A small, spiral book of photos entitled "The Assorted States of America 3.0" recently arrived in our mailbox. What is the background story on this "book series"?
Just yet another variation on something I've now been doing for quite a long while. This is the third (3.0) that involved a 'mash-up' of pix made in the states I've been wandering around in the past 3 years. Others have been eccentrically focused on one place or region one theme, or one idea or whim -- or nothing in particular, when I'm feeling particularly Dada. A few people have been recipients a few times over. But, I usually try to conjure up fresh and unsuspecting bunch of victims -- some are definitely photographically 'informed', others not at all; and, some will have no idea just who I might be. I've always liked sending and getting things in the mail; I know that, even in the era of the Internet, am not alone on this.
Another factor: well, I was always good at Show 'n Tell as a kid, and since so much of my life is solitary, its a bit of a balm thinking that I can give friends and associates a glimpse of some of the stuff I glance at as I go about my lonesome way in the world.
The photos, taken in parallel to your larger format work, were made with a Hexar. Can you tell us about working in this smaller setting?
I've almost never not sallied forth with a camera or two (or three, or four) -- this for a complexity of reasons, from the seriously philosophical to the sheerly idiosyncratic. The Hexar (and before it an Olympus XA -- there's still one tucked in my big camera bag on a just in case basis) has long been a constant. I have never identified myself as a 35mm photographer, but I sure have burned a lot of 35mm film over the years.
My Hexar-made pictures are merely of the small passing noticings I make along the way when I'm out and about. The camera serves, I suppose, like in a visual notebook or sketchbook. There is some significant degree of overlap with what I shoot with the Technorama - my 'real' work. (On occasion circumstances have arisen wherein something I've made in the 35mm mode has been deemed to also be 'real' work too.)
Each book has a unique collection of photos. How do you select (or not) the photos in each installment?
This mailing was comprised of 25 booklets, each comprised of a little over 1,000 photographs. I try to maximize the 'randomness' of each selection by a lot of shuffling -- hence, 'The Assorted States...'. I do try to avoid a running sequence of images of the same thing or situation; so, whenever I do notice that as having happened, I will do the necessary re-distribution. On rare occasions if I see a shot I've made that might be of special appeal to a certain individual, I break my own rule, and 'salt' that person's selection.
My bindery? --the UPS store down the block. It supplanted Kinkos.
When I get my 35mm film processed I always order 2 prints of each exposure. One goes into 'the archive', and the other goes on the pile that eventually gets turned into the booklets. The cost of making and mailing them is not insubstantial. A key factor about deciding to make them and then send them off is a surge of (unanticipated) income. So, each mailing ultimately has a celebratory aspect to it.
You mail the books out in waves. Who are the lucky recipients and why include the mailing list on the back of the book?
I do mail them all in one go; but, I tend to take mercy on postal clerks and mail them from a couple of nearby POs. I make and include that mailing list essentially just because I like doing that. But there's also the pleasant possibility that each recipient could puzzle over -- or, marvel at -- just any or all of the others might be. I know too that some might recognize others on the list, so there's an added dynamic that if they ever wind up in cahoots, they can drag out their booklets and do a 'compare and contrast'.