Tag Archives: Art School

Conceptual photography

For its latest issue (#71), Source magazine is asking the question, “What is conceptual photography?” To go along with the mag they have produced three short talking-head videos exploring this question with a handful of artists and critics. The importance of the “concept” in contemporary photography has always interested me. In the photo-world, the question regularly pops up about why “straight” photography isn’t taken seriously by the art world. Those in the straight photography corner often appear to see conceptual photography as impure in some way, as if it were not what photography is really about. Without wanting to spark off another one of these debates, it seems to me that concept is indeed considered paramount in Western art photography today (in my experience, this is not at all the case in Japan, where “serious” photography can still very much be about wandering around with a camera and taking pictures). For example, I’m often struck by young photographers struggling to hang an ill-fitting artist statement with some big ideas in it over the shoulders of work that is clearly not conceptual in the slightest… presumably because they have been taught to do so in art school. Wherever you stand on this question (or however delightfully far away you stand from it) these videos provide an interesting look at how photography became so excited about concepts and what the hell “conceptual photography” is even supposed to mean in the first place.

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Interview: Jon Rafman, The lack of history in the post-Internet age

 

Jon Rafman is a Canadian artist and filmmaker based in Montreal. He recently gave a talk about his work entitled “In Search of the Virtual Sublime” at the Gaité Lyrique, a new space devoted to digital culture in Paris. I met up with Jon in a café near the Jardin du Luxembourg to discuss Google Street View, street photography, the cyberflâneur and what the future looks like.

How did you start working in the digital space?

After I graduated I discovered a community of artists on the social bookmarking site del.icio.us. It really felt that an incredible artistic dialogue was taking place informally: a new vernacular was being formed online. There was so much energy to it. The dialogue was so exciting, mixing humour and irony, critique and celebration. Del.icio.us was the platform on which I really started working with the Internet. At this point Facebook and Tumblr have pretty much replaced it.

I had known about early net art but I was never attracted to its glitchy aesthetic. So when I discovered this community I felt like I had found what I had been searching for all through art school. Del.icio.us led me to various different collectives like Paintfx. That is the period when I started my Google Street View project.

The project started out as PDF books. And then I started to print out the images just like photographs. I experimented with the printing for a while and eventually decided to print the images as large format C-prints. In 2009 the art blog Art Fag City asked me to write an essay, and that was when the project really took off, but I already had a huge archive of material by that stage. The 9-eyes tumblr blog came directly out of that. I had already been working with Google Street View (GSV) for one or two years when I created 9-eyes.

What was your process to find the locations and images that you used?

At first it was just long, arduous surf sessions. I went to places I wanted to visit, mainly in America (GSV had not been launched in many countries at the time), but not in a systematic way. As the project grew, I learned certain tricks. For example the best place to go for images is to check where the Google cars are and to follow those. Otherwise, Google may have removed any ‘anomalies’, which often make the most interesting images.

Once the project went viral I started getting tons of submissions from people. Some of these I used directly and some would act as a departure point to search for images.

What were you looking for specifically?

I was working a bit like a street photographer: keeping an open mind and responding to my intuition. The process was really about editing down. The entire project is a process of subtraction: since everything has already been captured on GSV, it is about editing down until you find the core, essential moments. I think it could be considered as a major editing project.

Are there any online GSV communities or forums that you use to find images?

There is a forum for pretty much anything you can think of. There is a forum where people only collect images of prostitutes, some of which I used in 9-eyes. I don’t like fetishizing labour. I don’t want to play up the amount of time I spend finding these images. This can become a kind of artistic crutch. The greatest works of art for me can be a single gesture that took very little time at all.

Even though this project is inherently time consuming, I don’t want that to be its central focus. It could easily have become an endurance piece, a kind of artistic marathon. If I had an algorithm to find all these amazing images, I think I would be equally as happy.

Take Duchamp’s ready-mades: they changed art. If everything can be art, then what is art? I see that as the healthiest state for art to be in: questioning its very nature.

How conscious were you of specific street photographers’ styles when taking these images?

I was very aware of photographic history when working on this project. I really believe that photography was the medium of the twentieth century, because of the ambiguity surrounding the question of whether it was or was not art, due to photography’s mechanical nature. I saw GSV in some way as the ultimate conclusion of the medium of photography: the world being constantly photographed from every perspective all the time. As if photography had become an indifferent, neutral god observing the world.

The perception of reality associated with photography is very modern. In the past, representations in the form of images were always imbued with a certain magical quality. The photograph shows a world that is empty of that. It is just a reflection of the surface of things. In that way the photograph is the perfect embodiment of our perception of the modern world. More than specific photographic history, I was thinking of photography from a philosophical point of view.

Most of your work deals with digital media of some kind. Do you consider yourself to be a digital artist?

For a while the term “Internet-aware” was used in relation to artists working with the Internet. Nobody was happy with the term, or with “net artists” which felt too ghettoising. In the same way, many people do not feel comfortable with the term “new media artist”, because it implies a kind of fetishisation of new technology.

I would prefer to be recognised simply as an artist. Unless you are very specific to a medium, which I’m not, I don’t think it is necessary to add these labels. I’m fine with championing net art, but I don’t want to be wedded to it forever.

Take Elad Lassry for example. He is one of the most successful young photographers that I know, and in some way I think that is because he doesn’t position his work as photography but as art. I have a lot of respect for those ‘purists’ that are attached to the formal qualities of their medium, but I don’t want to be associated too closely with a particular medium as I’m interested in exploring many different approaches.

There are other artists, including Michael Wolf and Doug Rickard, who have worked with Google Street View. Do you see GSV as a territory where there is only room for one or do you see it as a vast territory that more and more artists are likely to explore?

GSV is in the zeitgeist and it is a vast territory to explore. In a way I’m surprised that there haven’t been more artists working with it. We all have different methods of working. For example, Michael Wolf photographs the screen to make his images, whereas I think that Doug Rickard removes all traces of Google from the images: the symbols, the Google copyright. My process is more akin to the ready-made.

You have also referred to the flâneur in relation to your work. How does this term that is generally associated with nineteenth century art in Paris relate to your practice?

I’m very interested in the notion of the flâneur. The lack of history in this new post-internet age is making it harder to have a sense of self. The Internet has already become so ubiquitous, that it is now a banal part of our reality.

In Internet years things are forgotten so quickly. The importance of history in building a sense of self is one of the main themes running through my work. Many of my projects focus on very marginal sub-cultures such as gaming (ed. Codes of Honor, for example). They feel the lack of a sense of self acutely because their culture can die out any day. The game is everything to them but from one the day to the next the culture of that game becomes obsolete.

The reason I tie in the flâneur is because I want to find the connection between the cyberflâneur and the flâneur of the Parisian arcades of the late nineteenth century. On one level the comparison is absurd, but on another level it is very apt. In the same way that Internet cultures die off, so did the arcades of Paris.

People talk about how the Internet age is so new, and the idea that technology has changed everything. I think it is very important to see that many of these things existed in different forms in the past. For instance, the information overload that is thought of as defining the Internet era dates back to early modern times and the emergence of the modern city.

The NYTimes recently published an article by Evgeny Morosov about the death of the cyberflâneur. Morosov makes the point that in the age of social media, web surfing is essentially over, that the information we get from the Internet is essentially pre-digested. Do you agree with that view?

People often ask me what the future is going to look like… I’m not really sure why… maybe simply because I work with new technologies.

In the past we relied on dystopian and utopian views of the future. The future was thought of as fundamentally different from the present. Today, there is a sense that the future is going to be a lot more banal, that we are already living in the future (like with the phone that you are recording this conversation with), that the future is going to be more of the same… more apps and technologies that are designed to mediate and ‘improve’ our experience of reality. It is essentially a more Facebook-like future. This is very different from the early Internet, which was more like an exploration of a vast unknown territory.

 

Note: Jon Rafman’s latest exhibition, MMXII BNPJ, opens at American Medium in New York on May 5.

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Interview: Jon Rafman, The lack of history in the post-Internet age

 

Jon Rafman is a Canadian artist and filmmaker based in Montreal. He recently gave a talk about his work entitled “In Search of the Virtual Sublime” at the Gaité Lyrique, a new space devoted to digital culture in Paris. I met up with Jon in a café near the Jardin du Luxembourg to discuss Google Street View, street photography, the cyberflâneur and what the future looks like.

How did you start working in the digital space?

After I graduated I discovered a community of artists on the social bookmarking site del.icio.us. It really felt that an incredible artistic dialogue was taking place informally: a new vernacular was being formed online. There was so much energy to it. The dialogue was so exciting, mixing humour and irony, critique and celebration. Del.icio.us was the platform on which I really started working with the Internet. At this point Facebook and Tumblr have pretty much replaced it.

I had known about early net art but I was never attracted to its glitchy aesthetic. So when I discovered this community I felt like I had found what I had been searching for all through art school. Del.icio.us led me to various different collectives like Paintfx. That is the period when I started my Google Street View project.

The project started out as PDF books. And then I started to print out the images just like photographs. I experimented with the printing for a while and eventually decided to print the images as large format C-prints. In 2009 the art blog Art Fag City asked me to write an essay, and that was when the project really took off, but I already had a huge archive of material by that stage. The 9-eyes tumblr blog came directly out of that. I had already been working with Google Street View (GSV) for one or two years when I created 9-eyes.

What was your process to find the locations and images that you used?

At first it was just long, arduous surf sessions. I went to places I wanted to visit, mainly in America (GSV had not been launched in many countries at the time), but not in a systematic way. As the project grew, I learned certain tricks. For example the best place to go for images is to check where the Google cars are and to follow those. Otherwise, Google may have removed any ‘anomalies’, which often make the most interesting images.

Once the project went viral I started getting tons of submissions from people. Some of these I used directly and some would act as a departure point to search for images.

What were you looking for specifically?

I was working a bit like a street photographer: keeping an open mind and responding to my intuition. The process was really about editing down. The entire project is a process of subtraction: since everything has already been captured on GSV, it is about editing down until you find the core, essential moments. I think it could be considered as a major editing project.

Are there any online GSV communities or forums that you use to find images?

There is a forum for pretty much anything you can think of. There is a forum where people only collect images of prostitutes, some of which I used in 9-eyes. I don’t like fetishizing labour. I don’t want to play up the amount of time I spend finding these images. This can become a kind of artistic crutch. The greatest works of art for me can be a single gesture that took very little time at all.

Even though this project is inherently time consuming, I don’t want that to be its central focus. It could easily have become an endurance piece, a kind of artistic marathon. If I had an algorithm to find all these amazing images, I think I would be equally as happy.

Take Duchamp’s ready-mades: they changed art. If everything can be art, then what is art? I see that as the healthiest state for art to be in: questioning its very nature.

How conscious were you of specific street photographers’ styles when taking these images?

I was very aware of photographic history when working on this project. I really believe that photography was the medium of the twentieth century, because of the ambiguity surrounding the question of whether it was or was not art, due to photography’s mechanical nature. I saw GSV in some way as the ultimate conclusion of the medium of photography: the world being constantly photographed from every perspective all the time. As if photography had become an indifferent, neutral god observing the world.

The perception of reality associated with photography is very modern. In the past, representations in the form of images were always imbued with a certain magical quality. The photograph shows a world that is empty of that. It is just a reflection of the surface of things. In that way the photograph is the perfect embodiment of our perception of the modern world. More than specific photographic history, I was thinking of photography from a philosophical point of view.

Most of your work deals with digital media of some kind. Do you consider yourself to be a digital artist?

For a while the term “Internet-aware” was used in relation to artists working with the Internet. Nobody was happy with the term, or with “net artists” which felt too ghettoising. In the same way, many people do not feel comfortable with the term “new media artist”, because it implies a kind of fetishisation of new technology.

I would prefer to be recognised simply as an artist. Unless you are very specific to a medium, which I’m not, I don’t think it is necessary to add these labels. I’m fine with championing net art, but I don’t want to be wedded to it forever.

Take Elad Lassry for example. He is one of the most successful young photographers that I know, and in some way I think that is because he doesn’t position his work as photography but as art. I have a lot of respect for those ‘purists’ that are attached to the formal qualities of their medium, but I don’t want to be associated too closely with a particular medium as I’m interested in exploring many different approaches.

There are other artists, including Michael Wolf and Doug Rickard, who have worked with Google Street View. Do you see GSV as a territory where there is only room for one or do you see it as a vast territory that more and more artists are likely to explore?

GSV is in the zeitgeist and it is a vast territory to explore. In a way I’m surprised that there haven’t been more artists working with it. We all have different methods of working. For example, Michael Wolf photographs the screen to make his images, whereas I think that Doug Rickard removes all traces of Google from the images: the symbols, the Google copyright. My process is more akin to the ready-made.

You have also referred to the flâneur in relation to your work. How does this term that is generally associated with nineteenth century art in Paris relate to your practice?

I’m very interested in the notion of the flâneur. The lack of history in this new post-internet age is making it harder to have a sense of self. The Internet has already become so ubiquitous, that it is now a banal part of our reality.

In Internet years things are forgotten so quickly. The importance of history in building a sense of self is one of the main themes running through my work. Many of my projects focus on very marginal sub-cultures such as gaming (ed. Codes of Honor, for example). They feel the lack of a sense of self acutely because their culture can die out any day. The game is everything to them but from one the day to the next the culture of that game becomes obsolete.

The reason I tie in the flâneur is because I want to find the connection between the cyberflâneur and the flâneur of the Parisian arcades of the late nineteenth century. On one level the comparison is absurd, but on another level it is very apt. In the same way that Internet cultures die off, so did the arcades of Paris.

People talk about how the Internet age is so new, and the idea that technology has changed everything. I think it is very important to see that many of these things existed in different forms in the past. For instance, the information overload that is thought of as defining the Internet era dates back to early modern times and the emergence of the modern city.

The NYTimes recently published an article by Evgeny Morosov about the death of the cyberflâneur. Morosov makes the point that in the age of social media, web surfing is essentially over, that the information we get from the Internet is essentially pre-digested. Do you agree with that view?

People often ask me what the future is going to look like… I’m not really sure why… maybe simply because I work with new technologies.

In the past we relied on dystopian and utopian views of the future. The future was thought of as fundamentally different from the present. Today, there is a sense that the future is going to be a lot more banal, that we are already living in the future (like with the phone that you are recording this conversation with), that the future is going to be more of the same… more apps and technologies that are designed to mediate and ‘improve’ our experience of reality. It is essentially a more Facebook-like future. This is very different from the early Internet, which was more like an exploration of a vast unknown territory.

 

Note: Jon Rafman’s latest exhibition, MMXII BNPJ, opens at American Medium in New York on May 5.

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Rineke Dijkstra Makes the Awkward Sublime

Even before everybody had a digital camera, it was a universal modern skill to take photographs. But more than that, for a long time it’s been a universal skill to be photographed. For several decades now, everybody has known how to put on his or her game face and wait for the click. Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra has become famous by taking that as her point of departure, then wondering what happens when we can’t hold the pose. The answer: a moment of truth. One thing you learn at the new Dijkstra retrospective, currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and moving in June to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, is that no matter how much you try to put on the social mask, it keeps slipping.

After graduating from an Amsterdam art school in 1986, Dijkstra, who is 52, made a living for a while shooting portraits for a Dutch business magazine. It was frustrating work, taking pictures of executives who knew all too well how to keep up their guard. Eventually, she returned to more personal picture-taking. Very quickly, Dijkstra found an international audience. For her breakthrough project in the early ’90s, she persuaded teenagers at beaches in the U.S. and Europe to pose against a bare backdrop of sky, sea and shore. The fascination of those pictures comes partly from the mind’s attempt to reconcile the “timeless” setting with the sometimes awkward, and often futile, attempts by the teens to assume the attitudes of glamor and cool they think the camera requires.

Hoping to catch people with their defenses down, Dijkstra started to photograph them in the aftermath of some exhausting event. She got women to pose soon after giving birth, usually standing naked while they cradled their newborns. By 1994 she was also making portraits of Portuguese forcados—amateur bullfighters who enter the ring in unarmed groups to subdue the bulls bare-handed. She photographed them right after they returned from the fight, bloody, scuffed and dented.

To watch someone evolve from youth into adult awareness, Dijkstra has sometimes followed a single subject for years—a French boy who joins the foreign legion, a Bosnian refugee girl as she grows up in the Netherlands—as his or her life goes through changes. Or, as she did with the kids on beaches, she will go to parks and photograph very contemporary people in a setting that pulls them out of time—but only so far. And to make sure her pictures don’t take on a false timelessness, Dijkstra makes sure each one carries in its title the very real location in which it was taken and the date.

Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective is on display from Feb. 18 through May 28 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City on June 29.

Photographer #428: Eric T. White

Eric T. White, 1982, USA, is a photographer based in New York City. When he started art school he did not have a clear idea what he should study. When Eric’s uncle died he inherited all of his cameras. This lead him to professionally persue a career in photography. He spent four years learning from photographer Christopher Griffith’s technical expertise as his first assistant. His primary focus lies on portraiture and landscape photography. He describes his work as being “about capturing fleeting moments… specific moods and feelings.” For his series National Defense, which consists of two chapters, he documented a fake arabic town in California and the border between the US and Mexico. Currently he is simultaneously working on a portrait series based on the Lower East Side, a black and white landscape series and his first book. The following images come from the series Least Likely To, Lake Harmony and National Defense.

Website: www.mrwhite.cowww.whiteblackwhite.com

Photographer #424: RES

Raúl Eduardo Stolkiner, better known as RES, 1957, Argentina, is a conceptual and fine-art photographer based in Buenos Aires. He studied photography at the Spilimbergo Art School and at Casa del Lago, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. His series Conatus was produced in collaboration with Constanza Piaggio. The photographs are recreations of iconic paintings by artists as da Vinci and Picasso. The images are not exact copies, RES made alterations to the original works that reinterpret and recontextualize the subject through contemporary perspectives on philosophy, politics and spirituality. One of his first bodies of work, Donde están e imanes, was the result of his return to Argentina after he had been exiled in 1978 to Mexico. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions worldwide and has been published in a vast amount of publications. In the past nine years he also released his work in four different monographs. The following images come from the series Conatus, Plantas Vestidas and Donde están e imanes.


Website: www.resh.com.ar

Lewis Baltz: Works



Have you ever had a night of pure gluttony? Ever sat down, watching for instance the playoffs for the World Series – seeing both your hometown and adopted town lose – on your lap is a half gallon of ice cream and in your right hand, a spoon. You keep making a mental note that you shouldn’t have anymore because the carton is three quarters empty and the edge of your spoon-hand is practically a plaster cast of sugar. Yet you take another spoonful and press the substance to the roof of your mouth making those little half swallows like a baby suckling a breast. While savoring the flavor, the coolness or the slight grit to the ice on our tongue, your hand automatically motions downward for another shovel full. You feel slightly disgusted with yourself. That is how I felt as I kept methodically turning pages of every book in my first choice for Book(s) of the Year – the Lewis Baltz: Works box set from Steidl. I couldn’t stop. Just one more picture. Then another, and another, and another, as if the books would disappear off my shelf the following morning.

It probably comes as no surprise that I have been a fan of Lewis Baltz since art school and have sought out his books over the years. I saw him speak once in the late 90s where he recounted a story about showing John Szarkowski of the Museum of Modern Art his New Industrial Parks photographs. While looking at the photos John had made three piles of pictures – when he was finished he showed Lewis the prints the museum would want to purchase. Lewis said he was a bit offended and said they would have to buy all of the set or none – it wasn’t divisible.

I shyly asked Lewis about this after the lecture because I didn’t understand why he was so offended about John choosing images. I asked “isn’t that a curator’s job to chose images etc.” Baltz responded with a few elegantly worded sentences, 50% of which I couldn’t understand because of my stunted vocabulary but what I did comprehend without a dictionary was the idea that dividing up the work could contextualize it differently than if it were kept together. Would a painter cut a canvas if the curator only wanted a section? (Ray Johnson would but who else?). Baltz asked if we could continue the conversation outside so he could smoke but I took the opportunity to slink back into the crowd and disappear being that, although he was extremely nice (Michael Schmidt once described him “with oriental politeness”), I felt completely intimidated by him.

I think I partly respond so strongly to Baltz and Robert Adams and maybe to a lesser extent, Gossage, because the describe landscapes that seem so familiar because I grew up in Arizona where construction/expansion and destruction are linked. Where ideas of money outweigh all common sense. I would ride my bike through entire neighborhoods with paved roads and cul-de-sacs but no homes to be seen – the investors pulled out just before any foundations were laid.

The dividing line between nature and suburb was defined by where paved roads bled into dirt and the no-mans-land strip where people would drag their refuse into the desert for illegal dumping. To come across a sun-blistered washing machine miles from the nearest home in the desert feels like stumbling across a crime scene – violence sensed in the shimmering heat off its surface.

Three books of this ten volume set were released a few years ago through the Whitney Museum and RAM – The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California, The Prototype Works, and The Tract Houses. This set includes; Park City, Nevada, Maryland, San Quentin Point, Sites of Technology, Near Reno and Continuous Fire Polar Circle. The only large body of work that is missing is Candlestick Point which I assume was excluded because it is Baltz’s only book which is not in a square format.

In comparing some of my older first editions to these some differences can be seen. Firstly, the printing always looked good to my eye with Baltz’s books but compared to these new Steidl printings, the plates are more open and yet retain their richness revealing more detail. In Park City, Baltz has moved the captions opposite the images much like in his New Industrial Parks book rather than as a list before the plates start. He also replaced the Gus Blaisdell essay – in the original edition, a “Foreword” which appears afterward – with a newer essay by Hubertus van Amelunxen. Maryland, which was released originally as a booklet from the Corcoran Gallery of Art as a part of the 1976 exhibition The Nation’s Capital in Photographs, shows all of the images from the exhibition in their correct order since the catalogue, for whatever reason, is sequenced out of order. Nevada, a 1978 Castelli gallery catalogue I never owned so I cannot compare but this version contains 15 images and I imagine is the same.

All follow the same design and size, all are covered in cloth the color of freshly poured concrete. It was printed in 1100 copies all of which are signed and numbered. I had heard this will be a quick sell out so I hope some of you that can afford the price can still manage to get a set.

Lewis Baltz: Works



Have you ever had a night of pure gluttony? Ever sat down, watching for instance the playoffs for the World Series – seeing both your hometown and adopted town lose – on your lap is a half gallon of ice cream and in your right hand, a spoon. You keep making a mental note that you shouldn’t have anymore because the carton is three quarters empty and the edge of your spoon-hand is practically a plaster cast of sugar. Yet you take another spoonful and press the substance to the roof of your mouth making those little half swallows like a baby suckling a breast. While savoring the flavor, the coolness or the slight grit to the ice on our tongue, your hand automatically motions downward for another shovel full. You feel slightly disgusted with yourself. That is how I felt as I kept methodically turning pages of every book in my first choice for Book(s) of the Year – the Lewis Baltz: Works box set from Steidl. I couldn’t stop. Just one more picture. Then another, and another, and another, as if the books would disappear off my shelf the following morning.

It probably comes as no surprise that I have been a fan of Lewis Baltz since art school and have sought out his books over the years. I saw him speak once in the late 90s where he recounted a story about showing John Szarkowski of the Museum of Modern Art his New Industrial Parks photographs. While looking at the photos John had made three piles of pictures – when he was finished he showed Lewis the prints the museum would want to purchase. Lewis said he was a bit offended and said they would have to buy all of the set or none – it wasn’t divisible.

I shyly asked Lewis about this after the lecture because I didn’t understand why he was so offended about John choosing images. I asked “isn’t that a curator’s job to chose images etc.” Baltz responded with a few elegantly worded sentences, 50% of which I couldn’t understand because of my stunted vocabulary but what I did comprehend without a dictionary was the idea that dividing up the work could contextualize it differently than if it were kept together. Would a painter cut a canvas if the curator only wanted a section? (Ray Johnson would but who else?). Baltz asked if we could continue the conversation outside so he could smoke but I took the opportunity to slink back into the crowd and disappear being that, although he was extremely nice (Michael Schmidt once described him “with oriental politeness”), I felt completely intimidated by him.

I think I partly respond so strongly to Baltz and Robert Adams and maybe to a lesser extent, Gossage, because the describe landscapes that seem so familiar because I grew up in Arizona where construction/expansion and destruction are linked. Where ideas of money outweigh all common sense. I would ride my bike through entire neighborhoods with paved roads and cul-de-sacs but no homes to be seen – the investors pulled out just before any foundations were laid.

The dividing line between nature and suburb was defined by where paved roads bled into dirt and the no-mans-land strip where people would drag their refuse into the desert for illegal dumping. To come across a sun-blistered washing machine miles from the nearest home in the desert feels like stumbling across a crime scene – violence sensed in the shimmering heat off its surface.

Three books of this ten volume set were released a few years ago through the Whitney Museum and RAM – The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California, The Prototype Works, and The Tract Houses. This set includes; Park City, Nevada, Maryland, San Quentin Point, Sites of Technology, Near Reno and Continuous Fire Polar Circle. The only large body of work that is missing is Candlestick Point which I assume was excluded because it is Baltz’s only book which is not in a square format.

In comparing some of my older first editions to these some differences can be seen. Firstly, the printing always looked good to my eye with Baltz’s books but compared to these new Steidl printings, the plates are more open and yet retain their richness revealing more detail. In Park City, Baltz has moved the captions opposite the images much like in his New Industrial Parks book rather than as a list before the plates start. He also replaced the Gus Blaisdell essay – in the original edition, a “Foreword” which appears afterward – with a newer essay by Hubertus van Amelunxen. Maryland, which was released originally as a booklet from the Corcoran Gallery of Art as a part of the 1976 exhibition The Nation’s Capital in Photographs, shows all of the images from the exhibition in their correct order since the catalogue, for whatever reason, is sequenced out of order. Nevada, a 1978 Castelli gallery catalogue I never owned so I cannot compare but this version contains 15 images and I imagine is the same.

All follow the same design and size, all are covered in cloth the color of freshly poured concrete. It was printed in 1100 copies all of which are signed and numbered. I had heard this will be a quick sell out so I hope some of you that can afford the price can still manage to get a set.