First of all, the ICP library is a vast magical kingdom of all things photo, and is one of the most important resource for photographic research in New York City. I remember my Seminar Professor Sarah Hasted telling us, during our senior year at Parsons, that if there was ANY place where we should go, and sit down for hours to get our bibliography together for our Senior thesis paper, that place was the ICP library. And so I did.
When Nayland puts me in the trouble of CHOOSING ONE BOOK, the one ring to rule them all kinda thing, I get a little bit anxious. (A little bit). Because I have a problem regarding choosing one/the best/the ONE out of anything unless I have SEEN every possible item in the selection. It happens to me with images, with quotes, with anagrams, with shoes. I have to see everything, systematically, before I can start deleting/editing down, systematically, until I end up with one. So, because I am not going to be able to see every book in here before I can choose THE one, I will present instead THE one(s), for today, for this week, for the moment, for the time being. And maybe a collection of “ones” will ensue in time.
There is a lovely little bundle of awesome called The Color Tree: The Story of Color and Demonstrations in Color Perception, published by the Interchem Color Center for the New York World’s Fair in 1964. It’s a tiny, very feeble little catalog that just introduces you in a kinda funny way to colour, what is it, how does it happen, and how it’s properties are broken down. It’s explanations are short, concise, and fun to read. And it’s colour theory, based on scientific fact, so the content doesn’t expire, nor is dated.
The best part of the booklet is the selection of colour phenomena and colour visual effects, -or “tricks”- that they title and explain, and then demonstrate with a simple, immensely pleasing to see, little graphic. For me, this booklet (and the more I say booklet the more I think of a piglet, and all it’s cuteness overload implications) is a pocket treasure that I want to carry with me, so I am always reminded of the simple pleasures.
I understand we are here to chose just “one” book for now, BUT ALONG WITH THE COLOR TREE, I also have another small treasure called Color Fun, published by ANSCO in 1961 and available then for 50 cents. It is the quaintest “user manual” on how to shoot anscochrome film, and examples and advice on how get this effect, that effect, or how to have your flash make it look even better. Like The Color Tree, this booklet reminds me of the pleasure of looking at images, textures, and colours (quite rooted in the chrome aesthetics from the 50s and 60s) that I have always been infatuated with.