See/Saw shows how photographs frame and change our perspective on the world.
Taking in photographers from early in the last century to the present day — including artists such as Eugène Atget, Vivian Maier, Roy DeCarava, and Alex Webb — the celebrated writer Geoff Dyer offers a series of moving, witty, prescient, surprising, and intimate encounters with images.
Dyer has been writing about photography for thirty years, and this tour de force of visual scrutiny and stylistic flair gathers his lively, engaged criticism over the course of a decade. A rich addition to Dyer’s The Ongoing Moment, and heir to Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida, Susan Sontag’s On Photography, and John Berger’s Understanding a Photograph, See/Saw shows how a photograph can simultaneously record and invent the world, revealing a brilliant seer at work. It is a paean to art and art writing by one of the liveliest critics of our day.
See/Saw: Looking at Photographs 2010-2020 will be published in May 2021 by Graywolf (US).
In an April 30, 2021 review in The Wall Street Journal, of Geoff Dyer’s new book, “See/Saw: Looking at Photographs 2010-2020”, Christoph Irmscher writes:
“Geoff Dyer begins his rich new collection of essays with a consideration of “Saint-Cloud, 1924,” a magical picture by the French photographer Eugène Atget (1857-1927), quietly reflective in the way some Rilke poems are… Mr. Dyer’s essays remain focused on just one photograph, each of them beautifully reproduced by Graywolf Press. Intriguingly, the timeless statues of Saint-Cloud lurk behind many of Mr. Dyer’s choices, which reveal a predilection—handled with a degree of self-conscious irony—for impersonal structures, such as houses, streets, and monuments. Thus, Mr. Dyer praises the work of American photographer Bevan Davies (born 1941), whose photographs, in Mr. Dyer’s understanding, exemplify how buildings, if they had cameras, would take pictures of each other.”
About the Author
Geoff Dyer was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1958. He was educated at the local Grammar School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is currently living in Los Angeles where he is Writer in Residence at USC.
He is the author of four novels: Paris Trance, The Search, The Colour of Memory, and Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; a critical study of John Berger, Ways of Telling; two collections of essays, Anglo-English Attitudes and Working the Room; and many genre-defying books: But Beautiful, The Missing of the Somme, Out of Sheer Rage, Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, The Ongoing Moment, Zona, about Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H W Bush, White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World, The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand, and “Broadsword Calling Danny Boy”, about the film Where Eagles Dare. He is the editor of John Berger: Selected Essays, Life with a Capital L: Selected Essays by D H Lawrence, and co-editor, with Margaret Sartor, of What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney.
A selection of essays from Anglo-English Attitudes and Working the Room entitled Otherwise Known as the Human Condition was published in the US in April 2011 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.
In the fall semester of 2012 he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa, in the fall semester of 2013 he was a Visiting Professor at Columbia University, New York, in 2014 he was a Mellon Distinguished Scholar at Wits University in Johannesburg, and in the Spring semester of 2015 and the Fall semester of 2016 he was a Visiting Professor at the Michener Center for Writers, the University of Texas in Austin. He is currently Writer in Residence at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and in 2015 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
His new book See/Saw: Looking at Photographs is published in April by Canongate (UK) and in May by Graywolf (US).