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A Closer Look -- Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes by Ed Panar
Ed Panar's Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes is a strange little saddle stitched book containing a series of black & white photographs -- or perhaps more correctly, two series of black & white photographs, because when you get to the end, flip it over and turn it upside down, there's another book. With neither a back nor a front, it also avoids a beginning and an end. It's a fascinating experiment in sequencing and book design, in the same family as Thobias Faldt's 581c, where halfway through the book every image appears again, but in a different order. Faldt's book similarly has an endless feel as the repetition of images works to compel the reader back to the beginning, but it's not just the infinite nature of Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes that makes it captivating.

Keep flipping it over and keep looking at it again and again. Nothing changes, but somehow it always feels different. For me, a big part of that feeling is because the booklet essentially contains two books inverted and woven together. While your attention will automatically go to the correctly oriented image seated at the top portion of the right page, it's impossible to ignore the upside down photograph lurking in the bottom left. Something happens when these images are viewed upside down. I flip sculptures I'm working on upside down when I feel stuck. It's a basic drawing exercise, too -- simple inversion allows you to see differently.

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes by Ed Panar from Spaces Corners & The Ice Plant
Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes by Ed Panar from Spaces Corners & The Ice Plant

Panar's photographs are quiet and thoughtful, including landscapes, reflections, and objects -- a pillow, a tire, a tipped over hazard barrier. Crumbling pavement stones and graffitied walls, a lot of corners and hard edges. The simplicity and strong composition makes these images look unexpectedly different when flipped. Recognizable scenes are reduced to their graphic lines, patterns and textures repeat, depth changes, and we see something different although we are looking at the same thing. Connections form between images and I want to look again.

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes by Ed Panar from Spaces Corners & The Ice Plant

The blaze-orange booklet comes with a small digital print of a mirror on a wallpapered wall reflecting the floral pattern, camouflaging it. It's a disorienting image -- look at it in one direction and then flip it upside down -- you can almost feel your brain shifting, trying to make sense of it. The back of the image bears the title of the book, bibliographical information as well as its number in the edition, Panar's signature and a doodled figure. From a little reading on Nothing Changes, I’ve come to understand that Panar was interested in making something infinite, but to me this book is just as much about perception and the act of seeing. As many times as I went around, somehow nothing ever looked the same. -- Sarah Bradley

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