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A conversation with Markus Schaden

A conversation with Markus Schaden about Photobooks and digital

(21 juin 2016 - Terrasse de l’hotel du forum - In parallel of the shortlist of the book of the year price of the rencontres d’Arles)



OC:

Markus Schaden, you are a librarian, publisher, curator, founder of the Photobook Musuem, you have been one of the most active and innovative on the photobook scene for the beginning of the 2000 years and before. You have experimented many kinds of published forms, including print on demand. It was the case with our first collaboration, Galaxie, my first book, published by White press, and on which you contributed. We also made a launch of this publication during the first edition of Supermarkt in 2009.

Nowadays, I am working on a Phd about influences of digital on photobooks (which doesn’t mean I study what is commonly called digital books). I start to study all the steps on which digital influenced photobooks, with the hypothesis that a new history of photobooks started at the begginning of the century, when digital was seriously in all the step of the Photobook production.


MS:

You mean « digital » in term of production, in term of preparing images?


OC:

I mean everything, there is a software part, a cultural part, the fact that the classical repartition of jobs around the production have been completely reorganized.

My questions are simple, the first one is : when and how did you start to interest yourself in photobooks?


MS:

This is a long story Olivier. I started to be interested on photobooks around the mid eighties. I became a book seller and started my job in 1984.

Step 2 was: during my education as a book seller, I could take over a shop, which included a big art section; So I was the chief book dealer of this small store, and there was a section of photography, we had really nice clients who teached me about books like my early discoveries of photographers like Walker Evans, Doisneau,, William Klein and so much more…

The real first life changing connected to photobooks was a book by Chargesheimer : ’Unter Krahnenbäumen' . I discovered a copy of this book in Frankfurt in my book dealer store. I bought it, and then changed my decision to go to Berlin after education as a book seller because the book of Chargesheimer, which was focused on the city of Köln, made me fall in love with my city again. It changed my view on the city and I changed my plans. It was a love story with the city, the photobook and the photographer which is still continuing because I am working on an exhibition with Chargesheimer for the photobook museum.

Then after I continued my bookseller carrier and changed a bit. I was hired by Walter König Art book store in Köln, after years I built up the first shop I get from Walter König, the section of photography. I developed it so much that finally König came and said « Hey, this looks like a photography book store » and I said to König « we should make a photography book shop ». It was around 1984


OC

Walter König was not really focused on photobooks?


MS:

His answer was « I like photography but I don’t love it. I love art. Ed Ruscha, Mapplethorpe, all these people are Ok but we don’t go specially to a Book store specialized in photobooks. I said « OK König, then I will go from my own » he said « OK, please do »…

I sat together in a cafe with my brother Christoph, and Winfried Heininger (who is now editor at Kodoji press). If we wanna make a photobook store, we had to do 2 things : on one hand we had to experience publishing of photobooks and we had to see what the other photobook stores did. It was the plan. First I did a travel to Paris and a travel to New-York, looking at « La chambre claire », the legendary Paris Book store and the Mecka of photobooks, ‘Photographer’s place’ in Mersey Street, New-York.

It was in 1985.

Paris was OK but in New-York, it happened that I needed experience to buy an expensive book. So my grand mother gave me some money, 500 Marks, which was there a few hundreds dollars. I wanted really to buy a very expensive book, I approached Mersey street photographers’ place, my Mecka, and I was really disappointed : all the books were in plastic, there was a very infantely team and staff. I remember there was Bruce Davidson subway book under vitrine, signed, which cost like USD 400, exactly what I got.

It happened that they did not even let me look at the copy, they let it only for the lucky buyer. I left the shop to the Brooklyn bridge, with my former wife, and I decided : if this is the Mecka of photography books, I can make it better.

Back home we made a plan to start with publishing, then we published our first books, made all the experiences, the good ones’ and the bad ones’, losing money, made mistakes, whatever, so..

And then we had to open the bookstore. After One year of preparation we decided to open in Summer 1988, while Photokina. We have done the first reprint of Chargesheimer; We decided to make a real vintage reprint, very lookalike, a facsimile edition of it. Bookshop worked well, publishing was also OK but to make a long story shot, we had a very good response from the beginning but my idea to set up the store is just ruiny as a everyday life, all the week. It was just a fixed idea.

So, on the long time we had to develop new experience as in display, publishing, exhibiting, all the time to promote, to establish the photobook in any way. one thing was to produce, one other was to sell books about books, cause we wanted to help our audience to know more about the subject.

And it was a parallel guided by Andrew Roth’s ‘The book of 101 books, the dutch made also one, Martin Parr started his series of ‘Photobook, An history’, we had a lot of books about books. We needed to change a little bit the publishing, quit the country, connect the publication to the places actors were, the fairs. We moved to the first Paris Photo, we were about in 1999.

First year in Arles was 2000, at Actes Sud bookshop and then at Espace Van Gogh, when Gilles Mora (former director of Rencontres d’Arles) decided to relaunch the book market. And then we went to Armory show in New-York, in Amsterdam… Theses fairs became more and more established.

Finally to the real high and level year in Arles, Martin Parr was the artistic director in 2004 and invited so many book makers, people like Rinko Kawauchi, Kanamura, this was inbelievable. Imagine, from a point of view from today: I ordered 400 copies of Utatane from Rinko Kawauchi. We were so excitted by this book, we wanted to sell it and we did. It was the most successful book we have had. And now we had to check into my old archive to realize how many exciting book signing we organized with photographers like Lee Friedlander, Hilla Bescher, David Goldblatt, I introduced Anders Peterson to William Eggleston, etc. So it was a great time. I continued publishing in this great time but the distribution thing was always difficult, to find your clients even if to make small round (14:30) and we invited also - We said OK we sell print together, we started to make kind of special editions, that was not really common sense at this time.

So we started to make special editions, kind of pirate editions: if the book had a horrible cover, we bought cheap copies and made a new cover, we made hundred copies of Fridelander, Eggleston, Winnogrand.

And then we started following the digital printing process; it was a big change, a paradigm change on how you can deal with your own work, teaching and advising photographers.

This was the idea : how can young photographers (people who had no real chance to get on this, like two dozens or 50 publishers around the world only publishing classical books) - How you can deal with and manage early self-publishing?

So was experiment we did, a kind of inviting print on demand. There was firstly Doug Rickard ‘A new American picture’, then … you with ‘Galaxie’ in 2009. We printed each time 20 books a bit more expensive than offset process. And then we produced another 20 exemplaries. We used this idea we had before : Print, signing, launching,.. So with the money we go ahead.


OC

It was the principle of Print On Demand, more expensive for one exemplary but no need to produce big quantities …


MS

Yes exactly !

Finally ending up also, in the todays’ world, it was a try to establish the Photobook, to make it really fill as a part of general culture, a visual literature. The experience was globally fantastic.

You can spread the pictures, all the details, understanding photography. Reading the Photobook is one thing, it is about same as literature. You can read James Joyce ’s Ulysses, if you understand it.

But it was another topic, we tried to develop the Photobook.. so we went on. Experience was sometimes good, sometimes less, OK. The Photobook was raising to become more popular, the more and more coming up push from self publishing, more book sellers, more competition … And I lost a little bit my regular audience … so there were a lot of professional and other book dealers buying at the schaden.com online store ..

I decided at new year evening 2011-2012 that we needed an other challenge. I decided to close the shop and looked for new mission in the Photobook world. And the nice thing was that Lesley Martin asked me to be the guest editor at the Aperture Photobook review 2012. And I said « Lesley, I just closed the shop » and as american style she answered « That’s just perfect, you have time, you can think about the future.. so you are our man » and I said « Ok, I will do it »

Rethinking the whole thing of the Schaden.com and the Schaden publishing, being into the establishing and into the developing Photobook culture made me think I needed an institution. I was a little bit step away from the classic business, I know I am a bookdealer from the beginning, I knew by heart the tradition and the classic way of distribution from bookshops. But we couldn’t change, we couldn’t say ask 5 euros to enter the bookshop. I said « What could we do? » Edition, archive like the AMC or whatever…. and I had this day with my kids, I visited the kids book museum near Köln. It was fantastic :

Collection of photobooks, an exhibition space explaining illustrations, a fantastic reading room for the kids on the rooftop.. and I said « Waow, this is a cool museum for books » It was very active, including new things, not only focused on historical books and objects under vitrines. It was a very active, very modern and a very inclusive place.

I was thinking « Why not think about the Photobook like a museum for books, not only an archive.. Finding new ways to communicate around this culture and use the experience we had before, also from the Photobook masterclass program, the evolution of the Photobook, whatever,.. to bring all this energy with all the team into this new museum project. Finally we set up in one year, it was a great premiere, a little bit exhausting because it was a short time for a such massive exhibition, 40 shows on 6000 square meters… We use all our power and needed a kind of relaxing time after. But the program to travel, with a kind of mobile, take our time to develop a new strategy, establishing this culture and finding new ways, travelling and find where should be the permanent resident place. This is where we now are .

I think for the future doing the same as we did. It’s also interesting to look back on this golden decade of the Photobooks, from the mid-nineties, looking at how it has been developped. That’s why I really appreciate that you do this study on this phenomen.


OC

What is important in my investigation is to identify some turning point that contributed to this phenomen. For me, one of this point is the use of the term photobook.

I use to refers to a text by David Campany where he wonders why no traces of the term could be find into historical and theorical writings before the years 2000.

That could means that there is a culture but no consciousness of it.

Can you remember the time we started to use it?


MS

I agree totally. I think this a good starting point, and it is still the definition if you see people now applications about books are also raising, also like art historican are also now being busy - I have just read a publication from Munich, looking at the aesthetic of the photobook in Germany from the 40’s to today - and it struggle also about the definition.

I think this is the future we have : on one hand to look exactly where are the turning and the marking point , the definition of the term photobook …Who was on the business? Who marked finally important steps? How was the production level? How did the booksellers react? How was the first to …etc ?

My brother Christoph (Schaden) did this lecture in Vienna and he was searching about when was the first time a Photobook showed up in a photographic exhibition as an established medium. And he found out that it was a show of Gilles Peress at the Folkwang museum in Essen, Germany. There were 58 editions of the same book (« The silence »), opened on double pages and exhibited on a long stream. There was no prints on the show, only 58 copies of the same book. It is a very important point on the photobook showing up in this all curatorial photographic world.

The time before, they would just do it as kind of library, the book as object under a window.

There are lots of things to do specially in the german culture of photography, because there is still a problem between digital and analog - All the documents about photobooks, the early reviews, etc… Did you know that Steinhot, Culture leader of Kodak, made a publication about periodical publication reviews on photobooks. I didn’t know, this is somewhere in an archive in Köln. Otherwise, an early Photokina exhibition about photography books happened in 1984 by Manfred Heiting, incuding Avedon, the early Walker Evans, etc.

Next to the digital, analog is also like where is the photobook showing up as a medium standing for itself, as an expression within photography and not only a catalog of pictures. So this was like early things happened in the late seventies. We found also photobook reviewed - I think America was the most educated, the most high leveled reviewing country and we did also a research for the Aperture Photobook review, about early Bernd and Hilla Bescher’s books.. and coming back to Chargesheimer, there was also a note in a magazine which said « There is no english edition of Chargesheimer « Köln 5 Uhr 30 » we can’t do a review; And because with Bernd and Hilla Bescher, I had an english edition published on MIT press. We also can do a review on that. Like it was also a nice note on Walker Evans catalog.There was also reviewed some Sander and Renger-Patsch Photobooks and it was also a review on August Sander late 20’s Photobooks. He brought the copies in Paris on a visit and then he made a note on his own archive, saying that Renger-Patsch was 'this and that'.

So there is a lot of history.. but I think from my point of view, that the digital innovation from speed and tempo producing photography, printing it, reproducing the image, became I think the most influencal landmark or starting point of this raising Photobook manner. Because I think in one hand there is the sharing about digital - The Internet opened a quick reasonable access, still to look at pictures, to find them, to buy them, to make research, whatever.. This was opening a new field, also like now. Coming back to the influence about self distributing, It’s also a chance : you can reach your own clients. The global network created a kind of maybe 20 thousand people like a global community for Photobook lovers. And now it’s like growing slowly.

The future maybe is also to not let anolog fight versus digital. it’s not paper versus screen. it’s more like: Use the screen or use the paper for the perfects shapes for the qualities in distribution. There’s no need to starify ebooks. For sure, the book is always a physical experience.

And a photobook made into a digital photobook is different than a ebook. But on the other hand there are also experience of sometimes some digital thing is more cooler than a printed one. It has changed I think for a future to look as, maybe as a Gutenberg Galaxy thing, to make people give an access to a digital form of free reproduced photobooks. This is a chance to delevoping culture and this is necessary.

There’s one experience for that; When I was in Indonesia and made my lecture « Photobook culture in Europe or whatever in the last 20 years », and then this guy - I showed them a copy of Christer Strömholm's Place Blanche. « Great, but do you know we can’t real access? we can’t really buy it » because it is too expensive or sticked on the custom, whatever. And i said « Why don’t you make an ebook? » And on saturday morning at 10 o’clock, 500 people just took an iphone and I said « You could read it here » I was in front of all these guys and I thought « Finally you are right ». It’s also like this specially in Asia, they are angry to see stuff. The limited things is mostly nice but we should not lose the basic overview that we really do. We need establishing and developing a visual culture. And it’s following an iconic turn - Images are becoming outbag - It is more important people use in photograph much more.


OC

It makes me remind the main argument Jeffrey Ladd used with Errata edition : make accessible an History, a culture to students who are not able to pay collectible photobooks.

But he chose to make a book on book that make a difference from a facsimile or a digitalized reproduction.

One of the turning point I am working on, is the moment books have been reproduced like on errata editions, from collectible items, revealing their age ad their conditions.

For me this a totally digital practice, because digital in a way can fix the time and the age; With these books, it was like building new ruins


MS

On an other hand, there is this exemple of Sha Sha Sha. Mark Pearson from Sha Sha Sha, he scanned his digital personal copies, coming from Daido and from all these masters… For the exhibitions we did at the photobook museum, we reprinted their digital version again.

For sure, it’s an experience for me. I got to say I discovered some really good work looking at double pages on digital photobooks bought for 1 dollar at Sha Sha Sha application. Finally I would love better to get a digital version for 1 dollar, instead of paying 2000 dollars for a collectible book. This is a good alternative.

If you look at the education program, to develop and distribute the idea of the photobook, it should not be censorship because of too much paper or if we love or hate digital.. whatever; there are so many options ; I think the full power should really trust using all ways of printing, publishing, paper (cheap and expensive), digital, sharing - people have to know about -

Now look at the books on books, I think about the « Latin-American photobboks », which was exhibited at Le Bal ; do we have access to all these masterpieces from Latin America by watching only few double pages on a catalog? So it needs a reprint and that’s represent a lot of stuff for the publishers. Look at Akio Nagasawa with the reprint of Kikuji Kawada ‘The Map’ last year - That’s such an exciting thing. He did 500 copies, 250 € each and sold out in two days. This needed 5000 copies for 100 € to see and upper the level of knowledge, teaching and sharing.

Coming back to the question of digital, printing now on things which are not classics : Chromogenic prints, barit papers, whatever,.. This is like the classics printing but now using new technologies allow us to print on wall papers, plastics, canvas and with affordable costs; We did a print of Stephen Shore L.A. Brea matrix for the Photobook museum 5mX5m for 500 euros. It was fantastic.

I think finally to educate, plane and develop the book as a central medium within photography. this is still the central mission, and without digital it would not happen.


OC

What is your feeling as a librarian and editor about the explosion of self published Photobooks?


MS

I made two observations.

The selfpublishing seems very free and powerfull and generate experiments which I love. So innovations are not going from the established houses. Classic and established photographers and houses are a little bit sticked to the classic format. I think the self publishing can be innovative and give inspiration to classic houses. Even young photographers of 15 years old are selfpublishing and they are breaking rules, making new experiments. This is what we are looking for

Furthermore the massive attack on self published books is that this is very difficult to keep an overview on the production, because the standard is not really good and the outstanding is still rare.

This is not a question of digital and analog, not about selfpublishing or classic publishing. For me, the most important point is about search, teaching, and the editing process: How to make a good Photobook? What is the secret behind it ? Why does several books works, why does a lot of books not work ? Why do they fail ? what is the decision about cover, concept, secrets, picture editing ?

If you look back in a classic publishing house, doing for an exemple Britain literature, if you are an author, you make the script of a new novel : Then you go to the publishing house and you have a first reader. He looks if your writing is OK, if the sentences are well made, if the concept and understanding is OK, if title works, … so he will be the first reader and he will give you a feedback. HE is not the author, he is the corrector, the editor; This is a process I am missing in photography selfpublishing. There is no correction. In the houses, sometimes designers do editing but designers should do design, work on the form, not doing editing. Some are good, some are not good, some have experienced, …

But for me it’s still kind of a blackhole; How do some publishers manage to do so horrible books? Why do they have a great photographic project and the final project as a book is a nightmare. We had a great exemple here for the Photobook of the year price, a book I have to say published by Prestel, a visual story of a young lady photographer. It’s a very impressive photographic project, with a sick girl losing progressively her hair, living private situations, all the kinds of thinks she is doing to help herself… but the fully book has a horrible design, mixing up every playground of you can use usually like objects things. It’s a confusing noise. So this is like a totally failed project.

I would love to make a open youtube channel and every week take a book and explain why it is not working, what could we do to for emergency rescuing it, or re-edit it.

I think it’s still feels like a little bit walking in the dark. Even the big massive poetic books with double pictures, it’s like people make it by emotional feeling of the ballet. For sure it needs a lot of feeling, because your eye automatically makes connections. This is a learning process of editing and sequencing, and this is what the young self publishers mostly do, sometimes by accident, sometimes very obvious, very well. And the old houses sometimes are too much on the pleasure, on the big ego established photographers, with nobody really able to change a Misrach book, and make a dummy totally radical.

So I think this all process, the making off needs a new focus, specially an education; This is what we do in all the classes, with teaching. We must care about the audience, we don’t have to be too arrogant, only be on the masterpiece level. We are taking care of the role of photographer that have political statements or manifestos. That’s the same as literature … Sotchi olympics or whatever.. personal, tragedies, novels, lyrics, poems.. it’s a mix of different ingredients. This is what we have to explain to a general reader audience but also inside the makers and the publishers. So it needs to be the more and more obvious, .. what is out to hand, out to act, the two is good. So it needs finally a kind of a manifesto. And I think also we could to do it maybe in one or two years a kind of weird book and create new words. It’s a more complex description like a RAW dummy, like a very pure one or how are presenting it, all the publishing process in a publishing house or as a self publisher.. and to change and develop also the strategies in publishing .. because we need the big houses, we need even Taschen ..


OC

That’s a sign of the times, we need to get everything faster than ever and in the same time we lose important part in the process..


MS

What we should is to be obvious, everyone of us was maybe from the last two decades, active, raising up and making his experiences and now producing. I think we all shouted away that this is a fantastic culture, it has so many options, it’s a global Esperanto which has existed already and then we have also to explain that we don’t only make it for ourselves. We do it for readers, we do it for consumers, we do it for people who are not Photobook collectors. It’s like cinema; if you go to movies, you don’t have to be a movie collector, it should be a part of a general culture. Looking at the world and change it. it’s finally the mission we have on the flags of the Photobook museum and we want also to distribute to the crowd and all people involved. We need to find more like a common idea of what we really do.


OC

Did you feel with your experiment an important change of the photobook forms as soon as they were conceived with digital softwares?


MS

Not so much in the the quality because the digital quality is very stable. But the quality of the old analog outcomes prints, even printed books a very fluid. if you had a good darkroom in the eighties, making C-prints, it was OK. If you had the bad we miss it. For me it feeled very fixed if you have just a negative and you need another printer.

Now, digital makes you feel more that you can do interpretations. You make a choice on what you wanna have, .. digital feels for me more safe ..

Then how Stephen Shore said about his own work « the old vintage prints, prints I have had, there’s nothing nostalgic about it ». It’s just a missing colors, just bad prints sometimes we have … It’s like these horrible printing we had in the eighties with Aperture. We were missing the quality. The tendency of the photo market is to declare it as a nostalgic item. This is the vintage print. But for me, photography and also prints have to be very much in time. For sure I have my full respect for old prints and their beautyness, the quality of the Baryt, whatever… You don’t have to convince me, I don’t want to say this is bullshit; but it is also changing, a new development forced by the digital .. So we have to look at the progress. We do lose something for sure but that’s evolution, we lose always something and this always is something new.

It could be in photography, printing, even in the photobooks, the digital is a chance to manage by your own, to get freedom, the chance to make a clear decision on your own work.. this freedom was at the time given to the lazy dark room printer, who made finally the color management of your prints. Now you’re free and for sure it gives a bigger responsability to the artist or to the photographer. This is good and it need an education to be aware. It is still also to see about the full complex; it is not about like I was complaining about digital. There are always things we have to do which concern of the new progress and change from more analog to more digital. … Again for me it’s not it's not about good or bad, use what you have or not. it happened so uses it !


OC

The idea behind my question was that everything was impacted, from editing and typography to the development of complex book designs


MS

But I would say, in a form, digital finally, stay a technical point , in a way like in the cameras … so for sure Oscar Barnack, making the first 35 mm, he made the change and then the kodak film came out and then the color films.. So the innovation always come with technology. This is also the same in printing, in publishing and whatever else. The starting point is the analog transition to digital.

On the long run, I think this is the same with the quality of the image, of the picture, and the reference … how people take it. it’s not so much forced by the pure technology, it’s more like how photographer make the publishers use it, …the picture itself, maybe the digital push it more on top but it also waisting sometimes it, because there are too much images .. you can’t find the real one with the digital manipulation. there is also the old idea that the photography is like truth and you are not allowed to change it. Look at the old darkroom tricks of all these photographers. How are they pushing up the black and white prints, its material and whatever make them nice, including stuff made right now; This is more like an handling like a management. For me it’s not affecting so much the image itself.


OC

To which level do you locate the bigger influence of digital on photobooks?


MS

For me there are two things on one, It’s becoming more democratic because everybody can finally design, make the images and experience it. It’s the same a little bit like the editing thing. It’s speeding up.. it gives power … but make a good design on a computer with a good software is not enough to understand what is typography. For sure the old masters, they were just a little crew of really good ones, for sure they had all this experience, the rest couldn't do it because they were not experience at all.

Now everyone has access, you have your types on the computer, so it makes it more into a mass (That’s the same with photography, everybody can do it) but the problem is about knowledge and education of background, the impact of… What do you do? what is the choice of the letter type? the font you use.. it is a democratic innovation but I think it also need a time for people to experience it, to make mistakes, and then getting into the knowledge, entering a new world. So finally maybe I am not the man to fix this but I still a little bit have the impression that for sure, .. it’s opening, sharing, more democratic and everybody finally can use it.. and if you can use it in the right way and create a master piece, it’s OK.

We can come back to the real, pure, amateur, semi-professional photobook. You could ask me: « Markus, do you think people run in a drugstore and buy a photobook for 4,99€? » Like a mass market photo album from your last holidays. Is it also a photobook? What’s happening there?

For me it is finally a thing, it’s like a photo album acting with photography.. and for sure 99% of these people, they can manage it, editing.. sometimes you can press a button and iphoto can do it for you. I have to say the experience, specially with amateurs, is a very easy step to explain to people why photographs works on a page, on a double page, on a full page.. It’s a basic instrument you have to teach only to make a former horrible « My New-York trip in 2014 » into a cool private photo album where the photography works. It’s basic rules like : « delete », « noisy » , « massive » , « too abstract ones », « Look at the ones which is really good »… This is education.

I have to say, Wolfgang Zuborn and we, we made these experiments, standing for a day in a droguery Muller shop… people came with their sticks and we said : Can we help to edit your album? We made them a really new editing, a new cover they were like blown away. How easy in one hand it is, how easy is it to understand; That is also an experiment on how people use digital chance to make their own photobooks. but there are only a few steps to make the quality a little bit better, and then it’s like understanding reading photography, to understand how and why photographs works in a book, page by page, as a narrative thing : Introduction, climax, ending. I think it’s the same rules and the same structure as the professional things. And it was a nice experiment to do..


OC

Do you think the dematerialized books will find a place in the future of publishing?


MS

My wish is that we find a very accessible form of digital publishing, like a digital library where people from all over the world - which could have a chance to look at the digital - and maybe there is also a future that you can print out things, easily. I think the future Photobook is very very strong connected to the digital world. And the experience to look at books, I don’t know how, with the new google glasses or whatever is coming - we need some innovation not only from the Photobook sector - If you just transfer a technology developed elsewhere to the Photoook, maybe you can have an experience :

you can take the Photobook producing it on a wide book. there is already a screener which make the book lively. i think the future will be great.


OC

Coming back a little bit earlier, do you agree if I affirmate that the digital influenced the creation of a new contemporary history of the Photobook?


MS

Yes I agree.

How would the things go on if the digital revolution didn’t happened. We were all running with the Kodak boxes, trying to find a few publishers. I think the big freedom and evolution started with Steven Sasson, the guy who brought the first digital camera. Maybe this is nice to look in kind of innovations.

As a bookseller, I can’t avoid to make the last recommandations, specially in catalogs, my own interest is in what’s coming on, to look at movement and innovation generally. I think I would love to recommend a fantastic catalog made by the Walker Art center in Minneapolis, called « Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia ». The catalog itself has a fantastic design, really high in standard, opening a kind of looking to the seventies with all the people involved in San Francisco … hippies, freedom, utopia, architecture, art, photography, Marshall MacLuhan, everything; It’s a real experience to look how everything is connected, and how the seventies, tried to create a very cool future for the world.

And it has collapsed in the late seventies. I think sometimes it’s good to change the point of view, and this hippie modernism is a great experience.


OC :

About the definition of Photobook, John Gossage declare hat a good Photobook is a container of a good Photo project. It’s a short and simple definition I can a agree in a part with, but do you think we can open it?


MS : On one hand I like the definition of John Gossage, but for me it more expresses what a Photobook needs to have to be a good one. It’s excluding something…

If you have all the ways around maybe what we discover could be like a good Photobook. If you have a good work, you bring it into the perfect form and you produce it in the follow up solutions in the best way, then you have a fantastic Photobook.

But what do we do with books about countries, about protest things, about limited pass by found object, porno catalogs of the seventies, even a good album?

About a definition… On a photobook, photographic images (that’s my low level) have to play an important role as the content of this book, text could be also included as description, but photographic images must play a major role, maybe more than 50 percent, .. and not only visual literature — catalog could be a good Photobook— also including that a good photographic book could be a drawing a book about photography… I would leave it open.. on a really concrete and pure version, there is not a real definition right now, it has to be made.. and we are working on it.

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