Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Unseen Dummy Award Judging... Day 3

So Day 3 brings us to the judging and what an honor and experience this was. Sharing the judging panel with the likes of Todd Hido, Jorg Colberg, Hans Gremmen, Paul Van Mameren and Shinji Otani was in itself interesting and inspiring as each one of us offered something very different from the others.

We entered a room called The Chapel and what an incredible room it was, with concrete walls and sun that shone through the windows onto the books, it was rather magical, mystical and really set the mood for the next few hours.

With 48 shortlisted book dummies, the list was a mixture of highly professional, designed, almost published books to others that had been stuck, bound, glued and very much handmade. With nearly 50 books, you would of anticipated an array of styles, themes and concepts, but the overview was quite similar with only the odd few offering an alternative. For me this was the first surprise, I eagerly awaited a raw, conceptual overspill of book dummies, but instead found an overspill of gentle thoughtfulness often in high production, in terms of specification and content. But I think this is an important point to make, with the influx and ease of making books, often projects are produced into publications, when in fact their strengths and concepts are better suited elsewhere. As a producer of artist books, my need to make only a handful of books differs greatly from that of a publisher or many other photographers out there that want and need high production runs and sales. This is definitely food for thought!

After hours of looking through the selection, in almost silence for the first half, we started to move books around and make comments about what we had expected, found and wanted to see more of. Considering the varying backgrounds we all come from, a united strength and vision arose. Within the next few minutes there was an eruption of sound as we found our common ground.

Having finalised the shortlist to 5 books we worked hard and harder on the decision to chose the winner  What was very interesting was the shift between 2 books for almost an hour as we deliberated the term, 'Unseen Dummy' and whether Conception or Photographic strength would prevail first. Being part of a panel throws up many exciting discussions, some all in line, others not, but what we all found strength in was a book that truly understood its audience, its design and that the imagery was beautifully shot, the winner Heikki Kaski. If we could of chosen 2 we absolutely would of done, but Kaski had this element to his book that we just couldn't stop picking up and looking at again and again. And to this moment, I can still recall those birds circling in the sky, hidden between two orange sheets - beautiful! 

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