OPEN to CLOSE is a good example of not judging a book by its cover, though not in the way that one would ordinarily invoke that phrase. The fold-out covers, half printed in metallic ink, with its graphic outlines of various window shapes invites curiosity. It draws one in. The photographs of windows within, though, disappoint.
The minimal design of OPEN to CLOSE breaks the book into 8 chapters with chapter headings consisting of light blue spreads each with a different silhouettes of a window. Each chapter is also marked by a layout shift.
The two photographs that open the book hold much promise: a straight on view of a window set into a brick wall, its panes thrown open, sun streaming across the three flowers potted on its sill; a straight on view of a pebbled glass window set into a tiled wall follows. These two photographs are tightly composed and set a typological tone. The six photographs that follow these two begin to lose this tone as they lose the rigorous composition of photos one and two. And then it all goes to hell.
One window, two windows, three windows. Centered, pushed to the edge. Ground, no ground. Straight on, skewed. Isolated as an architectural or compositional element, incidental in a scene. Sometimes the windows are doors. If each chapter took a different approach, that would be one thing. Instead, it’s all helter skelter with only a general and inconsistent pulling back to define the visual narrative. The design struggles mightily to make something of the photographs. It cannot, however, overcome the deluge. A tighter edit would have made for a more cohesive and focused narrative. As the book stands, I have no idea what it is about. What ought I be able to see through these photographs? That buildings have windows? So what?
Design that extends the photography is common in most contemporary photo books. I’m thinking of books like Seung Woo Back’s Memento (or Utopia/Blow-Up), KyungJa Jeong’s In Between Something and Nothing & inVisible / Suspended Landscape, or Lee Duegyoung’s Two Faces. With OPEN to CLOSE there’s nothing but the design to give shape and meaning; the photographs bring nothing, providing neither a window on a greater truth nor a door to increased understanding.
OPEN to CLOSE will look good on your shelves. The only reason to OPEN it, though, is to CLOSE it.
OPEN to CLOSE
Publisher: Storage Book&Film
Design: The Object