Duck Duck Book


61 – photobooth
06.10.2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: art & entertainment

Photobooth / Babbette Hines.
New York : Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.
[MCL call number: 779.2 H662p 2002; one copy, one hold]

I’m not sure I have much to say about Photobooth — though I can describe it, and I will shortly — the main reason for mentioning it here is simply that it is lovely and surprising and you are many of you very likely to miss it unless you have it pointed out.

You’ve been to a photobooth; everyone has.  It’s a big box, as big, perhaps, as a car.  You slide into it (maybe you jam yourself in with several of your closest friends), decide which color of curtain you’d like behind you, feed your quarters into the slot, and sit, pose, or mug while the box flashes at you once for each pose.  Then you clamber out and wait impatiently for roughly two minutes while the box processes your negatives, prints them, and finally ejects a thin strip of pictures.  They are probably over- or underexposed, blurry, or unflattering in some way.  The paper is wet.  They’re cheap, entertaining, useful, and eminently ephemeral.

Babbette Hines collects other people’s photobooth pictures, and Photobooth is an exhibit of her collection.  They cover roughly 200 pages. Some are shown front and back to show notes people wrote on them, some are set in frames or pasted on to cards bearing messages.  They show babies, lovers, holiday-makers, soldiers and sailors, friends, and single individuals.  Some are serious, some are silly, some are poignant.  Some look as though they are meant to grace a passport or other official document, some were clearly taken only for amusement, some are completely inscrutable as to intent.

You must get this book, because you must see these pictures.

* * *

Or you could get this one:

American photobooth / Näkki Goranin ; foreword by David Haberstich.
New York : W. W. Norton & Co., c2008.
[MCL call number: 779.2 G661a 2008; five copies, no holds]

It has a smidge fewer photobooth pictures, but it begins with a much more substantive introductory chapter, with a technical and historical discussion of the invention of the photobooth and its development as a commercial enterprise.  The author, Näkki Goranin, is herself an photobooth artist, and several of her self-portraits are included in the book.

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