Applicant Trade with Blythe

I recently contacted Blythe through http://www.wemakezines.com and arranged to trade some of my zine’s for a copy of “Applicant” by Jesse Reklaw.  I sent her my the 4 zines I’ve recently completed, Branson Sucks, Fake Lomography, Fields and Rural Route Four.  I sent so many zines because Applicant is a very nice zine made by a professional publishing company but also I just wanted to send out all my zines.

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Blythe created a really cool envelope for Applicant printed with the Cincanatti skyline and with little stickers spelling out Applicant, in some ways I like the envelope better than the book.  She also included a couple postcards from Microcosom publishing, a sticker and hand written note.

So Applicant was a handmade zine that Jesse created when he found a bunch of old application files for students looking to earn Ph.D. in biology at an Ivy league university.  He pulled their photographs and unflattering quotes about them and constructed a small zine.

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It’s very funny, and very telling about the way that we are judged.  I was especially amused by the highbrow “doctoral” language used, like how often have you looked at someone and said, “There’s a real dillettante.”  I’m also a bit put off by the publishing of this work, these are real people, these are confidential files, and while no names are used and these people probably couldn’t even be recogonized from their photos I’m still find this zine a bit dubious.  I don’t think I would have published it, but I got a kick of out reading it, so I guess I can’t be too judgmental.

Thanks for the trade Blythe!

 

Tramp by Julius Smit

My goal is to purchase and review a new photobook or photozine every month.  The first that caught my attention was Julius Smit’s “Tramp.”  There were several things that drew me to Tramp.

  •  The cover had some eerie somewhat out of focus image with a nice composition.
  • The title Tramp really connected with me, I often feel like I tramp when I’m out on a solo photo walk.
  • The book and artist are both from England so there was some international flair there,
  • At. 2.69 cents the price was just right

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Honestly I’m surprised this book could be sold for 2.69 cents, it’s good quality paper, constructed well and I can’t image it costing much less then that to print.

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So Tramp’s theme is the paths that people walk, the landscape and sights that become so familiar that people don’t notice them.  It contains 25 images, two poems, and some introduction text.  I will not comment on the poetry as I am less than an expert, I’ll just say that the poetry didn’t really connect with me.

I will comment on the photographs.  Reviewing and judging an experimental art book is kind of a precarious thing.  Experimental is all about breaking out of the norms, and what not, still when I see a photograph that bothers me it doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t seem right.

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There are a few photos I find very compelling in this book, My favorite is a group of people walking to a seafront in a very dynamic composition.  I loved a two page spread with a poem and photograph of two fence spikes that complement each other.  There is a great image of the word “playing” that fits very well.  I also am very fond of an image of a stone wall that is very much impact.

 

On the other hand some of the photos in this book are just flat, they lack contrast, a hook, an interest.  I think part of the problem is the black and white conversion process.  I’ve looked at Julius’s photos online in color and found them better, but they often didn’t translate well to black and white.   I found some questionable composition choices in a few of the photos. as well but those are debatable.

 

I received this book on a day that my wife was undergoing an outpatient back procedure at the hospital.  I tried to absorb the work while sitting in a small waiting room with a TV wailing “Dog the Bounty Hunter” at volume that was beyond loud.  In short order I gave up and retreated to the main lobby where there was a level of civilization.  Perhaps “Dog” tainted this book for me.  Perhaps not.