What is unique about the book as a form? What kind of possibilities does it provide for artistic experience? How does a book’s structure relate to its content and meaning?
I think in terms of the book always. I would say that there are book-photographers and wall-photographers, and of course you do both things, but one thing tends to be primary and I think for me and for a lot of people, [books] were primary because they were the first thing I was exposed to. If I had lived in New York City and was seeing exhibitions all the time, you know, maybe that style of photography would have come first, but living in Minnesota, I didn’t see the actual prints, I saw the books, which are their own kind of object. And it is really this interesting phenomenon now, where people have so much access to things on the internet that that becomes the primary experience for some people. – Alec Soth
I think that the book is a very special way to present [Redheaded Peckerwood], and any book lover will understand why: you can hold it in your hands. I designed the book . . . [to be] a bit smaller than the average photography book, I wanted it to feel good in my hands and I also hoped that the smaller size might help in some ways to pull the viewer in. – Christian Patterson
This feeling of being carried by the photographs is very powerful and I don’t know if I’ve been able to access that since, but there’s a certain intuition that came with taking these pictures. And if you look at the book it’s very straightforward, all the pictures are the same size and it’s quite small. I wanted all the photographs to be of equal weight, on the same scale, and they’re all square, which helps, and the design is very simple because there’s so much nuisance and noise going on inside the photographs that I wanted some sort of organizational method to clean it up and make it quiet.
Trying to contemplate what this notion of history is, and this notion of place, and how things are constantly shifting. Within the book I did this thing where you’ll see the deer and then a few pages later they’ll run, so again this repeating motif that happens over time that is completely suitable for the book format. – Danielle Mericle
If you happen to read it from front to back, I put this [circular] image in for a reason. And this is a little theory that I have that I kind of took from Jack Woody, who said something similar, which is, in a lot of books, somewhere around the two-thirds or three-quarters mark, you’ll find sort of a dead spot, where the reader will get a little tired or the reading of the book will start to feel a little sluggish. And often, when I’m designing a book, right around this section I’ll put something in that’s supposed to serve to kind of wake you up a little bit, something that you haven’t seen before or something that’s slightly different than everything else in the book. – Jason Fulford
[John Gossage’s The Pond] is a book, this is not a bunch of photographs in a book. This is not even something I want to see as an exhibition, this is a book that contains photographs where if I saw them outside of the context of the book, I wouldn’t think twice about them . . . I got this book and it just baffled me the first time I looked at it. I probably opened it up to the middle and saw a picture . . . which, as a student of photography, probably made very little sense to me. And for something that was reproduced in what looked to be a very expensive Aperture monograph, I was just sort of baffled. I didn’t understand it, what the subject was, was it the grass? Sticks? Was it the landscape receding into the background? It was only after probably months of looking and re-looking that I realized that it was about the space between the sticks, it was about nothing. As was this picture. Now, I’ve since come to appreciate John Gossage’s pictures in a way that goes beyond books . . . but at the time, I couldn’t understand a picture like this and the only way I could understand it was in the context of a book.
In my mind at least, an artists’ book is something that is a self-contained artwork. It’s not referencing something else, it’s not simply a collection of photographs that are put into a book, it’s something that finds its meaning through the form of the book and doesn’t function as well outside outside of that form. – Ron Jude