- Also check our best rated Photography Book reviews
Paul Graham: a shimmer of possibility Paperback – 29 Jun 2009
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Perhaps instead of standing by the river bank scooping out water, its better to immerse yourself in the current, and watch how the river comes up, flows smoothly around your presence, and gently reforms the other side like you were never there. Inspired by Chekhovs short stories, "Paul Grahams A Shimmer of Possibility" comprises 10 individual books, each volume a photographic short story of everyday life in todays America. Most of these books contain small sequences of images, such as a man smoking a cigarette while he waits for a bus in Las Vegas, or a walk down a street in Boston on an autumn afternoon.Often two, three or four sequences intertwine in a single book, like separate but related lives co-existing in suburban America. Sometimes the quiet narrative breaks unexpectedly into a sublime moment while a couple carry their shopping home in Texas a small child dances with a plastic bag in a garden; as a man cuts the grass in Pittsburgh it begins to rain and the low sun breaks through to illuminate every raindrop. These filmic haikus avoid the forceful summation we usually find in photography, shunning any tidy packaging of the world into perfect images.Instead, life simply flows around and past us while we stand and stare, quietly astonished by its beauty and grace. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In the interview the photographer spoke about the sequence of photographs showing a man cutting grass. He says "a "great shot" is the antithesis of what this work is about. It's about appreciating the flow of the moment, the rhythm and currents and eddies of life, rather than neatly packaging the world into perfectly formed little jewels."
He went on to say that he liked the shot where the sun burst through and the rain came down, and the raindrops were illuminated in the shaft of light. Besides the obvious beauty, it confers a nobility on what the man is doing.
The photographer's impulse in taking the photographs seems to be that "many moments seem worthless, but they form and shape our lives."
There are indeed photographs and sequences of photographs that do take the insignificant and make one look carefully and stick in one's mind, but, some of the narrative/sequence of the photographs I found strained or lacking that interest/ beauty/nobility, and some of the photographs were just indifferent.
It's 12.5" high by 9.5" wide and 1.25" deep, and is divided by purple pages into 12 "sub-books" (as I'll call them). The book has no text other than on the last page which contains the book's title and author, the "sub-book" titles, and copyright information. Here is my summary of each "sub-book," giving the title; total number of pages, number of blank pages, pages with 1 photo, and pages with partial photos (i.e., the photos extend across a page spread)**; and a brief description.
-"Pittsburgh, 2004" (32 total pages = 15 blank + 13 with one photo + 4 devoted to photos that extend across a page spread): Photos of an African-American man pushing a lawnmower on the grass next to a parking lot, interspersed with photos of canned food and soap on shelves. One photo of a minivan in a parking lot.
-"New York & North Dakota, 2005" (32=14+10+6): Photos shot on city streets show an African-American man holding his neck and head, and also smoking. These alternate (more or less) with photos of an orange-red cloudy sky over a wooded area near sunset.
-"California, 2005-2006" (32=12+16+4): Begins with a white styrofoam cup held by an African-American man in the light. Seven evening photos switch between a girl eating food on a sidewalk and a man near a garbage can at a Jack in the Box. Eight mid-day photos of a white boy in a park(?),white girls skateboard in a park, and a white family eating outdoors at an In-N-Out Burger across the street from a Shell station. Ends with a white styrofoam cup held by an African-American man in the shade (perhaps he simply turned relative to the first photo).
-"Austin, Texas, 2006" (24=11+9+4): A white woman with two plastic grocery bags and a white woman with two 12-packs of Pepsi on her shoulder walk past a Jack in the Box, cemetery, etc. Interspersed are two large photos of African-American adults standing near a garbage can and African-American children playing in a backyard.
-"Washington and South Broad, New Orleans, 2004-2006" (64=30+20+14): This lengthiest sub-book has at least eight scenes, and if people are seen they are African-Americans: (1) A woman sitting at a bus stop eats food and smokes. (2) Shelves stocked with liquor and candy. (3) Cloudy skies at dusk, interspersed with a man whose legs are amputated sitting in a wheelchair near a blue stanchion. (4) A man walking with a small girl. (5) Maraschino cherries in a puddle on a sidewalk (perhaps referring to the effects of Hurricane Katrina of 2005?). (6) People walking in the foreground, with an "Ebony Beauty Supply" billboard in the background. (7) People in front of King's Meat Market. (8) People near a telephone across the street from a Spur gasoline station.
-"Las Vegas & San Francisco, 2005" (24=12+10***+2): A white homeless(?) man with roses at night on a street, interspersed with an older white man smoking next to a building during the day.
-"Everett Avenue, Chelsea, Boston 26th August 2006" (40=14+8+18): People of various races walking or driving past a bank, Dunkin' Donuts, a Western Union agent, the Chelsea trial court, a 7-Eleven, a beauty salon, etc. At the beginning and end of this sub-book are two large photos of a butterfly flying against a large expanse of sky.
-"Camarro [sic], Louisiana, 2005" (8=6+0+2): The shortest sub-book has a single photo of a parked blue Chevrolet Camaro with peeling paint on its hood.
-"New England, 2006" (24=8+6+10): In a neighborhood with large houses and lots of trees, a white woman in the distance walks her dogs on the street. In three medium to close-up shots, an elderly white woman checks her mail.
-"Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, New Orleans, 2005-2006" (40=20+8+12): This sub-book features several scenes, including an elderly white woman clutching a dollar bill and coffee; a shirtless tattooed white man walking past the corner of a brick building; an African-American woman scratching off a lottery ticket on top of a garbage can; and an African-American man jumping on a trampoline.
-"Louisiana, 2005" (24=12+10***+2): A white man and a cat walk down a trail, ending at the Aloha Motel.
-"Texas & North Dakota, 2005" (20=11+9+10): Near sunset in a neighborhood, an African-American girl and man play basketball in the street. These photos are followed by a gas station and pickup trucks in a rural area, also around sunset.
In an interview on the "Paul Graham Archive" Web site, the photographer cites Anton Chekhov's short stories as his main influence for "Shimmer of Possibility," and calls each of the sub-books "a filmic haiku." But instead of comparing this work to text-based literature, I would compare it to the famed 1958/1959 photography book "The Americans" by Robert Frank. Unlike "The Americans," this book is in color and has a substantial number of blank pages (165 of the 364 white pages), but those are minor differences. Both books: (1) examine racism and class differences in everyday events; (2) provoke emotional reactions ranging from hope to despair; (3) do not offer clear answers to issues, but instead are ambiguous; (4) use sequences and themes (e.g., cars) creatively; (5) include photos taken from numerous locations within the U.S.; (6) are divided into sections (although there are no physical dividing pages in "The Americans"); (7) have no narrative text to accompany the photos; and (8) represent great examples of photographs presented more effectively in book form than in a gallery.
Buy this thought-provoking work from Amazon.com!
* The out-of-print first edition, which is now selling for several times its original price of $250, is noted for: (a) consisting of 12 books with different-colored hardcovers; (b) winning Paul Graham the prestigious Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2009; and (c) being named one of the 10 "best photobooks of the decade" (2000-2009) by photobook gurus Martin Parr and Gerry Badger in the British Journal of Photography.
** See Customer Image for examples of these three types of pages.
*** In each of these sub-books, one page has two photos on it.
Look for similar items by category