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The Universal Now: Vintage Book Plate Collages

What London landmarks have to do with quantum physics and vintage photography.

Nearly two years ago, we looked at examples of exploring layers of the present through images of the past in Photographic Time Machine. In The Universal Now, UK artist Abigail Reynolds takes this approach to an entirely new, more conceptually elaborate and aesthetically sophisiticated level. She collects vintage tourist guides, then search for photographs taken from a similar vantage point and printed at similar scale. When she finds these matching book plates, she cuts and folds the pages into a single surface, arranging the images in chronological order based on the publication dates of the books, with the first serving as the “base” of the collage.

Tower Bridge 1946 / 1979
Piccadilly Circus New Years Celebrations 1951 / 1961
Sibelius 1985 / 1973

The Universal Now works operate as a resurrection of the unregarded book plates and forgotten photographers that have stood in the same places at a different times, bringing these moments into a dialogue and into the present.” ~ Abigail Reynolds

Big Ben 1935 / 1982
Post Office Tower 1989 / 1999
Waterloo Bridge 1948 / 1966
Olympic Stadium Tower 1951 / 1961

The Universal Now takes its name from the world of quantum physics and its debates about the nature of the time continuum, which only adds to the project’s thoughtfulness and conceptual merit.

More of Reynolds’ inspired work can be found in The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography, a fantastic anthology you may recall from pickings past.

Thanks, Amy

Published February 11, 2011




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