Photography teaching assistant helps us to rediscover a cult classic

Photography teaching assistant helps us to rediscover a cult classic
University news

Tuesday 09 October 2012

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A Coventry University Photography teaching assistant has developed a fantastic new free online resource that offers photography fans the chance to rediscover an underground cult classic photobook called Invisible City.

Matt Johnston, 25, is a teaching assistant on the University’s internationally-acclaimed Photography course who has created Ken Schles: Invisible City, A Digital Resource, offering audiences a new and interactive way to engage with this photobook.

Featuring observations from his Lower East Side Manhattan neighbourhood, Ken used friends and architecture to create the images in this hugely influential photobook. The original print run for Invisible City was only for 2000 copies, making it not only difficult to find almost 25 years on but also unaffordable as it now sells for up to £700-800.

The new digital publication not only introduces the book, but also helps create a greater understanding of its content and context.  Inside there are the original images and text featured in the book version, as well as a variety of personal reflections, commentary on the creative process from Ken Schles and even original notes from a lecture given at New York’s International Center of Photography in 1990.

Audiences can also contribute their own comments, offering a unique opportunity for people to engage with Matt and Ken, as well as other viewers.

Matt is the creator of the Photobook Club website which aims to promote and enable discussion surrounding the photobook format. In particular, it looks at old, rare and significant photography books from the 20th century onwards. He said:

I set up the Photobook Club as a response to both my own fascination and frustration with photobooks. Never did I imagine it would lead to working with renowned photographer Ken Schles and creating this exciting project. I really hope this online resource will open up ‘Invisible City’ to a fresh audience in the future.

Ken Schles was involved throughout the project and comments in the digital resource that, “because Invisible City has a short print run and sold out soon after publication in the pre-internet era, it has remained somewhat invisible to a larger audience. I am thankful the Photobook Club process might reveal to a new audience this little known classic.”

Ken Schles: Invisible City, A Digital Resource is available as a download for iPads from the Apple store.