Friday, January 15, 2010

Maps by Nicholas Calcott

The 12th Press is a Paris-based publisher which is focusing on small edition photobooks and 'zines. Recently I picked up a copy of their newest publication Maps from Nicholas Calcott, the owner of 12th Press.

Calcott is the author of Maps but his name doesn't appear in or on the book at all - call him an archivist hidden well from view. Maps consists of 10 aerial photographs made over Poland and Eastern Germany by the Luftwaffe just before World War II.

Like satellite surveillance images or those from moon exploration, these photos become abstractions which with the overlying grid and imposition of city names, becomes a fascinating mix of image, text and line.

Farmlands - I assume (or forests maybe) - from this vantage point, are described as varying shades of grey butted against one another like planks of wood. Each photo must represent hundreds of miles worth of area and an interesting aspect for me is seeing how man effects the landscape. In some, chaos reigns from this god's eye view, while in others, man somehow managed to create a beautiful tapestry.

Introducing the information (at the end) that these images were shot by the Luftwaffe obviously taints how we look at these images and the thoughts that follow. German planes effectively bombed many cities in Poland into submission in September 1939. Bombing sorties and the lay of the land were determined by these same maps. Calcott gathered this material from the German Federal Archives.

Maps is handmade with rich inkjet printed 12" square plates on very heavy paper. It is screwpost bound and issued in an edition of 100. More info can be found at the 12th Press website.


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know whether the author of this blog purchased his copy or received from the publisher. More than 100$ for this book is a hefty price indeed.. This is an issue that could be raised more broadly.
In the financial industry, post-Enron, analysts have to disclose links between the brokerage firm and the listed company. For the sake of objectivity, the same could be done with 5b4 and other photobook blogs. Which of the reviewed books were received as gifts ?

Mr. Whi$ket$ said...

Disclosure Notice:

A) There is no Objectivity to 5B4. Never had it, never will.

B) Fuck free books, I only accept them when they have no less than three crisp one hundred dollar bills tucked neatly between the front free endpapers.

C) Half the books featured on 5B4 were sent to me for free. I reviewed them for free too because I am often a sucker for good, interesting books.

D) The "benefits" of doing this blog are dwindling rapidly which is apparent in my lack of postings lately.

E) As for this book Maps, yes it's expensive. It's also handmade and costs Calcott around 35 dollars in supplies to make each copy without even considering his time.

Anonymous said...

Yeah people are too used to getting great reviews for free. Maybe you should put it in book form, or make people pay to read your reviews!

But I have to say with this new deluge of zines its a new pain in the ass to filter through them all because they are mostly crap.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how pepole can take things for granted once you supply them with good stuff, as if you were paid for it and had signed a contract guaranteeing objectivity and regular postings...
And anyway it's a great book, which is the main point, isn't it?

Sebastian said...

hey broker
keep up the good work
i think maps is a great object & publication!

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know if the first anonymous poster on this thread still has his head up his ass.

machine_gremlin said...

unfortunately making it as a photographer is mostly about who you know. it's always been that way. contacts for publication, contacts for marketing/distribution, contacts for publicity, including reviews. no problem with Jeff getting freebies to review. and i'm sure he writes with a true eye and heart. but anonymous' point about cost does hit the mark, especially in these financial straits.

tireddaddy said...

Well, i don`t think this book is overpriced, may it contain one or a hundred pictures. You get a handcraftet limited edition of 10 photographs carefully assembled into a unique artistbook. What`s pricey about that? If you can`t afford it (i definitely can`t) that`s another matter.
I hope Jeff will get loads of books for free to review, because i want this wonderful blog to continue. I gladly would send him mine, if i had a few crisp one hundred dollar bills to spare.

Thank you so much for your reviews!

Eleventhvolume said...

Tireddaddy seconded - dwindling number of posts is a great and unwelcome shame. I really enjoy your writing, please don't give up!

Anonymous said...

In the multi billion dollars industry of photobooks bribing is common practice.
I saw this book, the pictures are great, there's been a lot of very boring projects (in books or web based) around found images and some good ones too, this is definitely one of the good ones.
Fascinating like google maps + time machine.

Anonymous said...


Don't let a couple rotten apples spoil your universally admired blog


Anonymous said...

Machine Gremlin, your view is so tired.
Knowing people is necessary (how else?) but you'll find that it's much easier to 'know' people when you have good stuff to show...

Anonymous said...

The first question and the following comments remind me of a controversy that surrounded the release of the Parr&Badger Vol 2. Some noticed that the share of Magnum photographers was impressive...
Subjectivity can get different faces. Personal eye cannot be questioned. But personal links are another source of subjectivity. In the case of Parr&Badger, the book was designed to be a reference book. It was titled "A photobook history", not "A photobook history with a bias for Magnum". It becomes a problem if historical books like Schles Invisible City or Tony Ray Jones Day Off are denied a place awarded to less important works.

Of course, in the case of photoblogs, it is less important ! They are just the expression of a personal taste. The problem arises more when the source exerts influence. (5b4 doesn't have influence, does it ?)

Mr. Whiskets said...

Anon from above,

I don't think it was a magnum influence but Phiadon influence. If you notice, all of head shaking choices happen to be Phaidon books.

If they had had their way completely, David Allan Harvey's Divided Soul would be in there stinking up volume 2. ;)

Double E said...

parr/badger were forced to put in many ? phiadon books. their next vol. on latin american photo books will not be from phaidon.