Books v photographs

March 5, 2010

Seems 1984 still inspires a lot of people. I came across one of those simple but great ideas – thankfully one which I don’t feel bad about not coming up with, as I know I’d never have kept it up – The first 365 words of 1984 in pictures, one a day for a year.
It took a while for me to realise the person doing this project is Aleks Krotosk, who wrote and presented BBC2’s series The Virtual Revolution. Excellent series by a clever bugger, which I suppose explains why she’s now Dr Krotosk. In a bit of multi-medianess, the telly series is now appearing as a radio series on the World Service.

Another book that has inspired, is Mishka Henna’s new Blurb book “Photography Is.” This is a small but perfectly formed 127 page paperback, seemingly made up of the results of a Google search of the phrase “Photography is”. And it does not contain a single photo. The result is almost meditative and another of those ideas I wish I’d thought of (and may yet).

Books (though rarely photographic ones) have always been things worthy of the plunder. Funnily enough it’s one of Orwell’s essays rather than 1984, which I found rang true whilst I was working on my cctv project. His ‘Why I Write’ – for me could have been called ‘Why I Photograph’ and was part of my exhibition sermon, which in case you were not there, or couldn’t hear above the kazoo goes like this:

My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write photograph I do not say to myself, “I am going to produce a work of art”. I write photograph it because there is some lie I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work if it was not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who looks at my work will see even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able to and do not want to completely abandon the world-view acquired in childhood. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.

And thanks for the photo to Rolo, who I have nearly forgiven for captioning it “He took the opportunity to burden us with a reading of all Sarah’s cake recipes. 2 hours 43 minutes for his speech”.


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