“The book — the first mass-produced object — raises a number of questions concerning its conception and distribution. What do we mean by the expression « artist’s book » ? Is Cover to Cover a book of reproductions of an artist’s « originals » or a hand-crafted book containing illustrations of texts, printed on quality paper, published in voluntarily limited édition ? Like many contemporary artists’ books, Snow’s volume doesn’t really correspond to either of thèse catégories, since the reproduction itself is the « original » art work. […]
Thèse considérations are somewhat tempered by the fact that, in the book, the photographs are part of a greater unit, the séquence. A photographie book has characteristics in common with a still photo-graph, a comic strip and a film. The fact that a group of photographs form a linear séquence adds a temporal dimension — a suggestion of past and future — to a médium which usually exists in a sort of eter-nal présent. This enlarges the basic unit of meaning : like individuals words in a sentence, photographs take on or change their meaning according to their place in the séquence.
Cover to Cover is a photographie narrative relating several events in the day of its main character, the author Michael Snow. Edited like a film in alternating shots, this book consists of 320 pages, one photo per page recto-verso, no margin, no négative space from « cover to cover ». The few texts are integrated completely into the images (e.g. the title page — a sheet of letter paper in a typewriter). Snow’s movements are analysed simultaneously by two photographers whose opposing points of view alternate, cross-cutting, from the front to the back of each page. The story-line is simple : The main character is shown first of ail in a house; he opens the door (the front cover) and enters a room. Two photographers appear, one on the right-hand page, the other on the left. Life-size fingers put a pièce of white paper into a typewriter : the reverse side is a photograph showing one of the photographers. In the following séquence, the main character reappears and puts on a record.”
excerpt of the article The Artiste Book and Photography: The Example of Michael Snow’s Cover to Cover, by Karen O’ROURKE. Continue reading here