I know I’ve been collecting photo books for some time now but recently I’ve been introduced to a whole new level of work, thanks to a few lovely individuals and websites. And this is a space where photo books are not just catalogs of pictures in a theme but they are immersive in a certain experience, a few small eternal moments locked inside leaves of paper.
That is where Ying Ang’s ‘Sentire : To Feel” takes me. I have had the book for about a month now but as the work is so delicate, its taken its own time to let me collect thoughts on it, almost like fireflies in a jar. To begin with, the first thing you notice about the book is its pink clouded cover with just the title and nothing else. It keeps me thinking if its clouds or swirling water with colours, we can’t really say. But as you step inside the pages, you’ll realise that all it does is to introduce the audience to photographers fluidity and ability to merge one sentiment into another in the most simplest way.
Softbound and hand sewn with a yellow thread, the book again and again revokes the feeling of grace and fragility. The paper (36 pages thick) is not very thick but thick enough for its purpose, entirely matt. There are no end sheets but the book has mild green colour on the inside and begins with a quote about moments and time. Photographs appear inside one at a time, only printed on a single side (only two at centrefold). Also they don’t cover the whole page or even half a page but are always presented as smaller rectangles on a white page. I do certainly feel that the designer Elana Schlenker & the photographer Ying Ang felt that its important to see and absorb the picture as one, undivided by pages.
Going through Sentire, you don’t feel the pictures hit you like when you see a book by a more blunt photographer, maybe like Paolo Pellegrin. Very frankly, the images are not very strong individually. Ying Ang certainly has a colour style and a very evolved eye but her viewpoint is not grounded in visual drama. But the beauty of her work lies in the very fact that there is not a singular moment but a collective which impacts the viewer. Going through this book is very much like standing besides her, where she slows down time and makes you notice things which you would never otherwise. She makes the audience connect emotions from one visual to another with a string, talking them through an experience which was always obvious to her. And what I love the most is that this guiding is never forced but it falls into place like notes of a melody you always knew.
I’ve come to love how photo books today are no more promoting the photographer but seeking to just tell a story. Sentire does that, it makes you feel transported, transformed. Everything about this book is premeditated, I love it and I would certainly recommend it for your library. Please know that the book is limited edition (mine is 108/200) so if you want one, hurry up and write to MJR.