#31: Walking to Manage, Managing to Walk
Plus, Second Idea Best, Economics of Indie Photobooks, Gus Powell: Family Car Trouble, David Brandon Geeting: Neighborhood Stroll & more links!
|Bryan Formhals||Dec 16, 2019|
I read recently that GenX is now called the “I’d like to see the manager please” generation. As I’m on the younger side of GenX, I tend to relate more to the Millenials than my older cohort peers, so I’d rather build a new manager than speak with the existing one. But I definitely need to speak to the Senior Manger about funding that project. I just can’t seem to locate them. I’m stuck on Generation Catalano island.
None of this inter-generation squabbling matters much of course, but it can be a useful starting point to think about the word manage. It’s a word that irks me and probably you but there’s no escaping it. We manage our careers, our finances, our projects, our relationships, our households, our Netflix queue, our bucket list. We manage everything.
But we also manage to get by and manage to get home and manage to survive the meeting and manage to have a personal life, manage to not get sick, manage to survive late-capitalism, etc, etc, etc. This dual meaning can be confusing. On one hand, manage means that we’re in control, organized and authoritative. On the other hand, manage means getting by despite the odds and circumstances and universe fucking us over. Control and adversity, yin and yang. Then again, maybe there is no binary and we’re just managing not to freak out about being stuck on a speck of dust hurling through the vast darkness of an infinite universe we barely understand.
I’m starting to wonder if there’s a collective feeling that we’re tired of managing. Or at least asking why it’s becoming so complicated to manage all of the managing. I have to manage my walks in order to manage my strategy for managing my projects and my life. Walking is executive management time, no middle managers invited, they’re too tactical and ask an unnecessary amount of questions (who can blame them CYA).
Executive management time is when the big decisions are made. This requires time, something that’s in short supply, so I would argue that time management is at the top of the management hierarchy. Time is our most valuable resource. If you can manage that without too much anxiety then you can probably eliminate a lot of other managerial tasks.
Easier said in a newsletter than done IRL. I’m thankful I still manage to walk.
The Second or Third Idea Might Be the Best Idea
“When you have lots of initial ideas, your most promising idea might not be your second favorite,” he says. “Instead, it may be somewhere in the top half of your predicted rankings, below the idea ranked first but above the ideas you think are your worst.”
“We’re probably all killing a lot of our best ideas early in the creative process without knowing it.” - [ZME Science]
We’re under such constant pressure to produce and finish projects that I think there’s a general recognition that perhaps we’re not always putting out the best work. I hear this lament often about photobooks in particular. That books are made just for the sake of it when perhaps waiting for more ideas to develop might produce something more unique.
The Economics of Indie Photobook Publishing
Carl Wooley, Tim Carpenter and Nelson Chan of Tis Books posing with Tom and I after recording for the LPV Show, May 7, 2016
Nelson Chan says preorders are also one of the ways that TIS Books, which he co-founded with photographers Tim Carpenter and Carl Wooley, raises money for production costs. Print sales, special editions and sales to collectors are some of the other avenues they explore. “We’re open to having discussion about how the book can be funded,” Chan says. Until recently, Chan worked as production manager at Aperture, where he learned that “partnerships are a huge part of making [book publishing] sustainable,” he says. Rose Marie Cromwell’s book, El Libro Supremo de la Suerte, for instance, won a publishing award from Light Work, which led to a co-publishing arrangement between TIS and Light Work. - [PDN)
Insightful article that gets into the details of basically how to break even on indie photobook publising. You can hear more about TIS Books from this 2016 episode of the LPV Show.
Gus Powell, Family Car Trouble
A relationship triangle lies at the heart of Gus Powell’s new photobook Family Car Trouble, but it isn’t a typical story of adult romantic entanglements. Powell’s triangle is instead drawn between his young daughters, his aging father, and his broken-down 1993 Volvo station wagon, and his gently intimate visual narrative intertwines this unlikely trio into an integrated whole filled with honest warmth and emotion. This is a photobook with a vital beating heart, one that feels close, personal, and authentically touching. - [Collector Daily]
I own Powell’s two other books but have not seen this one yet. This review from Loring at Collector Daily is illuminating. I’m particularly intrigued by the relationship triangle structure of the book. My conversation with Gus on the LPV Show in 2015 is probably one of the my favorites from run.
David Brandon Geeting, Neighborhood Stroll
Neighbourhood Stroll began as a way to escape the studio and gather visual inspiration — an exercise that began during Geeting’s student years at the School of Visual Arts. But, when he reflected on the collection of images from the previous three years, the photographer realised that they were no longer reference points — they were standalone pieces.
“I realised I was collecting images made from all the weird things that people left behind,” says Geeting, whose book presents image after image of accidental still-lifes built from the street. The usual suspects — beer cans, Amazon packaging and plastic bags — are arranged alongside tightly cropped photographs of street signage, storefronts, and an ominous New York skyline. “It goes on and on,” says Geeting, “like an old, lost library book”. - [BJP]
Geeting manages to take a fairly common trope and elevates it. He made the photographs in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where I lived for a few years, which might partly account for why it resonates with me. I also hate litter and garbage. NYC has a problem.
Amazing trees, nice visual presentation too —> These 3 supertrees can protect us from climate collapse [Vox]
Epic ‘wait by why’ deep dive into society and our current troubles —> The Story of Us
Found photo treasures at the Anonymous Project —> Past Lives in Kodachrome: Anonymous family photographs from the midcentury [Creative Boom]
Pivot to video art —> Why Video Is the Art Form of the Moment [Artsy]
This newsletter is a weekly digest mixing updates on my current projects with the articles and media that catch my attention during the week. Topics I’m focusing on these days include walking, urbanism, New York city history, news about photography and photobooks, the attention economy and existential dread.