Thinking by touch: Exploring the 'thingness' of photography in artists' books
. (Daly 2019)
An outline seminar plan for undergraduate photography students

Abstract

The materiality of the photographic print was once dismissed by Szarkowski (2005) as ‘not intrinsically beautiful. You're not supposed to look at the thing, you're supposed to look through it. It's a window.’ For photographers and visual artists of all disciplines, self-publishing has grown exponentially through digital print technologies with the Internet providing a new way to distribute their work to a worldwide audience. Gilbert (2015) suggests that contemporary practitioners now engage in publishing as art practice and have renegotiated the traditional publishing frameworks of processes, institutions and discourses. In the post-digital era, such books are made to be handled and scrutinised at close quarters in the personal space of the reader rather than behind glass in an art museum or library. Many photographers employ ‘thingness’ as reflexive strategy in their book works and as Vartanian (2009) observes, an astute choice of materials ‘can bring a heightened level of physicality to the photobook as [an] object.’ To that end, the activities I describe here make no distinction between artist’s books, small press publications, self-published books or photobooks. Indeed, an analysis of the intersection between these fields can make for a richer learning experience.

Unpublished

Full text pdf here

(above image: Tim Daly)