As a follower of Kickstarter, I often visit the site to see what is on offer in photography. Early last year I noticed that Russell Joslin, the former publisher of Shots magazine, was promoting a book, Series of Dreams (cover, left). Because I am very familiar with the quality of what he did with his magazine, I jumped right in and pledged my two-cents for its publication.
After a successful campaign, it took almost a year to receive my signed copy. The wait was well worth it! At about 190-pages it is a very well-produced, hard-bound book that deserves a place on either your bookshelf or your coffee table.
As I do with every new book I receive, the first thing I did was flip though the hardcover book page-by-page. After that I tend to spend a good deal of quality time taking it a bit slower. As I have seen, lately with other publications, the first few pages are images not boring text and/or other notes. I like that!
No image is viewed lightly, each command your attention. Each compels one to linger, just a little longer. Which in itself, is its own reward. With the cover image, “Boy with Magic Horns”, by Arthur Tress (left), you see a boy walking down a lane, hands at his side, alert to another person and a dog approaching. What does he hear? A warning? Other sounds. The question is there. The answer, not.
An arresting image, “Reflection on Henry Street, 2006,” by Maura Sullivan (left), is the first image to open the book. It is followed by an interesting mix of text and images. This first image suits the premise well by illustrating a woman caught mid-purpose, contemplating… what? We are left to wonder. In our own dreams aren’t we sometimes caught mid-sentence, as if we might be listening to something we can’t see.
This image works well to get us in the right frame of mind to go further. With a world-wide array of photographers represented, we are offered a wide range on interpretation on the dream-like state.
Now that Joslin has our complete attention, what follows is roughly 175 pages of images that suit the title perfectly. The artists represented are taken from 17 years and 68 issues of Shots. Almost 1,500 photographers were published during that time, with around 140 selected to be included in this volume.
As a publisher I can fully appreciate the amount of work that went into this book. With each issue of Shadow & Light Magazine, I agonize over at least a dozen portfolios that were either submitted or requested. I then go to the photographer’s online presence to see what else they are doing, and then I work with them to achieve the best representation of their work.
To go through, as Joslin did, 68 issues of Shots to select the images that make up “Series of Dreams,” is, to say mind-bending. It is no small task.
Since my initial flip-through, I have patiently turned each page several times. With many names known as well as unknown, the area of dreams and what they can evoke is very well represented.
“Even though the photographs that I selected for Series of Dreams were first published in Shots issues 69-136, revisiting the images in a new and different context made them feel fresh to me all over again,” Joslin said in the interview at the back of the book.
With each image represented in this review we can sense the dream-state. Douglas Prince places us there immediately with his image, “Francesca Woodman in Her Studio, FWs-12, 2002” (above). Both the cat and the subject are there, in a subtle moment of reflection, peace.
Arno Rafael Minkkinen (above, left), takes us into his continually revealing upside-down world with “Kilverg, Vardo, Norway, 1990.” Is the image, “Cessair, n.d.,” by Helen Warner (above, right), sweet or terrifying? Has the entity just risen from the river or has she been there… for eternity?
It the Foreword Mars writes, “In dreams, our mind is free of the restrictions that bind it to a known and conventional world. I can wake from visions absurd or sweet or terrifying to marvel at their vividness and the authenticity of emotion they generate… To feel, to contemplate, to remember: This is the experience of Series of Dreams.”
One can immediately feel that Joslin has thought long and hard about his selections. If each one of us were charged with that responsibly, how would we choose? It is not an enviable task.
With each turn of the page we can be quickly drawn toward other places and realms. Places where there are faeries, boys with horns, lives turned upside down, and a child walking through a field with a cheetah strapped to her back. Are these places we want to go? Do we know these places? I think we do. At least, I know I do.
To order Series of Dreams, please go to: www.skeletonkeypress.com/