le 8 janvier 2009
I loved the Worobiec's previous book `Ghosts in the wilderness: abandoned America' (ISBN 1904332080) and their latest title considers the American landscape in a slightly different way by looking at small town icons: diners, motels and movie theatres. These have always been favorites of photographers, all the way back to the Thirties with the Farm Security Administration.
The Worobiec's coverage is basically the mid-west, from the Canadian border to Texas and the five chapters each start with a pleasant graphic map and some text about the towns visited so the book, like Ghosts in the wilderness is a bit more than a photo book.
I thought the movie theatres came out best photographically. Their structure implies a straight forward composition and they are mostly visually flamboyant enough not to need to be shot with odd angles or colour gimmicks. There are several in the book that just look stunning. Oddly the interiors seem the opposite to me, the ten included look remarkable dull, just dozens of empty seats. The diners and motels provide a rich source of neon signage outside and in the case of diners chrome and Americana inside.
Wonderful though most of the photos were I was slightly disappointed with the book because of the paper. I wish it was a better quality because it would have given the photos the lift they deserved. As it is I thought so many of the images had a softness to them which a better stock would have reduced and many of the pages have a thick black border which also tends to reduce their colour impact. Compare the front cover with the same photo on page ninety, both use a 175 screen yet the cover is on better paper and probably has a coat of clear varnish to make it sparkle.
I was made aware of some of this when comparing Icons with Michael Eastman's Vanishing America (ISBN 9780847830404). Both books look at small towns but Eastman's photos printed on a matt art paper look quite stunning with their rich colours and sharpness.
The Worobiec's celebration of small town America doesn't quite come up to the quality of Ghosts in the wilderness though at the price you'll be able to find it online does make it a bit of a bargain. `