7: Book list

This list does not cover all the books I read for this course, but I have tried to include all those that I gave proper attention. Some have more detailed reviews elsewhere on my blog, some I've given a quick summary here. Those with no summary are those which made little overall impact in spite of the time expended on them.
  • A History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor, N - book of the Radio 4 series of the same name. MacGregor takes 100 objects from the British Museum collection and uses them to illustrate the development of human culture. Absolutely essential reading in my opinion, and clear evidence that, properly presented, objects can tell stories of immense importance and help us to understand the world in ways that words alone cannot.
  • The Genius of Photography: Badger, G
  • The British; Danziger, N - a fascinating study of UK society from two ends, the clearly very wealthy and the clearly not very wealthy, although as noted in this post I do feel that the middle class has been rather overlooked. Not normally my kind of material but I felt this was exceptional.
  • Semiotics - The Basics: Chandler, D - a very handy introduction to this subject. Well written and progressive...so you don't have to drag yourself through a master class to get a grip of the basics...generally helpful for my critical review.
  • Evocative Objects: Ed. Turkle, S - detailed review here. This book was a turning point for me. It pointed to areas of documentary that I felt were being overlooked by the course but particularly resonated with my interests.
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson - the man, the image & the world; Delpire, R et al
  • Here Comes Everybody; Killip,C
  • Survival Programmes:Battye, N; Steel-Perkins, C; Trevor, P - a classic along with Danziger's The British. Like that book not necessarily my cup of tea, but the text worked well with the images, it was difficult to be anything but appalled at the living conditions of many of the subjects. Social documentary at its best, in as much as I am qualified to judge.
  • The Photograph: A Visual and Cultural History: Clarke, G
  • The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography: Bolton, R. (ed.) - a collection of critical, and sometimes very theoretical essays on the nature of documentary photography. The one that had the most impact on me was Rosler's "In Around and Afterthoughts which looked at the nature of documentary photography, what is says about our relationship with the subjects and offers an alternative through her Bowery Project.
  • How the Other Half Lives: Jacob Riis
  • The Ongoing Moment: Geoff Dyer - Dyer's use of of the hat, and views from a window, as recurring themes gives this overview of the development of photography an almost whimsical feel. Some more thoughts here
  • Dogs: Elliott Erwitt - a humorous collection of images of dogs taken in street photogrpahy mode by Erwitt. Is it documentary? I would argue it is for all that many of the pictures do not show the presence of people.
  • American Photographs: Walker Evans - a well observed classic, which surprised me with the number of images which do not include peple
  • Paris: Brassai - another well observed classic...the nature of the photographs and the chosen subjects give a real feel for the underbelly of Paris.
  • Context and Narrative: Maria Short - a very obvious text-book, rather than a rad, but well written and full of helpful insights. I found the section on the interaction of text and images particularly useful ni conjunction with Berger (below)
  • Another Way of Telling: John Berger & Jean Mohr - a book I have revisited and referenced on multiple occaisions. Berger exams the manner in which images tell stories and develop narrative. He proposes a particular form of photo essay which he and Mohr develop together.
  • Make Prayers to the Raven: Richard Nelson - initially struggled to understand why this book, which is essentially an anthropological study of some native Alaskans, was included on the reading list...but there is a very interesting theme about how a belief that the world is somehow watching them affects the behaviour of the Koyukon people.
  • Man Ray: Thames and Hudson Photofile
  • Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction: Paul Bahn - Became a key text for me as I can see clear parallels between my practice and those of archaeologists - noet that I'm not saying my woirk is archaeology.
  • Gypsies: Koudelka, J - the images in this book have to be seen to be believed. It also seems to me to be a masterclass in curating a set of images.
  • The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Benjamin, W - a different kind of classic - densely written and theoretical. Will need further visits.
  • Pocket Essentials: Psychogeography ; Coverley, M. - less rewarding than I hoped...perhaps because that description also fits the concept discussed.
  • Behind the Mountains: Rax - an absolutely beautiful book. Rax has an affinity for his subject born of years of interaction and shared experience - this feels like how it should be done.
  • Stuff, Miller D - a fascinating study that addresses the idea that our personal possession are actually important - that things are not shallow possessions, but can actually shape us. It tries, in the authors words "...to expose ourselves to our own materiality."

No comments:

Post a Comment