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Book Review: End.

Book Review End. By Eammon Doyle Reviewed by Colin Pantall Watch Hitchcock’s Vertigo and you quickly understand Saul Bass’s belief that it’s important that the film starts with the titles, that they have a message that goes beyond the merely functional or decorative.
End.  By Eammon Doyle. D1, 2016.
Reviewed by Colin Pantall

Photographs by Eamonn Doyle
D1, Dublin, Ireland, 2016. In English. 140pp pp., 293 illustrations, 19¾x28".

Watch Hitchcock’s Vertigo and you quickly understand Saul Bass’s belief that it’s important that the film starts with the titles, that they have a message that goes beyond the merely functional or decorative.

It’s the same with photobooks. In a good photobook, the book should start with the title. And everything that is in that book, the text, the images, the cover, the end pages, should serve the message of the book as a whole. That doesn’t often happen, but in an ideal world, in an ideal book, it should.

But nowadays there’s a pushing back of where the photobook begins. It begins early, with the packaging. There are so many photobooks around these days, it seems that the mere presence of the book is not enough. You need a reason to open the package before you even get into the book.

End.  By Eammon Doyle. D1, 2016.

That’s the case with End. by Eammon Doyle (made in collaboration with illustrator Niall Sweeney and musician David Donohoe). This is the final part of Doyle’s trilogy of books of street photography based in Dublin. It’s a showboat of a book, and the showboating starts with the packaging.

End. comes wrapped in yellow cellophane and it looks lovely, like a book-lollipop. Beneath the yellow, Sweeney’s Viennese Secessionist style cover stands out from the casing. Look at the spine of the case and you see the multiple parts that make up the book.

End.  By Eammon Doyle. D1, 2016.

There are thirteen parts to the book, because it’s not just a book, it’s an installation, with the illustrations and music forming a central rhythm around which the pictures hang. It’s a bit overwhelming, so it’s quite nice to just sit and look at the lovely book-object in its yellow wrapping for a while.

It took me three days to take the book out of the cellophane, mainly because it looked so lovely, like some magical gift-wrapped birthday present, but also because to open it is to destroy it. But take it out I did (I kept the cellophane and return the book to its protective covering after every look I take).

Open the cellophane and the book is white. At Photobook Bristol I met somebody who had bought the book two weeks earlier and was visibly surprised by this. “The book is white!” she cried. “I thought it was yellow.” She hadn’t taken it out of the wrapping for two weeks. That's how nice it is.

End.  By Eammon Doyle. D1, 2016.

But once you crack open the cellophane, remove the book, and take the thirteen inserts out of the ‘white leatherette slipcase,’ you feel the installation come upon you. The first (or is it the last?) booklet sets the scene with one of Sweeney’s spidery grid-illustrations. Beyond it lies a four page card accordion showing fragments of people walking the pavements of Dublin’s streets. There are people walking, kids holding hands wearing old style flowery dresses, and a woman with a bag. There’s movement and energy.

End.  By Eammon Doyle. D1, 2016.

The energy is reprised in subsequent photographs. There’s a booklet of images printed on black paper, where the movements of Doyle’s cast of characters is set against the silvery lines of the pavement, the brickwork, the buildings.

There are meshes, textures, reflections and backs, the latter a reminder of Doyle’s first (and photographically most striking) book i. But the low slung street style of On, the second book in the trilogy, is also given a nod in one booklet that shows Doyle’s images overlain with one of Sweeney’s embossed designs. This booklet is especially Japanese in tone, the heavily clipped blacks taking it towards the chaos of Moriyama’s early works.

End.  By Eammon Doyle. D1, 2016.

Coke cans, handbags, cigarette packets, advertisements, walking legs and folded backs all get a look in. It’s a little bit Warhol in places, a lot Paul Graham. Get to the end and there’s music in the form of a 7 inch disc, a proper one. It’s wrapped in an illustrated yellow ‘glassine poster’ and again it’s beautiful. The unevenness of its wrapping is even beautiful. I haven’t listened to it yet, but got a taste of it online, its techno beat (in his other life, Doyle also runs a record label and is founder of the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival) creating a rhythm for the streets, a rhythm which is shown in a poster of yellow-sprayed grids and manhole covers.

And that’s the ‘book.’ Except it’s not a book really. It feels like an installation and you want to put it all on the walls and display it in your living room. It would almost work.

End.  By Eammon Doyle. D1, 2016.

Photographically, it’s not as strong as i, a book which is striking in its simplicity. You know a book is working when you start seeing pictures from it in the street; that’s what happens with i. But as an object, End. is something else. It’s all over the place; it’s mad, it’s fun, and somehow or other it all hangs together. Maybe it’s something to do with Doyle’s background in music and that link between the rhythms of music and the photobook narrative, maybe it’s something to do with his direct and sometimes artless photography, or maybe it’s to do with the boldness with which he has addressed the book/installation combination. Whatever it is, End. is quite a thing!—COLIN PANTALL

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COLIN PANTALL is a UK-based writer and photographer. He is a contributing writer for the British Journal of Photography and a Senior Lecturer in Photography at the University of Wales, Newport.

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