Quality documentation is nothing new in the world of graffiti and street art. From the early days there were people intrigued by subway graffiti and other stuff out and about they saw as an art form. The most striking example is Martha Cooper of course, but there have been plenty of others, like Keith Baugh who just recently released a book containing ‘70’s subway graffiti pictures (review here).
Anyway, times are different now. Everyone snaps away with their mobiles and the quantity of pictures has gone up incredibly, but that doesn’t say anything about quality or originality of the pictures. That is where Jeremy Gibbs comes around the corner (previes interview with Jeremy here: Jeremy Gibbs). Hopping fences, armed with a proper camera and tripod he shows what kind of effort goes into making proper pictures and showing works and places that haven’t been seen before.
I can remember clearly when I first saw Jeremy’s HDR pictures of graffiti and street art around London. I wasn’t a big fan of his ‘HDR’ effects, but it was obvious that someone was going out of his way to take these pictures. Within months he had perfected the HDR skills and since then he has been going around Europe snapping the most incredible Urban Exploring (Urbex) and street art / graffiti pictures.
So to the point! Jeremy teamed up with our favorite book-publisher ‘Carpet Bombing Culture’ to create an amazing book on Urbex and Urban Art (appropriately named ‘abandoned art’ by Jeremy): ‘Out of sight’.
The look & feel
Out of sight is a hardcover book (or at least the edition I have) with a matte picture of Seacreative’s work in an abandoned factory on the front. It’s a very calm cover, a good introduction and fitting with the book title and colors. It doesn’t entirely prepare you for the awesomeness that is contained inside though! Because when opening the book you will find an amazing amount (I don’t know how many, no digits in the corners) of thick, shiny full color pages with the most amazing RomanyWG pictures.
One of the first things I noticed while flicking through the book, is that Jeremy’s pictures actually come out best in print. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with them on his infamous Flickr account. It’s just that when printed on a black background and placed in a pretty lay-out, they truly shine. On that note, the lay-out is just about perfect, but we’re used to nothing else from the carpet bombing culture!
Another thing I can really appreciate is the extensive credit list in the back of the book. There’s no obligation to do this, so it’s really a sign of respect to the artists that did their thing at the same places.
Of course, not totally unimportant is the content. A book like this should be a bit like a significant other: It makes you want to stroke your fingers along the cover, but the content is actually what truly sets it apart…
I feel like I’ve raved on enough about Jeremy’s photographs but just to be sure I’ll say it again: The photographs are nothing but amazing. Being at the right place is one thing, being able to capture that place in a perfect way, that’s Jeremy Gibbs for ya.
The buildings that Jeremy has been visiting are mainly on the UK and mainland Europe: Belgium (Doel),France, Spain and Italy. Thinking of these countries all kind of names come to mind: Roa, Resto, DMV, Septik, Aryz, Seacreative, Phlegm, Seacreative. Work of all of these artists is incorporated in the book, and more. One thing I like is that some of the most striking works are from unknown artists.
Last but not least: the Text. One thing that makes this book amazing is that it’s not just another picture flicking book. Not that we expected that from Jeremy or from carpet bombing culture, but it’s still nice to know that it has more body than that. Next to the pictures and the great look and feel the book actually tells a story as you flick along. It’s a story about adventures, exploration, risks, abandoned art, hot property, inspiration and much more. It’s obvious that Jeremy had quite some time to think about the buildings he visited while waiting for his long exposures to be finished. One of the texts I particularly like is ‘Not all art craves attention’.
What I absolutely love about this book, is that Jeremy let the artists give their thoughts as well, which makes for very interesting contrast between different artists and why they do what they do in derilect, abandoned places that few people actually get to see.
To conclude, this book is a beautiful collection of pictures containing art and places most of us probably never get to see in real life. If you’re interested in street art, architecture, decay and or photography of any of these at all, this is the book for you. This book will make you think. Think about why art needs to be visible, about the way we treat abandoned buildings and the history they have, about the perception of both artist and photographer. This book is so cool we bought another copy and dared to give it to our infamous and ever-so-critical art-director MeneerdeZwart and he loved it. ‘nuff said.