I’ve been meaning to write about this new book by Jason Fulford for a while. But, well, some things have happened in the world and I’ve had to turn my attention elsewhere. I have a brief moment now, so here we are.
I have written elsewhere that the things going on in the world have made photo books that were in production before everything broke loose and hit the fan seem even more like historical objects than they might have if things had remained the same. Fulford’s new book, “Picture Summer on Kodak Film” (MACK, 2020) is no exception. The title itself signals this.
For one thing, we’ve just entered a summer like no other in recent memory. We’re dealing with so many things — a pandemic, nationwide unrest and an election cycle that is starting to heat up. For another thing, Kodak film isn’t exactly as broadly used as it once was. And really, this is all wholly appropriate for Fulford’s book. It is meant to be a journey, not through any kind of objectively real place but through a fictional landscape. Flipping through the book’s pages takes us through the artist’s own personal universe.
This is one of my favorite kind of book and approach to work, in general. This is not journalism — it’s more like fiction writing. And sometimes fiction, whether it be in a book or a movie or a song, is just as adept at getting at the “real” state of affairs as straight documentation is.
Fulford’s work has always been about making wry observations about the things and circumstances surrounding him as he ambles through life. Through his books, he brings us along with him. In the case of “Picture Summer on Kodak Film,” Fulford has traveled the world making photos that make up a fictional desert town. There is no single character in the book. Rather, the characters are recurring motifs that pop up throughout the book, including time, test strips, refracted light, the rainbow spectrum and distortion through shadows.
With all of the chaos and mayhem surrounding us these days, it doesn’t hurt to take some time out to escape the ugly reality consuming the world right now. Of course one needs to be alert and engaged with those things. But we all need a break now and then, too. And one great way to do that is to jump into someone else’s universe, like the fictional desert town in “Picture Summer on Kodak Film.”
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