Chaired by Christiane Monarchi, Editor of Photomonitor, the symposium included contributions from artists and publishers / producers. Debate covered shifts in publishing as practice, the mechanisms of production and distribution, and photobook exhibition.
Melinda Gibson took the frequently set text The Photograph as Contemporary Art (Charlotte Cotton, 2009) and its contribution to the canonisation of certain photographs as the subject of her book project.
Text sections and images chosen from the book were faithfully reproduced on stickers. She then individually constructed the interior of the bound books.
This expensive and time-consuming solution came from collaboration with a designer. Edition numbers were not used; each book is signed and dated by the artist.
Edgar Martins suggested books give artistic projects a goal and through the process the goal acquires purpose.
With a history of successfully applying for funding, a time-consuming yet enabling task, he also approached publishers. To produce Black Holes and Other Inconsistencies he sent several mock-ups and project overviews. He then chose the publishing house that supported the project both monetarily and ideologically.
Another project examining an old industrial building, led to a book using details of the scientific instruments and cork walls in the design. The clock shaped dials conveying The Time Machine of the title. This was made as a limited edition that sold out leading to a run-on edition and eventually a collector’s edition.
Thijs groot Wassink, is one half of WassinkLundgren. Thijs described the book Empty Bottles, a series of photographs showing modern China juxtaposed with bottle collectors.
An attractive quality of producing a book of images is the control of the viewing context. To maintain this, he chose to have complete pages framed for the project’s exhibition.
Thijs suggested that choosing a designer is like choosing the best tool for the job. Designers that speak the language of the selected printing house are a real asset.
Thijs wryly stated that the only way to produce a pure artist book is to self-publish and to give the books away, but that this was not a way to sustain publishing.
Harry Hardie co-founder of HERE Press likened his organisation to a music industry research and development department of a record label.
HERE press covers are distinctive text based designs; due in part to image only covers not selling on the web. Belying the covers, their interior narratives unfold in pictorial form.
William Sadowski spoke about the exhibition series Photobookshow, these are a snapshot of what is available in the photobook publishing sector.
‘Photobookshow A,’ received 200 submissions for exhibition, now they deliver large international shows.
Their online presence offers video walkthroughs of the donated books via Vimeo.
Emmanuelle Waeckerle, spoke about the bookRoom press at UCA. It is equipped to make books using traditional and modern methods and is open to all.
bookRoom has a growing collection of ‘bookworks’ by recent graduates, cluster members, visiting artists and other contributors. UCA has made these accessible via the online catalogue using their “turn the page” technology.
Rodrigo Orrantia, works at Lucid-ly, producing photographic shows including ‘Contemporary Photobooks’ with works by Martin Parr, Sipke Visser and Melinda Gibson.
He discussed how with online vanity publishing open to all and advances in e-books that artist books are only part of a dynamic landscape.
Success of art books then comes from open collaboration with book designers, printers and photographers.
Image copyright: Dimitra Kountiou