“I’ve just spent three years working on a project with a writer; it was one of the great experiences of my life, but I’m dying to get back to work alone on something. That said, I have no idea how my new work will eventually be presented. While I invariably first find myself thinking about the pages of a book, I could see myself giving a performance or doing a site-specific installation. I don’t have any definitions just yet, which is part of the fun.
But broadly speaking I’ve been thinking about this by analogy to the world of music. Most photography nowadays functions like most music: free online. I’m a fan of this and have always engaged in things like blogs, Tumblr, and Instagram. But this streaming flow seems to make more physical, tactile experiences all the more important. This, I think, is part of the reason photobooks, like vinyl records, have become more popular of late. People want to touch something. But people also want an experience. This is where traditional exhibitions as well as more temporary installations and performances come into play. A traditional exhibition is like going to the symphony; a pop-up show is like going to a rave.”
This quote is from a great interview Lesley A. Martin conducted with Alec Soth from issue 007 of The PhotoBook Review. Reimagining where and how photographic works are shown, and showcasing the workings of each phase of these projects, from design, production, exhibition, distribution, and critical/community reaction, can reveal the ways forward for photo-based practice. And it is very interesting to watch the way photographers are experimenting with the parameters of distribution.
In this way Soth is fascinating, because of the way he plays with the distribution of his images through zines, The LBM Dispatch (a newspaper produced with the writer Brad Zellar), in addition to traditional fine art photo books and exhibitions, as well as a commanding use of social media (his Instagram account is pretty great). The diversity of his photo-based outputs, and his curiosity about where they will fit into the photo world, provides such a clear view into his thought process that it is almost accompanied with a voice narrative of questions.
Though playful, his distribution methods point toward the ways in which it is possible to reimagine the products of all kinds of photo-based storytelling (a crucial component to rethinking who sees work, and how they see it). His projects and the way they are given to the world (and who they are given to) are well worth having a look at. You you can read the rest of the interview here.