dialogues on books: on books and photography – what defines the photobook?

what we are looking for …
during our research on the topic photobook, it occurred to us that there is no such thing as »the photobook«. both the contents and the topics of photobooks are so diverse, that we found it helpful in our research to divide it into in a few key areas. aside from »the common photobook« in which the author formulates one particular topic using photography, we found a variety of books, being also firmly influenced by photography so they could not exist without it as such. as a consequence we established five focal points for the photobook:

— the book with scientific content
— the book as a curatorial concept
— the book as an artistic concept
— the book as a document, report, documentary
— the book without body

certainly the separation between those headings is not always that clear, meaning the categorizations often merge together. as today many »books with scientific content«, familiar to us, still have an »artistic concept« or »report-like« properties. just as »the book without body« could include »scientific contents« or visualize »a curatorial concept«. it is extremely relevant for our approach of research to determine the photobook not only by its aesthetic or formal parameters, but to show and analyze the complexity and the wide medial range of the book with photographs.

the book as a curatorial concept
– books, visualizing a curatorial concept using photography._28A3800_28A3791moiré / fotomuseum winterthur, karaoke – bildformen des zitats

the book as an artistic concept
– photobooks, formulating an artistic concept in their medial implementation. the »book with photographs« is an artistic work by itself — in its photography, the book body, the materials and the form._28A3823_28A3830alena schmick, skin bones objects

the book with scientific content
— books, passing their scientific content on to the reader, using explicitly the medium of photography.Triebe_1Triebe_3Triebe_4katharina triebe, pflanzenschlaf

the book without body
– digital books, designed for a particular device and therefore can be viewed without an actual book body. IMG_2081IMG_2082

cristina de middel, the afronauts


the book as a document, report, documentary
– books, using the medium of photography to document, report and/or describe topics and matters in an illustrative, journalistic way.feldkunde_01MG_0789-Kopie-592x444MG_0689-Kopie-591x444MG_0669-Kopie-590x444MG_0713-Kopie-589x444
jan ladwig, feldkunde

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