Create: The Nature of Water

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I get some of the craziest things in the mail and when I say “crazy,” I mean “crazy good.” You can add “The Nature of Water,” to that list. This is a beast of a book and I can’t even imagine the time and team required to pull this off but thankfully fifty-one photojournalists and Aaron Guy Leroux and Adam Malamis did just that.

This is a stunning book covering Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition protests. They don’t mess around with their protests in that part of the world and you know if you are covering these babies there is a good chance you might get your ass handed to you. It happens, so hats off to those choosing to record what some don’t want recorded. (It’s been years since I got hammered at a protest but I don’t miss it.)

This book has over three hundred images and some are of the rough cut. Pain, violence and the like. The layout is intriguing, feeling fractured in some places and calm in others. This is what design is about. Evoking something from the reader to maintain attention.

Printed inside cover, linen, foil, deboss and a paper that feels mostly uncoated. (Reminds of Mohawk Uncoated, one of my favs.) Textured but not toothy and holds color and blacks well. Just curating a book like this is like climbing a visual Everest. Add the sequence, the design, the copy edit, the persmissions, etc. and you are talking monumental project.

This book in itself is testimony. This book is a witness. When the team is long gone, moved on or aged out the book remains. I tell photographers all the time “think long-play,” because these projects often get better with time. When the powers want to retell or rewrite you can casually raise your hand and say “not so fast.”

The last thing I’ll say about this is it lives as yet another example of what collaboration can do. It took me far too long to realize my work and my career were far more interesting when others were involved. All of the best projects of the last five years have been collaborations and nearly everything I’m involved in now is collaborative. (I just participated in two art projects by other creatives and both have already led to additional successes I never saw coming.) The age of the picture agency is over but creatives can do this on their own now and are often better for it.

You can open this book at any point and jump right in. In fact, I would advise you to do so before returning to the front matter and progressing like a normal human being. Warm yourself up for what’s coming. Kudos to the team behind this. A remarkable testament. And to those in Hong Kong. Keep fighting the good fight.

Comments 6

  1. That book is beautiful. I like complicated, but man, the world sure is complicated. There’s always someone out there ready to question your reality. I lived there for a short time, wonderful place. I was happy to see people questioning the extradition laws and pushing back. But then you add in my cynicism about my country of residence. We label a lot of places as militaristic, expansionist, etc. If you calculate which country in the last 50 years has invaded the most places, dropped the most bombs, deployed the most troops – which country is it? But we’re the good guys, right? And what are these reservations? A “better” timed (pre-digital) Uigur-like policy?

    It’s a Wednesday night during the Great Pandemic, and I’m sipping whiskey and rambling a bit. It’s a logic mistake for me to project my domestic cynicism abroad. But there are times that you look at our South American OAS/Monroe Doctrine iron grip and our foreign military “adventurism” and that American Exceptionalism hits hard.

    Then you spend a little time online and you see some news outlets (not gonna name them, my policy is to avoid the troll headaches) who are correctly pointing out some of the right wing evangelical backgrounds of the people pushing the hardest opposition, but you still think that news outlet is a little shady, too, with a weird affinity for autocratic regimes.

    To think I used to work in that realm. You left a career in photography, but you obviously still love aspects of it, especially the people fighting the good fight. I worked with some amazing people in the foreign policy realm, including great counterparts in other countries, but everything gets pushed up to the Lindsey Grahams of the world in the boardroom, and that $*I! is broken and corrupt.

    1. Scott,

      Yeah, nice book, I agree, but where’s the one about the Occupy movement and how the Obama administration coordinated through local police agencies a complete shutdown of all the camps almost simultaneously. We like pushback everywhere except here.

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      We’ve all got blood on our hands. Corruption here goes back to day one at the colonies. Hanging out in our knickers and sideways hats scheming on how to get over on one another.

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      I will take this time to quote John Rambo. “There ARE no friendly civilians.” Our country is world class when it comes to unsavory activity. We also do good so like most characters we have good and evil duking it out.

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