Re: the color of autochromes
Will have to go back and read your review. I do think the book is really a
"must-have" because his articles are well written and center on the topic of
alt. Plus it is so cheap at used bookstores.
I consider Impressionist Camera another must-have.
I love the fact he writes this long chapter on cyanotype and delves into the
color blue. I think I will have students read it before my first cyanotype
He also had something "controversial" (ie, wrong) to say about John
Dugdale. I reviewed "The Photographic Arts" in Post-Factory #1 (April
1998), and did praise the book enthusiastically for one and 1/3 pages (a
lot, considering that the Issue had only 48 pages total), but in 3rd
paragraph from the end, I admitted being forced to "question Wood's
judgment in contemporary esthetics ... when he takes a swipe at another
cyanotypist, John Dugdale, as not having a proper '20th century vision.'
Here I disagee, and not just because Dugdale is my friend and neighbor."
"Vision of one's time" I pointed out,"is an elusive, invisible quality, as
fraught, treacherous and subjective as any in art crit. I shall address
the point, a serious one for artists, especially those using 'obsolete'
media or equipment, at greater length in future. But for now, whether you
share Wood's enthusiasms to the hilt or only so far is irrelevant. What is
relevant is his excellent discussion of important issues, not just made
visible, but articulated, considered and expanded...." etc. etc. etc.
Even more interesting than my brilliant critique, however, was the sequel.
It seems someone who had that issue of Post-Factory also knew this John
Wood (there's also another John Wood in photoland, if memory serves) and
sent him my review. Thereupon, it seems, Wood had an epiphany, and,
reconsidering what "vision of our time" might mean, decided Dugdale's
vision was indeed so valid, timely and beautiful that he gave him a
chapter in his next major album (titled something like "Next" -- I have a
copy over by the window but it's too hot to go over and look for it), in
which he gracefully thanked "critic Judy Seigel" (whoever she is) for her
commentary on "vision of our time" while showing a lovely selection of
John's work, beautifully reproduced.
PS. Chris, what's the title of Mortensen's "$12,000 book on pictorial
photography?" That's not "Monsters and Madonnas," I take it.. but I don't
at this moment recall another fitting that description ????????????
What I really appreciated from this book was the description of the
allure of the autochrome, because I think it applies to gum, too.
"...the primary reason that people are so drawn to the autochrome's color
is its idyllic light, a lying light which gives the world a softness, a
near shimmering, it has never known,"and that we respond to autochromes
because they "are the color of dreams...and are unlike the real world
which was always harsher than they would suggest it was."
I didn't use some of the parentheses he did because he was actually
quoting himself in this passage, but the idea is there to chew on,
I really respond to his essays and wonder if he is on the list, still
around, anyone know him, etc.? He taught at McNeese State University at
this time, and has written a number of books on old processes.
I also got an old book by Wm Mortensen on abrasion tone! Alas, it wasn't
his $12,000 book on Pictorial Photography.