20+ Toy & Miniature Books for a complete mini fix

Like reading about toy photography, toys, miniatures and anything in between? Well here’s a list of books just for you.

Know of one that should be here but isn’t? Comment below and I’ll continue to update the list! Is there one here that you think shouldn’t be here? Let me know that too! I’ve read a lot of these, but not all of them.

If you’d rather a list of movies and fiction stories click here.

This post contains affiliate links.

Miniature Theory

(learn more here)

Continue reading “20+ Toy & Miniature Books for a complete mini fix”

Life of Toy Photographers, 2017

There’s a brand new book that I’m happy to announce! – Life of Toy Photographers, 2017

It’s a look back at the artists of toyphotographers.com over the last year. I was part of the team that brought it to fruition, designing the print version of the cover and interior layout. You can also find a spread of my images inside.

Check out the announcement post and find purchase links here – http://toyphotographers.com/2018/02/20/life-of-toy-photographers/

On Photography by Susan Sontag

“Like a pair of binoculars with no right or wrong end, the camera makes exotic things near, intimate; and familiar things small, abstract, strange, much farther away.”

Sometimes I read art-based books. You’ve seen this a bit on this blog in my Why Miniatures series where I discussed On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection by Susan Stewart, and The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.

I’d like to, on occasion, share review-like posts on new art books in my life with you. Today: On Photography by Susan Sontag.


My thoughts…

Susan Sontag, a writer from 1959 – 2004 is honest. Her book, On Photography, written in 1973, is a deep, psychological and philosophical take on why photographers do what they do. This text makes the reader greatly consider Sontag’s points and there are many good takeaways. However, Sontag’s overarching generalizations and poorly phrased metaphors are quite off-putting.

From the start of the text, Sontag seems to demonize photography – it is a means of control, it holds us back from experiences, if given the opportunity, we will take a picture rather than intervene in a horrible event.

In my work with miniatures, I often say that I like having control over every detail set before my camera lens. This idea of wanting to control every aspect of the final photo is probably true of most focused photographers. However, I would never say that photographers have sexual fantasies about their subject matter or that a photograph violates it’s subject – both points made by Sontag.

All that said and writing style and generalizations aside, Sontag has some very apt points.

  • For the majority of people, photography is not practiced as art.
  • Photographs are taken as proof of experience, but if we never put the camera down, we often shield ourselves from experience.
  • In some instances, we revel in getting the shot, even if it’s at the expense of the subject. See for example here and here.
  • Photography can be used to “collect the world” or to quell anxiety.
  • Photography has it’s own sense of power.
  • We may always have to defend photography as an art form.

And with that said, as I am a quote collector, here is my collection of snippets from On Photography, presented in order of appearance. I’ve selected what I believe are the best ones from all the ones I wrote down while reading, however if you’d like a list of them all, click the download link at the bottom of the page.

If you’re not into all that, just skip down to the bottom and leave a comment. Have you read On Photography? What are your thoughts?


Quotes…

“To collect photographs is to collect the world.”

“To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed.”

“…photographs are as much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are.”

“Recently, photography has become almost as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing – which means that, like every mass art form, photography is not practiced by most people as art. It is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.”

“To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.”

“Photographs may be more memorable than moving images, because they are a neat slice of time, not a flow.”

“To photograph is to confer importance. There is probably no subject that cannot be beautified.”

“Nobody ever discovered ugliness through photographs. But many, through photographs, have discovered beauty.”

“For photographers there is, finally, no difference – no greater aesthetic advantage – between the effort to embellish the world and the counter-effort to rip off the mask.”

“Because each photograph is only a fragment, its moral and emotional weight depends on where it is inserted.”

“…The photographer projects himself into everything he sees, identifying himself with everything in order to know it and to feel it better.” – Minor White

“a great photograph [is] a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about what life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams

“…it is unlikely that the defense of photography as art will ever completely subside.”

“Although photography generates work that can be called art – it requires subjectivity, it can lie, it gives aesthetic pleasure – photography is not, to begin with, an art form at all. Like language, it is a medium in which works of art…are made.

“Photography, though not an art form in itself, has the peculiar capacity to turn all its subjects into works of art.”

“One can’t possess reality, one can possess (and be possessed by) images…”

“Like a pair of binoculars with no right or wrong end, the camera makes exotic things near, intimate; and familiar things small, abstract, strange, much farther away.”


Download all my collected quotes from this text here.

Why Miniatures? Part 3 – On Longing

ballagarraidh-sky-blue

“The inanimate toy repeats the still life’s theme of arrested life, the life of the tableau. But once the toy becomes animated, it initiates another world, the world of the daydream.”

MMM

Why Miniatures part 1, part 2.

Why are we so fascinated with miniatures? What makes miniatures useful in artistic work? In this ‘Why Miniatures’ series, we explore these ideas through quotes from various articles and books. Today, we look at On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection by Susan Stewart, published in 1984.


Let me start by saying that On Longing is an extremely tedious read. I originally had difficulty locating a copy, outside of the $25 ones listed on ebay. I eventually found one through interlibrary loan, had to renew it, and then unable to renew it again, finished this post through images I took of certain pages with my phone…

That said, I’ve read some criticism by miniaturists of this text and it peaked my interest. I also read that my time would be better spent reading The Poetics of Space, and to that sentiment I’ll agree. In any sense, there’s still some that can be taken from this text. So here we go.

The Miniature:

Micrographia

  • “…the remarkableness of minute writing depends upon the contrast between the physical and abstract.”
  • “The miniature here became the realm not of fact but of reverie.”
  • “A reduction in dimensions does not produce a corresponding reduction in significance; indeed, the gemlike properties of the miniature book and the feats of micrographia make these forms especially suitable ‘containers’ of aphoristic and didactic thought.”
  • “…a world whose anteriority is always absolute, and whose profound inferiority is therefore always unrecoverable.”

Tableau: The Miniature Described

  • “To be a display of the world not necessarily known through the senses, or live experience.”
  • “The miniature has the capacity to make its context remarkable; its fantastic qualities are related to what lies outside it in such a way as to transform the total context.”
  • :…the exaggeration of the miniature must continually assert a principle of balance and equivalence.”
  • “In The Poetics of Space Bachelard writes that ‘because these descriptions tell things in tiny detail, they are automatically verbose.’ We might add that in this verboseness is also a matter of multiplying significance.”
  • “The miniature offers a world clearly limited in space but frozen and thereby both particularized and generalized in time – particularized in that the miniature concentrates upon the single instance and not upon the abstract rule, but generalized in that that instance comes to transcend, to stand for, a spectrum of other instances.”

The Secret Life of Things

  • “The profundity of things here arises from those dimensions which come about only through scrutiny.”
  • “The miniature assumes an anthropocentric universe for its absolute sense of scale.”
  • “The toy is the physical embodiment of the fiction: it is a device for fantasy, a point of beginning for narrative. The toy opens an interior world, lending itself to fantasy and privacy in a way that the abstract space, the playground, of social play does not.”
  • “The inanimate toy repeats the still life’s theme of arrested life, the life of the tableau. But once the toy becomes animated, it initiates another world, the world of the daydream.”
  • “The toy world presents a projection of the world of everyday life; this real world is miniaturized or giganticized in such a way as to test the relation between materiality and meaning. We are thrilled and frightened by the mechanical toy because it presents the possibility of self-invoking fiction, a fiction which exists independent of human signifying process.”
  • “…serves as a representation, an image, of a reality which does not exist.”

The Dollhouse

  • “A house within a house, the dollhouse not only presents the house’s articulation of the tension between inner and outer spheres, of exteriority and interiority – it also represents the tension between two modes of interiority.”
  • “The dollhouse has two dominant motifs: wealth and nostalgia.”
  • “…the dollhouse erases all but the frontal view; its appearance is the realization of the self as property, the body as container of objects, perpetual and incontaminable.”
  • “Unlike the single miniature object, the miniature universe of the dollhouse cannot be known sensually; it is inaccessible to the languages of the body and thus is the most abstract of all miniature forms.”

Miniature Time

  • “The reduction in scale which the miniature presents skews the time and space relations of the everyday lifeworld, and as an object consumed the miniature finds its ‘use value’ transformed into the infinite time of reverie.”
  • “…and their detachability presents even more possibilities for manipulation. In this rather remarkable phenomenon we thus find the object at least three degrees of removal from everyday life: the distance between the work of art and what it signifies (itself not necessarily ‘representation’), the decontectualization of the work of art within the museum context, and the removal of the museum from the constraints of its physical setting into an almost infinite set of possible arrangements and recontextualizations.”
  • “The miniature’s fixed form is manipulated by individual fantasy rather than by physical circumstances.”
  • “In its tableaulike from, the miniature is a world of arrested time; its stillness emphasizes the activity that is outside its borders. And the effect is reciprocal, for once we attend to the miniature world, the outside world stops and is lost to us.”
  • “The miniature world remains perfect and uncontaminated by the grotesque so long as its absolute boundaries are maintained.”
  • “The miniature, linked to nostalgic versions of childhood and history, presents a diminutive, and thereby manipulate, version of experience, a version which is domesticated and protected from contamination.”

The Imaginary Body:

The Body Made Miniature

  • “…fairies represent minute perfection of detail and cultured form of nature.”
  • “Like other miniature worlds, the world of fairies presents a hallucination of detail.”

Objects of Desire:

Part 1: The Souvenir

The Selfish

  • “The souvenir both offers a measurement for the normal and authenticates the experience of the viewer.”
  • “The souvenir speaks to a context of origin through a language of longing…”

Distance and Intimacy

  • “Because the world of the souvenir offers transcendence to the viewer, it may be seen as a miniaturized one, as a reduction in physical dimensions corresponding to an increase in significance, and as an interiorization of an exterior.” But while the miniature object often speaks to the past, it encapsulates the time of production. Miniature objects are most often exaggerations of the attention to detail, precision, and balance that is characteristic of artisanal culture – a culture which, with the possible exception of microtechnology (the major contemporary producer of miniatures), is considered to have been lost at the dawn of industrial production.”

Separation and Restoration

  • “Thus such objects satisfy the nostalgic desire for use value at the same time that they provide an exoticism of the self.”

So that’s that. Why do you think miniatures are fascinating? Leave a comment all about it below.

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Literacy Day


Today is...

There are so many “holidays” every day – this is my attempt at a daily photo response. Check out https://www.daysoftheyear.com/ for future post topics. Join in by tagging #todayis or simply leave a link to your contribution below. I’d love to see what you come up with for all these crazy holidays. Contribution links will be shared daily.

View past Today Is posts here.

turquoise book stacks

Today is also…

  • Pardon Day
  • Actors Day
  • World Physical Therapy Day
  • Iguana Awareness Day

Learn more: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/

More ‘Today Is…’ and other related posts:

Buy a Book Day

Today is...

There are so many “holidays” every day – this is my attempt at a daily photo response. Check out https://www.daysoftheyear.com/ for future post topics. Join in by tagging #todayis or simply leave a link to your contribution below. I’d love to see what you come up with for all these crazy holidays. Contribution links will be shared daily.

View past Today Is posts here.

that cat

And another book “holiday” coming up tomorrow.

Today is also…

  • Superhuman Day
  • Salami Day

Learn more: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/

Bonus: Free 1:12 scale dollhouse vintage book printable – http://www.printmini.com/printables/books/punch.html

Read a Book Day


Today is...

There are so many “holidays” every day – this is my attempt at a daily photo response. Check out https://www.daysoftheyear.com/ for future post topics. Join in by tagging #todayis or simply leave a link to your contribution below. I’d love to see what you come up with for all these crazy holidays. Contribution links will be shared daily.

View past Today Is posts here.

Apothecary-ish

Pull one off that dusty shelf.

Today is also…

  • Fight Procrastination Day
  • Another Look Unlimited Day

Learn more: https://www.daysoftheyear.com/

More ‘Today Is…’ and other related posts:

 

James and the Giant Peach

With The BFG coming to theaters soon, Roald Dahl has been on my mind. I loved his books in Elementary School, and often forget how many great titles fall under his name – Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, to name a few, and of course, James and the Giant Peach. Here’s my interpretation of the most iconic images of the latter, with a real peach and an HO scale boy.

One below has illustrative elements, and I may add more to the others, if I can figure out just how I want to do it. Until then, I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think. And yes, the insects were left out intentionally.

[Posting to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up]