We usually depend on the author of a book to make the characters come alive—not a photographer. But Thomas Allen has a whole new take on the expression with Uncovered (September 2007), his new board book out from Aperture. It’s a series of images Allen made by cutting out the characters of old pulp novels (noir and westerns) and creating live scenes entirely with the pages or bindings of other books, then photographing them with a 4×5 camera.
Two pirates duel from the cover of Captain Adam, or a man will peer around the binding of Dark Hunter to the lingerie-clad ladies lounging on a stack of novels, or swagger in through the doors of a saloon made out of yellowing pages. It’s like Gysin meets Chandler meets Weegee and it is brilliantly creative and clever. (It’s probably also a great source of inspiration for rainy-day projects—and a good reason to toss those old Ross D. MacDonald paperbacks.)
It comes with a great introduction by book-cover designer Chip Kidd, who appropriately writes that the series is best for all its suggestible, unknowable questions. Namely, “Why is that floozy housewife so angry at that cowboy?”