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Vantage Point: a Q&A with Daniel Everett on his new publication

The professor of New Genres sat down with us to talk about his new book, releasing at the 2022 New York Art Book Fair.

Photobooks may have their origin in landscape-oriented displays of straightforward photographic material, but as contemporary photography has advanced, the photobook has advanced with it. For both artists and consumers, books have many advantages: for artists, there may be no better way to share a complete vision of a large body of work. For patrons of the arts, there are few options more affordable for collecting and living with an artist's work. In light of the rising popularity of art publications, New York City bookseller Printed Matter began hosting an annual fair for publishers to display recent efforts. The first New York Art Book Fair was hosted in 2006, eventually growing to include Los Angeles installments. 

Department of Art professor Daniel Everett is no stranger to publishing his photographs in their own volumes. His monographs Standard Edition (2012) and Throughout the Universe in Perpetuity (2015) showcased his recognizable style, with recurring visual motifs of buildings, security cameras, crosswalks, and street signs. Everett’s exploration of themes is slow-moving, taking time to closely inspect systems of order and control through a perspective equally intimate and distant. 

Everett’s most recent book is a collaborative effort, a curated collection of photographs collected from Tokyo by himself and Swedish artist Mårten Lange. The book, Vantage Point, will be published with Utah-based publisher and design studio Actual Source and will be released at this year’s installment of Printed Matter’s New York Art Book Fair. Earlier this month, Professor Everett sat down to answer a few questions about the project.

Q: This book is a collaboration with Mårten Lange. How did you meet him, and how did the project begin?

DE: I know Mårten because he and I shared a publisher. I met him at a show I had with that publisher in Copenhagen; he came up to me there and was really excited to show me that he had taken an almost identical image from one of my books. It was a picture of a building in Tokyo, shot from almost the same spot, with roughly the same angle, same level of zoom. We could tell that some time had passed in between pictures because of construction projects you can see in the images, and it was pretty remarkable how they almost lined up completely. From there, we started talking about this concept. We floated this idea of both making work in Tokyo, with the starting point of that specific image and then working our way out, and almost comparing notes. At the root of it is first a curiosity about that overlapping picture, but it was also thinking about organizational structure of a metropolis, and progress, and the ideas that float around cities and technology.  

Q: The conceit of the project is something along those lines; exploring the concept of two photographers creating almost the exact same image of the same subject. How would you describe the way Mårten works versus the way you work?

DE: I have always liked Mårten’s work. He makes a lot of books, and a lot of what he does is architecturally based, so there’s a lot of overlap formally of what we’re doing. I’ve done a few books, but he’s done tons. Mostly, he works through these projects with a theme in mind, then he goes to a specific place to carry out his project. I shoot in color while he shoots in black and white. I think we make work in different volumes. Some artists working in photography think of themselves as primarily making books; I’ve never really thought of it that way. When my first book came out ten years ago, it was at the request of a publisher that I put something together. At the time, it was a novel idea and a fun challenge. I’ve become more interested in making books, maybe as a result of having made them. Usually when I work, I make one-offs. Individual pieces get made, and gradually they find a home like points in a constellation. Once I have enough points, I can get an overall sense of what a group of images could mean collectively. Making books has been an interesting challenge because of concerns like curation, pacing, and narrative arcs; these are all things that have become interesting to me. The idea of culling and corralling work into series is done in retrospect. If you look back on my work, you could move a piece from one series to another and it would probably work just as well. Making a book, where we are each contributing about 100 images around a preconceived concept, has been a very different process for me.

Q: Vantage Point will be released this year at the New York Art Book Fair. Have you done that before? What is that like?

DE: I have done it before; it’s where I released my first book. That year the fair was held at MOMA PS1. My second book was released at the LA Art Book Fair, with one more NYABF release during the pandemic. The New York fair is now in Chelsea, which is where it historically has been before other complications arose. It’s pretty chaotic, there are usually a lot of people. I remember my first fair at PS1 praying that someone would come and buy the book, and thankfully we ran out of copies, which was nice. It’s a great place to talk with artists who I like and talk with other publishers. The funny thing about a fair is having to talk about the work. 

Q: Beyond the NYABF (October 13-16), where can we get the book?

DE: It is being published and released with local design and publishing house Actual Source, which has wide distribution in art bookstores across the country.

The 2022 Printed Matter New York Art Book Fair will take place from October 13-16th, at 548 W 22nd Street, New York City.