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Spotlight

reproduction of the book, it’s presented at a scale and in a manner that makes it impossible for the reader not to see how the book informs the interpretation of the images. The entire book is scanned and displayed to the edges of the physical book. The original text accompanying the books is reprinted and, if necessary, translated to English. Each Errata edition also features a new essay that addresses the book itself as an artifact. Errata has produced these books in order to make these classics available to new generations of photographers. When a great book goes out of print, or when a book becomes collectable and its high price removes it from the reach

Clockwise from left: Books on Books 1: Eugene Atget, Photographe de Paris; Books on Books 4: Chris Killip, In Flagrante; Books on Books 2: Walker Evans, American Photographs

of students, a resource is lost. “There’s a relationship that you have with a book that I want to continue to respect,” notes Ladd. “Looking at a show in a museum is different than looking at a book. Looking at work on a computer is different from looking at a book, where you can look at your own time, at your own pace, at your own comfort.” While each book stands alone, Errata’s selection of these four books describes an arc through the history of photography. A theme runs through the set: each of the photographers exploits the vulnerable contradictions of the documentary idea of their respective times to create shaped, subjective narratives through their books (though this was done for Atget). And there is an almost direct thread as well: from Atget, who was introduced to Berenice Abbott through Man Ray, to Evans who admired Atget, to Killip, whose book follows in tone from Evans (via Robert Frank), to Ristelhueber, whose book of traces of ground damaged by war refers directly to a Man Ray photograph of Marcel Duchamp’s “Bride Stripped Bare…” collecting dust. But the lesson that these Books on Books offer is as much about the history of photography as it is about appreciating a good book. Hill’s essay in Books on Books 2: Walker Evans, American Photographs includes this beautiful passage which perhaps illuminates Evans’ perception that a book of Atget’s photographs produced by someone else could never truly belong to Atget: “Evans over-reaching into [American Photographs’] production came from a belief that only the control and orchestration of the smallest details could produce a powerful whole. This intuition came partly from his early experience as a page in the map room of the New York Public Library. The job allowed him first hand examination of the finest of fine books – the scent of leather bindings, the touch of handmade paper, the implications and subtext of elegant typography, the weight of words and their visual balance with illustrations – all of the sensuous joys offered by a fine book.” Leo Hsu For more information see www.errataeditions.com

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Issue 25  

Issue 25: Soil

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