Saturday, May 13, 2017


And we all thought that would be the end of books when the computer and all its textual and illustrative sideshows came into our life. Kindle is the treasury of a thousand books in your back pocket - providing you don't sit on it.

But, thankfully that's not the way it went. There's an unbelievable raft of printed books coming out all the time. Nobody knows what you're buying. You can read them in private, feel the paper, smell the ink, and there's no downtime. They also carry a certain weight.

In this exhibition (extended to end June, except for week of 6-13 June), and hopefully in his upcoming talk, Jean Marc Godès makes the ultimate statement on the book.
Les photographies de la collection "LIVRES EN VIE" constituent une ressource unique au niveau international. Elles sont conçues pour contribuer, en France et à l'étranger, à la promotion du livre et de l'écrit ainsi qu'à la prévention et à la lutte contre l'illettrisme. Les photographies de Jean-Marc GODÈS sont de réelles mises en scènes, allant de la conception jusqu'à la réalisation du projet artistique. Il n'y a pas de montage informatique.
In his mission statement here he is hoping to promote books, and writing, and contribute to the prevention of, and the fight against, illiteracy. He also assures us that there is no Photoshopping here. What you see is what there was.

I dropped in the other day in a sceptical frame of mind. I had just seen the blurb, part of which is reproduced above, and I thought it a bit pretentious.

It didn't take long for me to change my mind. This is a fantastic (including in the sense of fantasy) exploration of the actual and potential role of the book in people's lives. I loved it.

I'll just give a few examples to whet your appetite:

And not forgetting the sheet music (above & below).

The above examples are not necessarily those I would have picked had I the full range to choose from. The problem was reflections. The photos are mounted in glass and the daylight in the room creates loads of reflections, making not only photographing but actually viewing some of the photos difficult. I tried a load of angles, with and without flash, but to almost no avail. I have drawn attention to this problem elsewhere and it needs a bit of thought given to it.

This is an illustration of one of my angular contortions the only effect of which was to actually include myself in the photo. At least it proves I was there (or does it?).

While I'm on the question of presentation, I think Jean Marc needs a minor rethink on his website. Dark print on a dark background is impossible to read and I had to highlight the text to read it. Straight black and white with a nice plain font can look very classy in these days of colour saturation. It can also be easily read, surely a major desideratum given his mission statement.

Anyway go see the exhibition. This is an exciting and stimulating project.

Update 19/5/2017: The talk was excellent. I've done a blog post here.

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