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img063Are there still challenges out there photographing cities?

Aside from the technical implications in working digitally and for some photographers working with the aid of computer programs, I wonder after 23 years from the appearance of this wonderful book, One City/Two Visions photographs by Eadweard Muybridge and Mark Klett, it would be possible today to do this whole exercise again not as a novelty, but to document the growth of a city a quarter of a century later. Yes, we can do some documenting now by stitching images together from Google Earth, but it is not quite the same thing is it? Below is a video documentary of The Weird World of Eadweard Muybridge running under an hour. Wonderful!

In 1990, the photographer Mark Klett was able to publish the results of his painstaking efforts. The object was to re-photograph the panorama view of San Francisco done in 1878 under really difficult technical circumstances by Eadweard Muybridge from the same spot, with the exact viewpoints to be able to compare the development and shape of the city then and 1990.

The four page introduction by Peter Bacon Hales is short but makes good reading. A real challenge is the folding out the two sided, 6 feet long accordion pages and comparing the 1878 view with the 1990 view. The Japanese binding, especially developed for this book, has very sturdy back and front covers. It suffers a bit after 23 years from being bumped around, the spine being the soft spot in the book, in my opinion. Here the publishers have made a trade-off between market access and/or price. Perhaps, in the 100 limited edition versions issued with a slipcase the book spine does not suffer as much.

On the other hand the publishers should be complimented in making this book, the fourth book in this series, that includes superb works by photographers like David Park.

This folio size book would make a welcome edition to any photo book library. Here are my two reasons, not discounting any other reasons why you would want to own this book:

1. As a” remembrance in print” of the efforts of both photographers.

2. As a new milestone in American Documentary Photography.

This important re-photographing approach to the Old West was also taken up by the University of New Mexico Press in the 1984 book Second View: The Photographing Survey Project.

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