A few weeks back I started to follow Mark Power on Instagram. I already had ‘The Shipping Forecast’ his brilliant 1996 book of black and white photographs. (I was lucky enough to pick this up in Oxfam for a couple of quid). At the time I started following he was posting a series of images which struck accord with me. As it turns out they were from his recent project “Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment.” A series from a number of road trips the photographer had undertaken with a poet Daniel Cockrill.
Looking at the stream I felt the images were indeed a reflection of the direction of travel that the country has been on as pointed out on the purchase page on the Mark Power website.
Intrigued by the images and the description I decided to buy the book, which only seems to be available from the bookstore on his website. First impressions are good, it arrives with a wrapper and the style is a bit like a Moleskine type notebook – befitting the fact the book is a collaboration with a writer. The book also has an embossed cover and a wrapper which when you fold it out and flip it over reveals a Concréte Poem in the style of a map.
So far so good, then. On opening the book the positives continued, I think the poems are on point and reflect the work well. Some of the presentation of those poems is very clever and relates back to the photographic work. I particularly enjoyed the sequence around a couple of smokers outside a bar called Smokie Mo’s where graphic the language of the signboards is employed for the writing, inviting the reader to consider how the words and images have been created together on Power and Cockrill’s trips.
So, I really enjoyed the book and in general the images and the words are both strong and they do have a clear relationship and, of course, those are key to any book of this kind. I am, however a little ambivalent about the design of the book; while it works in the example above, probably because of the clear relationship between the graphics and the images, I’d have preferred a less fold-outs and whatnot. That said I have returned to the book a several of times in the couple of weeks I have had it.