Gretchen slips into something -Soodlepoodle´s Crime Story Project

Looking back now, everything makes sense. The parts of the jigsaw puzzle which weren´t supposed to be any at all, now fit perfectly together. Indeed it even gets more fascinating the more I get my thoughts around this project. deutsche/german Version hier. It doesn´t have to be mentioned that at the very beginning there were my countless photographic moves which I had done over the years. All taken on my frequent bike tours around the town. Cruising Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and the whole area of the “Rhein Neckar Delta” is very fruitful as it is a magnificent photographic source for all kind of motifs: within a few kilometers you have access to sights ranging from the most giantesque, purely industrial building sites, to the utterly beautiful, seemingly almost untouched romantic landscapes:
Excursions on which thousands of pictures came into existence. All taken as amateur photographer with no commission or any other purpose than pure excitement of discovering and shooting (i.e. aesthical, commercially, socially) in mind. All solely following my intuition and the inspiration I found by chance at various locations with different natural lighting. All these photos. Taken around the same areas in the city within a very close radius/vicinity for twenty-odd years. One day late in 2007 the idea came to me of doing post cards. As another part of the ‘big picture’ there´s my long-term occupation in music retail. Those days are long-gone when music or movies were distributed exclusively on physical soundcarriers. During those years I learned by simply filling the shelves, that fine music not only deserves -and can be easily recognized by -a decent cover art work- more than that: the packaging of a very good album completes the work as such. Once in a while I do them by myself. Here some recent examples of not yet existing sounds:
Now add a long-term penchant for language in all its diversities to the picture: the mere letters of which plain text is made, working in the record store creating or even reading band names or album titles, a sport especially advanced, funny, provoking or subversive in the pop music world. Then all kinds of spoken phenomenon: vocal performance with all the endless hues, voices subdued, shrill or in diverse official tones, mumbles, slang, syllable swallowing, even the art of clearing one´s throat ;-) It all happened in the summer of 2011 when I got this crucial hint from an author of crime stories, whom I knew from way back when we found ourselves in the same class thirty-odd years ago. I had sent him a postcard I did with a black forest motive and his reply was: “Exactly where my next story happens to take place.” I browsed through the pictures I had taken one special afternoon in November 2011, standing about 1000m above sea level near “Schliffkopf” and thought “There´s a lot more of those photos. How would it be then to use one of them as book cover?!” Regarding one´s photos as the ‘clay’ for creating book covers, especially those of crime stories, requires a very special approach: they should not only be close to the story but more like a symbol or an entry for it, being a pictorial substitute for the whole work simultaneously. Suspense should lie within the picture, the whole mystery of the genre, even feelings such as that of danger, uncertainty, even dread. On a practical level the lay-out requires vertical frames as books especially crime stories contuniously appear in that (paperback) format. Similar to advertising aesthetics is the mixing slogans or single words with camera work, melting it with the underlying photo which creates that unique appearance of a crime story book. Considering the obligatory vertical frame and the need for space to add the name of the author and title already when taking the photo is a great new challenge for me. For some reason I felt uncomfortable with existing covers: sure, they do a very good job in attracting interest standing on the shelf in a book store or online as 108×180 pixel rectangle, but very often feel poor after having read the book: they very often look as having no noticable connection to the story. For me this feels like a deplorable devaluation of the writing, even more, the better the story is, adding to the story a taste of poor aesthetic temporary solution. Good literature deserves something far better to make it art as a whole thing. This realization ignited the spark and impulse to create something more satisfying. Something visual that lifts writing, even something as common as crime stories to a higher level by showing appreciation for the author´s work. Having looked through only three rolls of negatives I was surprised how perfectly -and how many- of my pictures would fit as crime story covers. Then the reply came from the publishing company where my classmate had sent my cover proposals/drafts. It was devastating: by solely using online picture data bases, (and the price levels established in the business), the editors were not willing to pay more than 50 Euro for a photo to make it into the cover of a new book, even if it would be a perfect fit to the story. Funny as it seems this didn´t have an effect on my verve to create book covers of my own at all and I threw myself into the work: into a new universe of inspiration where all photographic work done years ago suddenly turned out to be great starting point for whole new way to look at it- giving room for creation par excellence. Melting photos with text to create a completely new flavour and connecting it with “the story”. Not believing the slogan “a picture is worth more than a thousand words” I found this new project a perfect way to “release” single shots from their dramaturgical isolation. After finishing the exciting work on the first series of 16 I blurred the original letters and headlines. Not only to keep the secret until release of the Reingretchen book planned in 2013 but to pass the thrill of inspiration on to YOU!
- take a look at them on www.reingretchen.de or the whole bunch on this site.
More about me or the things I did last sum.., um, .. year.
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Listening while writing/translating today to:
Paul Simon: “Graceland” 1984
INXS: “The Greatest Hits”
various artists: “luxury house for an exciting vacation on san andrés islands” mixtrax 2001
Cypress Hill: “Black Sunday”, Columbia, 1993