Transparencies: Small Camera Works 1971-1979 offers an alternative account of one of the most fabled episodes in photographic history: the cross-country journeys that produced Stephen Shore’s luminous new vision of the American landscape, Uncommon Places. Along with his large-format camera, Shore also brought a 35mm Leica on his travels. The images made with it, on luminous colour slide film, are intimate, spontaneous and personal, while retaining Shore’s studied formal sensitivity. In these entirely unseen photographs, a parallel iteration of an iconic vision emerges like a piece of music played in a new key.
The vocabulary is familiar: highways and homes, phone boxes, fast food and sun-strewn parking lots. But the alternative format unmistakably re-envisions these subjects through distinct experiments with composition, attitude, and colour. Transparencies uncovers both a detail-oriented survey of the American landscape of the 1970s and a rigorous, imaginative exercise in form by an undisputed modern master.
Stephen Shore has signed a printed plate of a unique image not included in the book and which has not been published or shown before, except as part of a reproduction of one of his journal pages in A Road Trip Journal. Shot in July 1973, the photograph represents that particular moment in time when he was transitioning from 35mm transparency film to large format film, after he had started shooting 4x5 for the first time but before he switched to 8x10. Unlike the rest of the images in Transparencies, this photograph was shot on 35mm film. The signed, printed plate has been tipped-in to the inside back cover of the book by hand and shrink-wrapped for secure shipping.