Book Hook: Picture Books

Don’t get me wrong; I love to read. But when it’s sunny and warm outside I have a difficult time focusing on a block of text. Sadly summer weather doesn’t stop me from spending too much time looking at images on the internet, the result being tired eyes. The solution? Books with few words and mostly images! It’s not an excuse to be lazy or less intellectual because the books included in this selection are ingenious; few words are necessary because the images speak for themselves. So hopefully reading about these books right now on your computer screen will motivate you to seek out the printed version and give your eyes a break.


Summer Sadness

The book Sad, Depressed, People (2012) by David Horvitz is a compilation of the search results provided by the keywords “sad, depressed, people” into a database of stock photographs. Stock photos provide a blank slate for the user’s content, and this assemblage of these similar images of generic photogenic sadness creates a parody of real emotional despair. Also included is a glossary of relevant terms (such as “Commodity Reform,” “Copyright Infringement,” and “Depression”) and an index of additional tags that accompany the images (“Forehead” and “Horizon over Water” for example). This basic contextualization transforms the images form a display of sadness to a politicized comment about commodity culture and its affects.


Mail Order

My mom only recently learned how to buy things on the internet, meaning that when I was growing up there were always a bunch of mail-order catalogues lying around the house. I used to play a game with my cousins where we would go through them and choose our favorite or least favorite things on each page, a great way to pass time... Also, the only thing I ever read on airplanes is Sky Mall. So I have seen a lot of catalogues, and I never imagined that re-photographing them could ever look as magical as they do in Sara MacKillop’s book Catalogue (2012).



Everyone Likes Colorful Starbursts

While the premise of Ryan Park’s It Wanted To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony) (2008) comes off as a bit cheesy, it is still a delightful book nonetheless. The artist has collected magazine images (probably from National Geographic) depicting different times and places. What links these images are the artist’s drawings of colored lines radiating from a central point that have been integrated into the original photographs. The similar drawings have been inserted into a variety of circumstances, alluding to the distribution and ubiquity of images and the influence of context on how an image or idea is used. It’s a good counterpart to Sad, Depressed, People.



Balancing Acts

I will admit that I saw the car commercial that copied Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s chain-reaction film The Way Things Go before I saw the actual film (it was 2003 ok?).  The images included in the book Equilibres (2007) are photographs by the artists, precursors to the celebrated film. These constructions of delicately balanced household objects are captivating to look at, as the artists say, “Balance is most beautiful just shortly before it collapses.” Each photograph is accompanied by an associative title, adding a mysterious narrative quality to the works.


Oranges and Electrical Chords

Maybe you recognize photographer Lucas Blalock’s work from the cover of Mousse magazine a few months ago (I’ve been seeing his work everywhere lately). The captivating and mysterious images in the book Towards a Warm Math (2011) are photographs that have been manipulated in Photoshop. These complicated pictorial spaces make you do a double take.


All books available at Motto

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