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photo-eye Book Reviews: Watch the Weather Change

Watch the Weather Change, By Marco van Duyvendijk.
Published by Marco van Duyvendijk, 2011.
Watch the Weather Change
Reviewed by Adam Bell
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Marco van Duyvendijk Watch the Weather Change
Photographs by Marco van Duyvendijk
Marco van Duyvendijk, Rotterdam, 2011. Hardbound. 96 pp., 46 color illustrations, 7x8-3/4".

Quiet and meditative, Watch the Weather Change is a loosely structured collection of personal images that meander through Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Netherlands. An impressionistic journal, van Duyvendijk's book weaves together such seemingly disparate images as a puppet-maker in his workshop, Hong Kong cityscapes and portraits of an attractive Asian model to make this modest, but elegant book. Part poetry, personal journal and documentary, van Duyevendijk's book is an alluring mix of photographic fragments, tranquil moments and half travelled roads.

The book begins with a series of abstract Polaroid minis and then moves through a series of city and seascapes. From there we visit a puppet maker's studio before moving to more East Asian landscapes, portraits, nudes and still-lives. Interspersed through the book are quotations, a poem by Jo Landheer and a series of email exchanges between the photographer the model who appears later in the book. Mixing photographs, Polaroids, emails and poems also give the book a diaristic feel – like Van Duyevendijk is gathering material, taking notes and responding to the world around him as he travels.

Watch the Weather Change, by Marco van Duyvendijk. Published by Marco van Duyvendijk, 2011.
Watch the Weather Change, by Marco van Duyvendijk. Published by Marco van Duyvendijk, 2011.
Disposition, the song by Tool that gives the book its title and whose lyrics begin the book, offers a framework to understanding the book and work. A trippy prog-rock song, the lyrics do not extend much beyond the title, but the moody and evocative nature of the song pushes the listener to find their own meaning in its ambiguity. Looking through the book, there is almost a feeling of playful free association, like we are looking through van Duyevendijk's contact sheets from a recent trip. At first glance, it almost seems like these are all outtakes from a larger or on-going project in East Asia. There are a few images of the Netherlands, but those are not necessarily identifiable. While none of the individual subjects seem to completely coalesce on their own, as we move from one to the next we can't help but surrender to van Duyvendijk's quiet rhythm and whimsy.

Watch the Weather Change, by Marco van Duyvendijk. Published by Marco van Duyvendijk, 2011.
Watch the Weather Change, by Marco van Duyvendijk. Published by Marco van Duyvendijk, 2011.
Self-published and designed, van Duyvendijk's close attention to the layout, sequencing, and production of the book pays off. From the simple, but tasteful belly band, to the blind stamped spine and restrained matte printing, Watch the Weather Change is an elegant and precious book. Lacking bombast, van Duyvendijk's book offers us a fleeting glimpse of his world, the places he visits and people he meets - allowing us to savor and find meaning in the fragments of a journey.—ADAM BELL

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ADAM BELL is a photographer and writer based in Brooklyn, NY. He received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and his work has been exhibited and published internationally. He is the co-editor and co-author, with Charles H. Traub and Steve Heller, of The Education of a Photographer (Allworth Press, 2006). His writing has appeared in Foam Magazine, Lay Flat and Ahorn Magazine. He is currently on staff and faculty at the School of Visual Arts' MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department. His website and blog are adambbell.com and adambellphoto.blogspot.com.

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