Thursday, 19 November 2020

Let's Get Illuminated

One of my Covid-year "lockdown" activities has been playing around with what started out as a "postcards" project, loosely modelled on Luigi Ghirri's Kodachrome, and eventually became a Blurb book, Let's Get Lost, a series of mainly topographic photographs extracted from my backfiles, arranged into pairs, and – following a quotation from Rilke [1] – sequenced around six simple, "liveable" questions ("Where On Earth Am I?", "How Did I Get Here?", "Are We Lost Yet?", etc.). I've reported periodically on the progress of this absorbing project, and it's been enlightening (for me, anyway) to look back on the blog-trail [2], from the first glimmerings of an idea in April to the finished book in August, followed by a calendar for 2021, and now the launch of a new version, Let's Get Lost: an Illuminated Selection.

This new item is a selection of twenty-six page-spreads from the original, complete book, which was a relatively plain 116 pages. For this smaller selection, I embedded each pair of facing photographs into a single unifying "illuminated" two-page frame, an approach that suggested itself when creating the twelve images for my 2021 calendar. The pages are presented in the order that they are found in the complete, sequenced book, but without the schematic framework of the six questions. I decided to use Blurb's "premium magazine" format, which is both larger than their standard photo-book and considerably cheaper.

I must admit I'm very pleased with it. So much so that – even though I don't anticipate selling more than a handful of copies – I've slightly madly assigned it one of the remaining ISBNs from my long-dormant Shepherd's Crown self-publishing imprint, and given it the official publication treatment i.e. sent a copy to the British Library's Legal Deposit Office, but in the hope that the other five copyright libraries won't be asking for copies, too. If nothing else, this means that at least one copy will go bobbing along into the future in the massive flood of published material. If you're interested, here is a full preview:
A copy will cost you £14.99 via Blurb (plus their charge for p&p). I've also made a PDF version on CD, in a hand-crafted sleeve: if you'd like one for £5.50 (p&p free in UK, anywhere else add £2.50), email me (see "View My Complete Profile" at top right for an address).

So why not join me on this photographic dérive? Come on, let's get lost!

To put this modest venture of mine into perspective, if you cast your mind back to my Christmas book recommendations in 2017 you may remember one of them was A Group Photograph, by Andrew Tatham, a remarkable 20-year project in which he not only tracked down every man in a particular formal WW1 group photograph in his possession, but also their pre- and post-war lives and careers, and even found their descendants. Well, Andrew has now followed that up with I Shall Not Be Away Long: the First World War letters of Lt. Col. Charles Bartlett, an equally remarkable adventure in research, book design, and self-publication, and well worth your consideration if you have an interest in that period. You can read about it on Andrew's blog here, which contains some interesting reflections on the costs, pleasures, and perils of proper self-publication, publicity, and promotion. Personally, I'm going to stick to Blurb and "print on demand": the prospect of selling enough copies of either version of Let's Get Lost even to cover the cost of the five extra copyright-deposit copies, should they be requested – that would be twenty, I think – is laughable.

1. "You are so young, barely a novice, and I would like to urge you, so far as I can, dear Sir, to have patience towards everything that is unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms, like books written in a very foreign language. For now, don't look for answers which cannot be given to you because you can't yet have lived them. And the great thing is to live everything. For now live the questions. Perhaps then you will gradually – one far-off day, without even noticing it – live your way into the answer." (Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet).
2. The trail goes like this: April: PostcardsPostcards 2. May: Postcards 3Postcards 4Pages & Pages. June: Let's Get Lost. August: Let's Get Completely LostSpecial EditionSpecial Edition 2. September: Dummies. October: Calendar 2021Cover Story.

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