at the end:

Yet as scientists begin to climb out of the dark foothills and into the dim light, they are now poised to alter the understanding of human nature in ways artists and writers have not.

Which also brings up the question are memories reliable enough to be edited in the first place? Recent research indicates that memory is more slippery that we would like to believe. In a study I am reading for research into a new project written by New Zealand researchers, Maryanne Garry, Matthew P. Gerrie titled, When Photographs Create False Memories they argue that memory itself can be fabricated. So, how will these new drugs know whet they are deleting 'real' memories or faked or fantasy memories? and what of these memories contribute to who you are?