There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away
I am an avid reader, often working on two books and a couple of magazines simultaneously—and of course constantly digging up information on the internet. Also, when I observe someone reading, I find myself trying to imagine the world, mundane or exotic, to which their text of choice has taken them. So it was quite naturally I fell into the habit of photographing people reading.
In recent years, with ebook readers, tablets, and smart phones becoming major sources of the written word, the landscape of reading has changed dramatically. At first I bemoaned this as a stumbling block to my project. But then I realized that, probably due to my age, I was harboring a rather silly notion that reading digital words was somehow not “real” reading. Obviously the content is independent of the method of delivery. One can read comics in hard copy and classic novels on a smart phone. (I have done both!) So it really does not matter.
I was some ways into this project when I first came across On Reading by Andre Kertesz. It might have been an act of hubris to continue my work on a subject he so nicely covered some 40 years ago. It was not my intention to either copy him or try to do him one better, but simply to explore the world of reading through the filter of my own experiences.
Did Kertesz’s book influence my work? Even though I did not routinely consult it while working on this project, certainly in some way it had to. Every image a photographer produces is influenced by everything that has come before in their lives. No artist works in a vacuum and as Jim Jarmusch says, “Steal from anywhere that fuels your imagination…Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.” I hope I have stolen well from Kertesz and added something unique of my own.
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