LITTLE BROWN MUSHROOM BLOG

Instax Reviews

Posted in Instax Reviews, Photobooks (general) by ethan on December 31, 2009


All The Days and Nights by Doug DuBois

The Known World by Anne Hall and Sophie Morner

Yuki Yuki by Dino Simonett

Pretend You’re Actually Alive by Leigh Ledare

Omizuao by Masao Yamamoto

How do these books make you feel?

Book of the Year: ‘Riley & His Story’ by Monica Haller

Posted in Photobooks (general), Videos by Alec Soth on December 28, 2009

Soon after posting my Top 10 list, I learned about Monica Haller’s book, Riley and his story. Me and my outrage. You and us.’ Published in November by Onestar press/Fälth & Hässler, the book consists of hundreds of photographs by Riley Sharbonno, an army nurse who served at Abu Ghraib prison from 2004-2005. But it’s Monica Haller’s stunning methodology for organizing these images that makes this the book of the year.

→With only a thousand copies in print (and most of them in Europe), I’d recommend purchasing this pronto before it sells out.

Since Monica happens to live in Minnesota, I quickly contacted her. She graciously agreed to an impromptu interview in my bunker library.

To see this video a little bit larger, go to the LBM A/V page.
For more information about Riley and His Story, go here.


Before the cave.

Posted in Flotsam by George Slade on December 27, 2009

Hey, Les. I’m gonna get a bit philosophical with you here, so hang on.

Just before Plato launches into his cave allegory in his Republic, he talks about divisions of the soul. Here’s a quote I found really interesting:

There are four such conditions in the soul, corresponding to the four subsections of our line: Understanding for the highest, thought for the second, belief for the third, and imaging for the last. Arrange them in a ratio, and consider that each shares in clarity to the degree that the subsection it is set over shares in truth.

Here’s how a kind person laid it out in a diagram, more tree- than line-like, with understanding=intellection, belief=trust/confidence, and imaging=imagination/conjecture:

too long in the cave

You may think I’ve been in the cave too long. Or I got some kind of fever from all the damn bugs that bit me while I was working in the south. You may be right; I’ve also got a bloody eyeball that I can’t explain. But I’m trying to break it all down and get my head in order for the new year. The direction of all these philosophical meanderings is toward the notion of “goodness” (see it, modestly lowercase, in its little box up top?) and an understanding of how images and imagination play a defining role in realizing the good. And what is a good image, really? Effective propaganda, or something eternal and true?

So sue me if I go astray.

Yrs,

The Plan

p.s. This book, in Alec’s list, about the hyper-collectors (momma called ’em packrats) and the people who come to bail them out? Maybe I should check in with that guy Schmelling, find out what he knows about it all…

Alec Soth’s Top 10 Photobooks of 2009

Posted in Photobooks (general) by Alec Soth on December 21, 2009


You and Me and the Art of Give and Take
by Allen Ruppersberg (Santa Monica Museum of Art)
Holy information overload. One of the coolest exhibition catalogues I’ve ever seen.


Greater Atlanta
by Mark Steinmetz (Nazraeli)
Steinmetz goes 3 for 3. Now I just wish Nazraeli would make a nice box to protect those sensitive white covers.


Schoo
l by Raimond Wouda (Nazraeli)
A Technicolor teenage riot.


The * As Error
by Shannon Ebner and Dexter Sinister (LA County Museum)
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
It’s all right


Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry
by Leanne Shapton (FSG)
Categorized as ‘Fiction/Graphic Novel’ by the publisher, this little book seems to have missed the photo universe entirely. But with hundreds of images by Jason Fulford and Michael Schmelling (who has his own entry on this list), this book should be categorized under ‘Narrative Photography.’


…all the days and nights by Doug Dubois (Aperture)
‘Narrative Photography’ at its finest.


The Plan
by Michael Schmelling (J&L)
If your home is getting cluttered, this book could change your life. But what if your home is getting cluttered with photo books?


Summer Nights, Walking
by Robert Adams (Aperture)
I used to be embarrassed that the 1985 edition was one of my favorite photobooks. The book was almost too sweet and the cover was an 80’s design nightmare. But there is nothing embarrassing about this reprint. Along with the incredible printing and understated cover, Adams has added some tougher pictures to the mix. Breathtaking.


Open See
by Jim Goldberg (Steidl)
Complex Goldbergian discourse on the subject of dislocation.


Protest Photographs
by Chauncey Hare (Steidl)
I haven’t had time to wrap my head around this tome, but it only takes a quick glance to know that this book is a killer.

→Looking for copies of these books? Visit the Photobook Link Page.

Link Bonanza

Posted in Photobooks (general) by LBM on December 20, 2009

A massive list of photobook & zine publishers and stores here.

Oh, and the usual blog roundup here.

Away.

Posted in Uncategorized by George Slade on December 19, 2009

Hey, Les.

I might be out of touch for a few days. Nothing personal. I’ve got some business to take care of down south. Kinda like Santa, but not nearly as many houses to break into to get the job done. Between the chimneys, I don’t know how much web access I’ll have. But I hope to find a way to weigh in now and then.

Be sure to see my last post, which was a response to your phallocentric-castrophobic Capon jumble. I’m not sure if this blog thing communicates about non-new posts.

Yrs, with seasoning.

Friday Filmstrip: Glass Jars by Alec Soth

Posted in LBM A/V by LBM on December 18, 2009

We are happy to announce the LBM A/V Department. After a week of books and mushrooms, it’s nice to turn down the lights, kick back, and watch a little slideshow.

Our first strip is Alec Soth’s Glass Jars:

You can also see this film a little bit larger at our LBM A/V host.

Caponizer?

Posted in Flotsam by lesterbmorrison on December 17, 2009

Dear O. Gelder,

I think this fear and disgust comes from the fact that mushrooms are so clearly alive but, as you say, feed on death. As Martha Nussbaum said in last Sunday’s NYTimes Magazine, “The common property of all these primary disgust objects is that they are reminders of our animality and mortality.”

Look at the names in these mushroom diagrams: Volva, Annulus, Flesh, Spines, Warts…mushrooms remind us of our own bodies.

Mostly, of course, mushrooms are phallic. We fear and disgust them in the same way we do a horse’s penis. Speaking of which, I’m a little worried that your last name refers to someone who performs animal castration.

What exactly are you doing over at Gelder Head Productions?

Sincerely,

ps. I didn’t know Mr. Sultan. I only have two friends.

Fun guy.

Posted in Flotsam by George Slade on December 17, 2009

edible?

Hey, Lester.

Did you like mushrooms when you were growing up? To me, they were like, the essence of fear food (not to mention how creepy they were, squishing underfoot and popping up in the lawn after rains). Kept me at the table way after everyone else finished their dinners. Almost as hard to choke down as liver, even hidden in mashed potatoes. Kind of uncanny, really.

They are still eerie. And deathly. Often little and brown. Something edible you better not eat unless you know your fungi. I mean, it grows from death, and decay. No photosynthesis. But they grow in some of the most beautiful places in the forest, and the best ones taste like meat and peat.

I sometimes say that I feel like a mushroom, kept in the dark and fed bullshit.

Speaking of death, I wish I’d known this guy Sultan. Sounds like a fascinating person; I like what I saw of his pics. Maybe he was fun. (Get it? “Fun guy”? haha)

Yrs truly,

Glad to be here.

Posted in Flotsam by George Slade on December 16, 2009

Thanks, Lester, for opening the door for me to write in your space.

Or were you showing me the way out?

By the way, did you know that a door can be a jar? I know your friend Alec is interested in jars.

I’ve been thinking about mushrooms. I’ll share those with you in a while.

Larry Sultan, Pictures From Home

Posted in Photobooks (general) by Alec Soth on December 16, 2009

Like so many others, I was heartbroken to learn of the death of Larry Sultan. (Read obits here, here, here, here). I met Larry in 2004. He and I were showing concurrently at the Stephen Wirtz Gallery.  I was totally green and nervous as hell to be meeting one of my photographic heroes. But Larry didn’t disappoint. He was gentle, generous and real.

I ran into Larry a couple of other times over the years. In Munich we were in a group show together. We cracked jokes during a long press conference in which neither of us understood a word being said. We also talked about photography. Larry was incredibly smart about the medium. I’ve always said that there is nobody whom I’d rather have had the chance to study under.

In the wake of his passing I reread Pictures From Home. Unbelievable. Has there ever been a photographer who writes better than Sultan? I’m certain that nobody has done a better job combining text and pictures. In this regard, Pictures From Home is the absolute zenith.  Plainspoken, smart and brutally honest, it is a masterpiece of narrative photography.

A spread in Chapter Five shows this picture of Sultan’s father:

This is the text:

“I’m married and have two kids, own a house, shop in the malls, read the business section of the newspaper, take my shirts to the laundry, catch myself continually calculating my savings, and worry about dying from various terminal illnesses. Was it that different when he was forty-four? Did he feel the same intensity of doubt and confusion as I do? Was he haunted by all of the things he was unable to be?”

At the end of Chapter Six we get his father’s take on the picture:

“I don’t mean to sound so critical. I’m just trying to understand what you see in certain pictures. Like that one you took last time you were here. I can’t figure out why you asked me to dress up in a suit, write on a piece of backdrop paper as though I was giving lecture and then photograph me standing there with a pen in my hand looking confused, like I didn’t know what I was talking about? I didn’t even spell that word correctly: “it’s empathize,” not “empathy,” a verb rather than a noun.

And then Larry goes on to transcribe his conversation with his father about the picture.

Larry Sultan: That’s what I like about the picture. I thought that the error is an important detail, one that reveals a basic human quality. Do you think it diminishes you, makes you seem foolish?

Irving Sultan: I wouldn’t go that far. But that’s not the way I would have set it up. My image of someone giving a lecture is to have them project confidence and knowledge. In your picture, I look frightened by the very point I’m trying to make.

Larry Sultan: Exactly. That particular picture was inspired by the Dale Carnegie course, and by all the lectures you gave me when I was a kid. I can’t name it, but some emotion has seeped into the self that you wanted to project and caused a disturbance. I didn’t notice it when I was taking the picture, but when I saw the print, I was reminded of something you once told me, that your success and efforts have been primarily motivated by fear. Maybe there’s a little of that in the photograph. It’s like a tear in the image that shows both who you think you should be and who you are.

I was twenty-two when Pictures From Home was published. Now I’m forty (and have two kids, own a house and shop at the mall). Time marches on. Thinking about all of this and thinking about Larry, I look at the one picture I have of him. It is from Mike Mandel’s series of photographer baseball cards. Here’s Larry looking like an angel at age 29 (note the back of his card, which hauntingly echoes his father’s comments about fear):

The thing about Pictures From Home is that it is fearless. Or more accurately, Sultan faces his fears with fearlessness. From what I’ve heard, he faced his death with a similar spirit. He also left with a beautiful piece of writing. In a letter to friends, he wrote:

“After hellish days and nights in hospitals, I have chosen not to be medicalized, but, instead, be here at home. Here in this house with my family, full of sleeping kids and wrestling dogs, and French toast cooking while next door in my studio, Dru is laying out a box of prints to edit. This is where I want to be. I realize whatever grace I’m ultimately leaving with is directly linked to my deep understanding that I have led a charmed life. So many charms, and the more there are, the easier it is to let go – at least today while I write this.”

The Shipping Begins

Posted in LBM Books by charlie b. ward on December 15, 2009

The first round of zines are about to go out into the world. We hope you are as excited as we are!

First Zine: Lost Boy Mountain

Posted in LBM Books by Alec Soth on December 14, 2009

Not only is Lost Boy Mountain our first zine, it is Lester B. Morrison’s first publication. Combining collage and Haiku, Lester’s book presents a fantasy of escape…for only $8.75.

See more images here.

Thrilled to have Lester on the LBM Team. You can buy the book at Little Brown Mushroom Books.

The Future of the Photobook

Posted in Photobooks (general) by Alec Soth on December 13, 2009

Miki Johnson has initiated a crowd sourced blog post over at LiveBooks. The topic of the discussion is the future of photobooks. Coincidentally, I’ve just launched the blog for my little DIY publishing venture, Little Brown Mushroom. Needless to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about books lately, so I figure I might as well throw in my two cents.

What do you think photobooks will look like in 10 years?

While most print media is dying, the photobook is going through a renaissance. I can only hope the vibrancy and appreciation of this medium will increase. If we’re lucky, maybe by 2020 The New York Times Book Review will give photobooks the same attention they give, say, graphic novels.

Will they be digital or physical?

They’ll be physical in my house. But then I’m getting old.

Open-source or proprietary?

Um, really old.

Will they be read on a Kindle or an iPhone?

I suppose, whatever. But there will also be physical books. All I care about is physical books. When I’m not making them, I’m buying them. I have zero interest in making or buying a digital book. That said, I am truly excited about the potential of new media for photographers. I’m currently experimenting with online audio slideshows and the like. But I see this as a new medium, not a book. For me, a book is a physical object.

And what aesthetic innovations will have transformed them?

Part of the photobook renaissance has to do with the increased ease of DIY printing and distribution. Just as musicians no longer require professional studios to cut an album, photographers have the ability to make their own books. Lately I’ve been dipping my toes in these waters. One of the things I’ve learned is that the options are really vast. New technology will only offer more options. But I should be clear that this doesn’t make publishers obsolete. Gerhard Steidl has devoted his life to learning the craft of bookmaking. I’ll never compete with that.

The books are here, the books are here!

Posted in LBM Books by LBM on December 13, 2009

On the third day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
And a thousand beautiful new zines.

Buy one here. Thanks,

First Book: Last Days

Posted in LBM Books by LBM on December 12, 2009

It is hard to believe that our first publication was produced over a year ago. Printed on newsprint to commemorate the end of an era, Alec Soth’s Last Days of W. was an experiment in DIY publishing.

Unfortunately we’re pretty much sold out.

Welcome

Posted in Flotsam by LBM on December 12, 2009

Welcome to The Little Brown Mushroom Blog. This is a place to talk about good books (our own and others). Thanks for visiting,