Homework One Assignment Art 333: Photobook January 23, 2013
By: Maria Margarette L. S. Concepcion
MMLSC In this paper, I will be looking at three Photobooks by Robert Frank, Ivan Sigal, and Taryn Simon in order to examine how these photographers were able to come up with a solution organize the narrative and create a sequence through the of their photobooks. Last class, we had a field trip to the Corcoran Gallery and visited two exhibitions by Ivan Sigal and Taryn Simon which were based on their photobook’s “White Road” and “The Man Declared Dead.” Before the field trip, we had looked at Robert Frank’s Photobook called the “The Americans.” Looking at each of the photographer’s books, they each have a different approach to conveying their own messages through the text, image, page layout, and subject matter. I will first start by taking about Robert Frank and his photobook titled “The Americans” and compare Sigal and Simon’s work. Frank’s black and white images were documenting the American Life between 1955 and 1956. As I flipped through the pages of the book, I noticed that for each page Frank had created a basic template for his text and images. The text would always appear at the bottom left side of the spread and the image would appear on the right side of the spread as you can see in Figure 1.
Figure 1 The text consisted of the name of the place and was that place was located. Throughout the book, the subject matter varied from different everyday situations, various people, and people who were of different socioeconomic status. The orientation of the photographs also changes 2
MMLSC throughout the book. Some are taken in a portrait orientation or as a landscape. The placement of the photographs on the right side of the page is not always aligned from the previous photograms. This shift in orientation and placement of the photographs cause rhythm and movement through the pages of the book. Ivan Sigal’s photobook titled “White Road” is about his seven year journey through Central Asia while he was designing media projects with the local communities in the area. During his journey, he took the opportunity to document the people that he had met and worked with over the years. The format of the books consists of only full blown images with just a little bit of white space creating a border on left and right hand side of the page. Sigal’s layouts of his pages are different compared to Frank’s who places text at the bottom right hand page and places an image on the right. Throughout Sigal’s book, the sizes of his photographs vary which creates movement and rhythm through the book. In one of his spreads, Sigal juxtaposes the idea of life and death as you can see in figure 2 and 3which allows the viewer to get a sense of how the images are sequenced. Ivan Sigal “White Road”
Like Ivan Sigal, Taryn Simon also traveled around the world but Simon researched blood lines and their stories. As I looked through the pages, I noticed that the layout of the text and images are different compared to Sigal’s and Frank’s Photobooks. There are two images per page with accompany text at the bottom right hand side of the page. The text on the pages acts as 3
MMLSC an information guide to help viewers understand the relationship and narrative between the text and photograph. The text provides a description of what is in the picture, the location, the reason why the person, and brief information about the bloodline. Simon took photographs of people, clothes, or left the space blank. The portraits of people mean that they were available or gave consent to have their photograph taken. The piece of clothing Figure 5 and 6 are perfect examples of how Simon was able to portray this. Taryn Simon “A Living Man Declared Dead”
Taryn’s layout of her photobook, A Living Man Declared Dead, was different compared to Sigal’s Photobook titled White Road. Simon was able to incorporate more images on a single page while using the text to document what the photographs were about and where the images were located. The images in Simon’s photobook are relatively smaller in scale than the two previous photobooks that I looked at which creates a different pace in rhythm, By looking at the different photobook’s by Robert Frank, Ivan Sigal, and Taryn Simon, it was interesting how they were able to create a narrative and sequence through their use of text and images. Perhaps in later projects in the class, I will be able to look back at these photobooks and incorporate some of the spread layouts with my ideas.