FLASH + CUBE (1965-1975), 160 pages, four-color, softcover book.
This book is a visual study of the Sylvania flashcube—the space-aged, flash photography device, revolutionary in 1965 and nearly obsolete by 1975. Created from a startling collection of materials surrounding this iconic object, the book examines the links between light, war, history and photography.
Why this object? The flashcube was a mesmerizingly beautiful and utopian source of light. It was manufactured by the millions, for amateur use at a time when photography was radically expanding as a domestic practice. The cool, contained cube marked an important break from the burn-prone, open-faced flash devices of the 1940s and 1950s. Its shiny, Warholian surface encapsulated the counter cultural zeitgeist of the late 1960s; after firing, the flashcube’s blasted interior looks like the devastated landscape of an atomic age.
Despite its mass appeal the flashcube was, like most technologies, eventually abandoned for bigger and brighter things. Today, aside from a short entry on Wikipedia and its collection as a novelty item on eBay, the flashcube is largely forgotten. Photographic flash is, in fact, often relegated to a footnote and is strikingly under-analyzed. Yet flash’s blinding effects and military genealogy, and the flashcube’s precise contemporaneity with the war in Vietnam make this a rich analytical object to reflect on the continuous links between light, war, history and photography. To put it another way, the flashcube is good to think with.
This book was conceived as an artwork. It is an archive of pictures and texts intended for the printed page. The materials are wide ranging: from a “terrorist letter,” advertisements, press photographs from Southeast Asia, G.I. snapshots, my snapshots, 1970s photo contest pictures, newspaper and magazine clippings, to corporate communications, blog entries, technical drawings and collage. Some of these materials have been altered; all of them have been carefully arranged for the purpose of encouraging close scrutiny of the flashcube and its material circumstances.
Like any other archive, this one is not neutral. The project grew out of the love of an object. Over time it became a negotiation between that attraction and a critical assessment of the conditions that produced it. In the end I hope that my unorthodox strategies—a visual study built primarily of visual materials—can point to other experimental ways for artists, scholars and others to approach the investigation of the everyday devices we use, both past and present.
So why this Kickstarter Campaign? I turns out that printing a 160 page book in full color is really expensive! I've printed several copies on a laser printer at my workplace but, as you can imagine, this not a realistic way to proceed. Without outside funding, this book probably won't reach the printed page. I intend to make it available online as a PDF file, but let’s face it, sometimes the screen is just not enough...
This project is the culmination of three years of research, collection and conversation; it is my total dream to see this archive realized in book form. I’m working with Oddi Printing in Iceland. They do amazingly beautiful work and they are Nordic Eco-Label Certified. So if you are able to make a donation, even a small one, you can play a critical part in getting this important photographic archive out into the world.
Thank you so much for your support!
Here are images of the various artworks that I'm offering with your donation:
REWARD #1 ($5 or more)A flashcube from my collection.
REWARD #2 ($20 or more) BUY THE BOOK
Signed, limited edition copy of FLASH + CUBE (1965-1975), 160 pages, 9 x 6.69 inches, softcover, four color, 2012.
"How to Win a Photo Contest in 1970,”Photomontage, Archival Inkjet Print, 12 x 18 inches, 2010. PLUS a signed editioned copy of Flash + Cube (1965-1975).
REWARD #4 ($125 or more) EDITIONED PRINT
"How to Win a Photo Contest in 1971,”Photomontage, Archival Inkjet Print, 12 x 18 inches, 2010. PLUS a signed editioned copy of Flash + Cube (1965-1975).
REWARD #5 ($125 or more) EDITIONED PRINT
"Papa Flash’s Gun," Photomontage, Archival Inkjet Print, 13 x 19 inches, 2010. PLUS a signed, editioned copy of Flash + Cube (1965-1975).
REWARD #6 ($150 or more) EDITIONED PRINT
"Thirty Frames, Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte 1964," Photomontage, Archival Inkjet Print, 13 x 19 inches, 2010. PLUS a signed editioned copy of Flash + Cube (1965-1975).
REWARD #7 ($150 or more) EDITIONED PRINT
“1975," Archival Inkjet Print, 13 x 19 inches, 2010. PLUS a signed editioned copy of Flash + Cube (1965-1975).
REWARD #8 ($200 or more) EDITIONED PRINT
"Sylvania Blue Dot," Archival Inkjet Print, 20 x 20 inches, 2010. PLUS a signed editioned copy of Flash + Cube (1965-1975). This is a close-up photograph of the tiny mark inside a flashcube that indicates its unused status.
REWARD #9 ($300 or more) Chromogenic Print
Brady Studio Floor Pattern, C-Print on Kodak Metallic Paper, 20 x 16 inches, 2010. The sources for the "floor patterns" are flatbed scans of the flooring materials that appear in Mathew Brady's 19th century studio portraits. Cross-hatched linoleum, swirling carpets, zig-zagging brickwork--the charged surfaces where Brady's subjects once stood--are the basis for these abstractions. The pixels are overlapped and shifted to recall the mirrored surfaces of the original silver-plated daguerreotypes.
REWARD #10 ($300 or more) Chromogenic Print
Brady Studio Floor Pattern, C-Print on Kodak Metallic Paper, 20 x 16 inches, 2010.
REWARD #11 ($300 or more) Editioned C-Print
Walk-In #1, C-Print, 20 x 16 inches, Marget Long, 2009
A photograph from my project inside Mathew Brady’s 19th century portrait studio. PLUS a signed editioned copy of Flash + Cube (1965-1975). Please email me directly to discuss options. All photographs are available in 16 x 20 inches.
REWARD #12 ($500 or more) EDITIONED C-PRINT
"Sylvania Flashcube (Used)," C-Print, 40 x 30 inches, 2010. PLUS a signed editioned copy of Flash + Cube (1965-1975). This is a large format photograph of a used flashcube printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper.
- (30 days)