Book: Cosmic Surgery, Alma Haser

Cosmic Surgery - Alma Haser

Cosmic Surgery – Alma Haser

In June, I saw the exhibition Paper Art in the CODA museum in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. A nice exhibition, but afterwards I regretted not buying the book Cosmic Surgery by Alma Haser from the museum gift shop. After a few days of regret, I looked up Haser’s website and bought the book directly from her. A few euros more expensive, but in exchange I got a postcard with a handwritten message from the artist with my book, so that evened it out.

And, of course, a gorgeous book, at which my inner bibliophile is hysterically giggling a little. It’s not just a collection of photos, but an artwork in itself. The text is not some preface about the artistic background or something, but a fictional advertising brochure for the so-called cosmic surgery, a kind of automatic cosmetic surgery that lets you adjust your looks with nothing but your mind. This text is printed on colored paper in a slightly smaller format than the rest of the book. The page-sized photos are partly in color, partly in black and white. On some pictures there is a kind of pop-up origami, which comes up when you open the page. It’s beautiful.

And not only the form of the book is beautiful, I’m also quite taken with the pictures. They are portraits, with the face covered by a kind of origami piece of the same picture. The folded polygon may for example only show one eye, repeated ten times. I’ve seen some of the pictures at the CODA in 3D, which is even better. ┬áBut printed in Cosmic Surgery, they are still very good. They are portraits, but the portrayed are at the same time recognizable and unrecognizable. The fact that they are consistently referred to as patients makes it even weirder.

One of the best purchases of the year.


Book: Holga – Life Trough A Plastic Lens

Holga 120 CFN and Fuji Provia 400 film.

Random Holga picture. Holga 120 CFN and Fuji Provia 400 film.

In the series of books that come with Lomography cameras, I have the book Holga – The World Trough a Plastic Lens. I got it when I bought Holga the First from the Lomography Shop. I got Holga the Second from a diffrent shop, so no book with that one. The book is not a publication of the Holga manufacturer. It was written/compiled by Adam Scott, a Holga enthusiast who got Lomography to publish his book. It is more or less the same book that comes with all Lomography cameras: lost of photos in bright x-pro colors, tips on tricks that you can use with the Holga, and mini portraits and testimonials of Holga users from the Lomography community.

It’s all not terrible exhaustive. It’s a nice little book if you’re not yet familiar with toycameras and Lomography. However, the seasoned lomographer does not find much news in the book. These are the same tips I have read in half a dozen other books: multiple exposures, colored flashes, endless panoramas… That a lot of tips appear in the book several times (first ‘officially’, then repeated in the chapter with tips from Holga users) does not really help either.

Still, it’s nice to browse through the book for the pictures. It can get a bit tiresome, all those hysterical colors and extreme points of view, but hey. It does contain some really nice pictures. So we probably just shouldn’t look the gift horse too deeply into its mouth.