Photography and the Artist’s Book

On the 21st of October 2011 I went to the Photography and the Artist’s Book Symposium, a collaboration between Salford School of Art & Design at the University of Salford,Hot Bed Press and Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections, which is where it was also held.

Although my interest is not really concerned with photography, there were some very thought provoking presentations. For example, Jane Pendlebury from MMU Special Collections gave a brief history of this artist’s book collection and explained how until the 70s the artist’s books were treated as normal stock. Only later were they catalogued with a separate sequence and treated as the objects/artifacts they are now considered.

The event made me think a lot about juxtaposition of images, sequencing, scale, the intimacy of the small (book) object and the physical act of turning the pages (or unfolding a sheet, etc) and the suspense that builds.

Most interesting in the context of my own research was PhD candidate David Penny, who uses a book format to represent his practice-as-research, a working document that rather than illustrating theory is part of his research in so much he considers the rough models he works with as part of his outcomes. He explained that it was the physical making that has been particularly useful for him, because it let him spend times with the images themselves. (I hope to interview David in future to find out more about his experiences, so watch this space).

As the symposium was located in the MMU Special Collections space, there was ample time to browse the Artist’s Book collection, and some of the books that featured in the presentations were laid out so that participants could have a closer look.

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