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Essays by Geoffrey Batchen, Mary Warner Marien, Roger Hargreaves, David Campany, Nigel Warburton, Liz Jobey, Val Williams, Darsie Alexander, Dominic Willsdon, Sophie Howarth, Sheena Wagstaff
Spanning 170 years, from William Henry Fox Talbot’s first negative to the latest constructed tableau by Jeff Wall, Singular Images is a collection of thought-provoking essays on individual photographs. Each essay focuses on the uniqueness of one particular image—a uniqueness illuminated in highly personal ways by each of the essayists, whether in terms of the artist’s intention, the writer’s response, the work’s technical complexities, its historical context, or a purely formal analysis. All capture a sense of how challenging it is to create a perfect single image. Even though art photography has been well surveyed in recent years, individual works have rarely been written about at length. This seems to be partly because many of the artists using photography since the late 1960s have resisted the appeal of the single image, preferring to explore the serial nature of the medium. And partly this seems due to lingering doubt that a single photograph can command the kind of sustained attention often given to individual paintings or sculptures. Singular Images is a lively inquiry into the possibility and the value of analyzing individual photographs. The book is persuasive in encouraging the reader to engage at length and in depth with one remarkable image at a time. With its broad scope and diverse range of issues, it can also be read as an informal—and thoroughly entertaining—introduction to art photography.