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HISTORICAL BOOK AWARD Shortlist, Rencontres d'Arles 2023
This book accompanies the exhibition “Blur. A photographic history” presented at Photo Elysée (Lausanne)
March 3 — May 21 2023
Publication date : 2023/03/02
Weight 1500 g / Dimensions 20 x 27.5 cm / 336 pages
Pauline Martin had the excellent idea of taking us through the history of photography through the prism of blur, from the invention of the process to the present day. We discover that, depending on the period, blur is sometimes considered a positive value, sometimes a negative one. In a historical and thematic development, the works presented tell the story of the evolution of this form, whose uses have constantly changed according to the times and practices, whether they were amateur, artistic, scientific, or used for report.
Punctuated by quotations, the book creates a dialogue between the images and the way in which the blur has been described by authors and artists as diverse as Charles Baudelaire, Julia Margaret Cameron and Pierre Bourdieu, thus highlighting the issues of the blur in the perception of the world. For as Serge Tisseron points out in his text, “If the rapid evolution of the world makes us anxious, we will probably prefer clear, stable images. If, on the other hand, we are distressed by a certain rigidity around us (…), we will favor movement, the aspiration towards the future”.
As a preamble, Pauline Martin’s text tells the story of blur, a term originally dedicated to a certain pictorial practice before taking on the meaning we know. Her expertise is complemented by four texts: Martin Barnes looks at the valorisation of blur in 19th century Britain; Martine Beugnet looks at the beginnings of cinema; while Florian Ebner and Michel Poivert focus respectively on the 1980s in Germany and on contemporary practice. A personal contribution by Sébastien Lifshitz and an interview with Serge Tisseron complete this reference work.
“This is probably one of the most important books on the history of photography, as the phenomenon of blur has rarely been treated so comprehensively and illustrated so accurately.”
Urs Tillmanns, fotointern.ch, March 4 2023