Monday, March 25, 2013

A Package

The other day I received a neatly wrapped package in the mail from California photographer, Noah Beil. I purchased Noah's first book, This is Not My Sky, in 2009 and I've been in contact with on and off since that time. Internet acquittance's are an odd thing but somewhat common in the photo world, as I've come to find. Even though I've never met Noah in person, I picture him coming over for dinners with my husband and our family, sitting around the table chatting while drinking a glass of wine like long time friends. He's a genuinely thoughtful person and his photographs reveal a quiet sensitivity to the world around him.

Noah's first book was hand printed in color and simply bound with binding thread. The images were carefully composed (neat and tidy) and, in a way, left an emotional space between the the image-maker and the image. Gone Quickly is beautifully printed and shows Noah has grown both as a bookmaker and a bookbinder. The images are less formal in their composition, as well as their placement on the page. Each image is claustrophobic with information and highly saturated colors. The decision to keep the saturation heavy and use bright rag paper makes perfect sense to me given the content of each image, which can be overwhelming at first, just on the edge of feeling heavy handed without going over the cliff. I actually had to go through the book at two different sittings because halfway through I felt like I was  unable to concentrate and needed a break. The fact that I needed time to sit though is not a negative comment on the work, in fact, I find I want to go through it often.

Through the work, I've been taken on an adventure into the mind of someone who is both very contemplative yet struggling to find their place in the world. Is this Noah's voice or is the narration he's set up for us? At times, I feel suffocated by the amount of information thrown at me and then just when I need to breathe, Beil places one single image of contemplation for you to sit with - a space for you to rest your mind, take a breath before you turn the page and are thrown back under the sea of stimulus. The images feel like the depiction of a mind that is overwhelmed and I find the photographic illustration  works well to communicate that idea.

This series of images in Gone Quickly is reminiscent of the Tree series Noah created in 2009/2010. I absolutely love that set of images and Gone Quickly feels like the sister series to this work.

Noah is working on another book and I can't wait to get my hands on it. From looking at the pictures on his blog, it's going to be worth the wait. His process is clearly a labor of love and the end result, is a beautiful piece of art.

Watch Noah in action by watching this short video: Bookbinding Time-lapse

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