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photo-eye Book Reviews: The Silent Aftermath of Space

The Silent Aftermath of Space, Photographs by Caleb Cain Marcus.
Published by Damiani, 2010.
The Silent Aftermath of Space
Reviewed by Tom Leininger
Caleb Cain Marcus The Silent Aftermath of Space
Photographs by Caleb Cain Marcus. Foreword by Robert Frank.
Damiani, 2010. Hardbound. 48 pp., 20 duotone illustrations 16-1/4x13".

Caleb Cain Marcus' book The Silent Aftermath of Space shows us where the light is -- on the other side of the darkness. The spaces Cain Marcus records are lit in a way that the lightness is distant, or trapped in another space. He uses the stillness of night to record these scenes, which serve as a meditation on life in transitory places.

Windows and doorways also play a prominent role in the book. Windows are lit, or covered over. Doorways are closed, or behind fences. One of the few open doorways in the book shows a lit window. Life might be where the light is, but it is not present in any of the images. Cain Marcus has chosen transitory spaces in which to create a number of his pictures. Parking lots, construction sites, the post office and rail lines are just some of places where he has frozen an empty moment, the stillness after the busy day.

The Silent Aftermath of Space, by Caleb Cain Marcus. Published by Damiani, 2010.
This book reads like a nocturnal journey that the photographer takes regularly, like he is looking for the light in the darkness. The images suggests he might be finding what he is looking for, but it is not certain. The most jarring moments in this night travels are when he steps into the light of the churches. In two instances, Cain Marcus shows us empty churches, rows of seats are vacant and the light rises above the spaces giving off a brightness that is absent in the remainder of the book. These images help clarify the metaphor of the light and dark and adds weight to it. The transition to the light is jarring, but clearly intentional.

The Silent Aftermath of Space, by Caleb Cain Marcus. Published by Damiani, 2010.
As an object the book is large, which serves the images well. It is a book that demands your attention while reading. The location of each image is all the reader is given in the captions that whisper beneath bold images. The thin gray type is subtle and manages to balance out the design. Robert Frank's short introduction serves the purpose of adding Cain Marcus to his photographic lineage. Ralph Gibson is also thanked at the end of the book. Both of these influences can be seen in the quiet, dark and thoughtful pictures.

With multiple readings the work comes alive. At first glance the stillness of the pictures is easy to gloss over. The large images offer many different entry points giving a variety of readings, but this book requires more from the reader because of the stillness. This stillness shouts at the reader; 'Look here, what is it that you see?'—Tom Leininger

Tom Leininger is a photographer and educator based in Denton, Texas. He received his MFA in photography from the University of North Texas. Prior to that he was a newspaper photographer in Indiana. His work can be found at