Interdisciplinary Seminar
Course Overview


Rosa,  cyanotype of 19th Century photograph

Rosa, cyanotype of 19th Century photograph

Like an Onion , vandyke brown silver-sun prints on gampi

Like an Onion, vandyke brown silver-sun prints on gampi

One Sun  concertina vandyke brown silver-sun prints

One Sun concertina vandyke brown silver-sun prints

Photo Artists’ Books

Photographic books were first produced shortly after photography’s invention. Anna Atkins’ 1843 British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions and William Henry Fox Talbot’s 1844 salt-prints in the Pencil of Nature initiated the new genre, forever revolutionizing modern civilization's three core forms of communication— Art, Science, and Technology.

19th through 21st century history of word & image will be reviewed in relation to the implications and nuanced meanings of the often spoken phrase: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” We will probe the array of optical inventions and range of light-sensitive and digital media available today, asking: How do visually constructed languages essentially set free previously framed forms of thought? What syntactical role does technology play in moving cultural perceptions to new realms of awareness? How does the inherent interplay in artist book constructions allow imagined relationships to be articulated through hybrid word / image juxtapositions?

Taught in studio format, students refine their conceptual and material skills when making unique, ‘one-of-a-kind’ or small edition books. Following hands-on experimentation with model structures, the course continues with editing and sequencing image and text into narrative, ‘filmic’ and non-linear forms of story telling. Emphasis is on bringing content to form when applying non-adhesive binding techniques with analogue or digital media. Discovering the various uses of eastern and western papers and how they behave when cutting, scoring and folding, will influence choice of surface(s) for successfully printing and joining imagery.

Individual meetings and lively group critiques throughout the semester provide support for technical and conceptual ideas generated by initial project proposals. A rich selection of critical readings, guest lectures, visits to local archives and exhibitions will take place to deepen thought processes of independent research.

photo books was first offered as a semester long course at california college of the arts © 2007 after many workshops at san francisco center for the book