For photographer Erica Baum “the act of information retrieval is turned into a journey” (Josefine Raab). The library card catalogue and the book are both physically and contextually animated, juxtaposing text and imagery to create new meaning. Baum’s work can be considered an original hyperlink; by carefully arranging a book’s pages of words and images, she allows the audience simultaneous points of view.
Images of people often appear in her photographs of books. In an interview with Mousse magazine Baum states,
“I want the expressions on the figures to suggest the contents of the book as imagined by the figure, or as the viewer imagines it to be. It’s as though the abstract lines and fragments of text represent the thoughts of the figure caught inside the book. So the visual abstraction represents this conceptual abstraction.”
Her work with card catalogues and dog-eared book pages are visual poetry. Lemon Hound’s recent blog posting on Baum’s book Dog Ear describes the process of reading an image from this series. Of the project, Baum says “I’m reauthoring the text in this simple act of folding the paper which creates a new view.”
The cards in the library (pre-digital) catalogue are in a predetermined order and fixed in place within the drawer, within the cabinet. Yet Baum is able to manipulate this rigidity and develop an image that is ambiguous and suggests continuity.
Alemani, Cecelia. (February 2010). “Dog Ear Poems.” Mousse Magazine.
Filreis, Al. (13 September 2007). “Erica Baum Photographs the Card Catalogue.” Al Filreis.
Hynes, Ben. (14 November 2011). “Erica Baum’s Dog Ear.” Lemon Hound.