A series of books as a project: Errata Editions publishes Books on Books, which are near-facsimilies of historical photobooks. You wouldn’t be able to find the originals easily, or may not have heard of them; for $39.95, you can have all the pages of the original plus an essay and production notes.

The trim size is small, 7″ x 9.5″, and the pages are represented like this, as a “book within a book” style:

Books on Books #7. David Goldblatt, In Boskburg.

The books that I browsed were not seminal books for me, but this is what they call “meta,” and the scale was confusing. I became insatiably interested in seeing the photos at the actual size. Was I looking at a picture of myself reading? Was I also wearing miniature glasses and sitting in a miniature chair, in a miniature room?

During the same reading, my playful mind-scale odyssey continued. I was surprised to find that even smaller scale representations of photos, in Phaidon’s 55 Series, felt adequate, even overadequate, and satisfying:

Subject was important again, size irrelevant, and I envisioned owning the complete library. How could this be? Was I unconsciously overemphasizing the value of the $9.95 price? Errata made a focus on scale an error, glaring, while Phaidon did well at hidin’ it.

Most photobooks for me, are never large enough, especially if the subjects are landscapes. I imagine them expanding to “actual size,” a gallery of life. This leads me to Borges’ maddening On Exactitude in Science, a three-sentence long “story”, with all of its deliberate archaisms and capitalizations. Wonderfully, this fiction has the ability to put the world, and this blog post, in its pocket:

In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Suarez Miranda, Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV, Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658

From Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, Translated by Andrew Hurley, 1999.


2 thoughts on “Facsimulations

  1. Pamela Horn

    Very good post.
    Reading Ways of Seeing. This could be an appendix.
    Might take a look at Davide Quayola’s work: architecture as a canvas decontextualizing elements to create a new strata and then sets it to music–http://tumblr.poptech.org/post/4372833016/fieldmic-transforming-perfection-quayolas

    1. mvagnetti Post author

      Maybe we update that book then for the 22nd c. “More Ways More Seeing: A New Primer on Art and The Eyeball Inspired by John Berger’s Classic Work of Criticism”


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