Gifts, Greetings and Books (of the year)
This holiday month finds me hard at work finishing up two books
for Steidl now scheduled for late 2013/early 2014, so I will not be
publishing my usual essay of inquiry into the nature of images and
photography. However, I do wish to share these recent notices.
Doing so seems a fitting celebration for a year-end entry.
There seem to be a plethora of "photobooks of the year" this
year. Perhaps this niche of the photoworld is making up for lost
time, when photobooks were not recognized as a near perfect vehicle
of photographic expression. It's interesting to note the new
appreciation for photobooks has come mostly after the explosion of
digital media. Digital media has emphasized the material qualities
of the book as idea embedded in a form and contained in an object.
What digital media tells us is that books as embedded
experience are indeed something to value.
This year my co-authored electronic book, Ken Schles'
Invisible City: A Digital Resource, has made it onto two
end-of-year "best" lists. One, by the sometime FOAM photography
critic Taco Hidde Bakker, could be well noted to be a kind of
anti-list, He says, "The most surprising 2012 photobook
publication to me has been The Photobook Club's free-of-charge e-book: Ken Schles - Invisible City: A Digital
Resource, a page-by-page digital representation
of the beautifully printed original 1988 book (which is rare and
expensive nowadays) embedded within notes around the production of
the book, and recent discussions. An excellent example of how
valuable older, sometimes overlooked and understudied, photobooks
can be lifted out of the shadows and be studied in a public realm
beyond the traditional library. But I encourage you to read more,
as Mr. Bakker does have some interesting things to say on photobook-listmania. And I'll also draw your
attention to Martin Brink's site, which is totally devoted to the
bourgeoning phenomena of digital photobooks. There he places
Ken Schles' Invisible City: A Digital Resource in his Top Digital Books of 2012. Available for the
iPad and for computers and other digital
readers in an enhanced pdf format. (Please note the pdf version is a
very large download due to embedded videos, which stream on the
Not to be outdone, my acclaimed book effort of 2011, Oculus,
also made it onto one of the "best photobook" book-lists this year.
And this is the second year running on that list's spot! That's
what you hope for in a good book: staying power. See Matt
Johnston's B*@t of 2012. And you can take a look at his
entry from last year here.
Oculus, which Melanie Light in a round-up of
significant books of the season by Le Journal de la Photographie
called, "a unique book that will speak to Every Man at every
level...beautifully crafted ... deeply satisfying ...This fourth
book marks Ken Schles as a true master of his art and culture maker
of the highest caliber." I would like to offer a signed copy of the book free of
shipping charges in the US. And I also offer the limited edition
slip-cased copy for a reduced rate world-wide before a January
1st price increase. Those of you in Europe, I encourage
you to buy the book from my beleaguered publishers, even if their distributor, Idea
Books, is mistakenly telling people that the book is sold out.
And as for staying power, Invisible City will be
celebrating its 25th anniversary of publication in 2013.
This week, my book Invisible City, shares Photo-Eye's
weekly auction with first editions by Robert Frank (The
Americans), William Klein (Moscow) and Ed Ruscha
(Then and Now). Eric Miles calls Invisible City,
"Perhaps one of the greatest portrayals of nocturnal urban life of
the 20th Century, certainly keeping equal company with Brassai's
Paris de Nuit." Watch the full presentation,
Invisible City comes in at the 3:10 mark. The auction only
has two days left (as of this writing), and the estimate on the
book is one of the lowest I've seen. So get your ass over there if you'd like to
bid. Invisible City was exhibited by the Museum of
Modern Art and listed in Auer and Auer compilation of significant
photobooks, but you can learn all about it for free with the
aforementioned Ken Schles' Invisible City: A Digital
Steidl will be reprinting Invisible City, and schedules
it for the fall 2013/spring 2014 catalog. To kick-off the
25th anniversary year, I will be having a five-month
exhibition of the work at the Center for Photography in Berkeley,
California, run out of Berkeley's School of Journalism. It will be
the first time I've exhibited the work in the United States in 17
years. The exhibition opens January 15th and runs through May 1st,
2013. I've made all new prints for the show, working from scanned
negatives. They are the best prints I've made of the work and those
scans were the foundation of the coming reprint by Steidl. The work
just arrived in California and I'm excited to be showing it
And if you can read simplified Chinese, do catch my interview on
digital photobooks and the use of new media in the January issue of
Photoworld, one of China's largest photo magazines.
Season's greetings, and best wishes for the coming year!