This stunning photo book is the result of an extraordinary visual mind

Of "Cue the sun," published by Stanley Barker.  The photos in the book were taken from the windows of moving buses during a trip to India.  (Trent Parke/Magnum Photos)
Excerpt from “Cue the Sun”, published by Stanley Barker. The photos in the book were taken from the windows of moving buses during a trip to India. (Trent Parke/Magnum Photos)

Photographer Trent Parke’s book “Cue the Sun” (Stanley Barker, 2022) is a delightful document. It is also, unfortunately, sold out. It’s amazing. It was released just two months ago.

I don’t know when it sold out, but that’s not really surprising. “Cue the Sun” is as much a stand-alone work of art as it is a book of photographs. Parke has a pretty voracious following (his book “Dream/Life,” which is also out of print, sells for $1,500) and this book is lavish and unique.

Here is the publisher’s description of Parke’s book:

“This highly anticipated artist’s book is constructed as a single, expansive, double-printed concertina, taking you on a fantastical journey through the kinetic Indian night to a breathtaking dawn.”

Parke took the footage just a week before the coronavirus pandemic while traveling through parts of India. There he accompanied cricketing legend Steve Waugh, who was traveling the country to compile his own book of photographs.

There are photographers, other artists and even sports people who spend so much time perfecting their discipline that it becomes more or less automatic. You can think of it as muscle memory or “being in the zone”. Parke is no exception, and this book proves it.

The “Cue the Sun” photos were all taken behind bus windows as Parke and Waugh traveled between Agra, Amritsar, Delhi, Dharamshala, Meerut and Mathura.

There’s not a lot of depth to the footage, at least not in a sociopolitical way. They are mostly surface studies – sideways glances made by an extraordinary visual mind. Although Parke was a somewhat passive gamer, sitting on a bus and scanning the landscape, his mind (muscle memory) filtered everything through his considerable visual sensitivity.

I would go so far as to say that where the photos were taken is almost irrelevant. There is no overt social or political message. I don’t think most of Parke’s productions are really about depicting the outside of things. Instead, Parke’s work is more about the interior, the imagination, ideas and feelings.

About working in “Cue the Sun”, Parke says:

“I always felt like I could have been in any number of other countries at some point. Through the windows I felt the past and the future collide. The contradiction, the beauty, chaos and hope Humanity on the move.

It’s as if this book, itself a work of art with its beautiful production and seemingly endless scroll of accordion-like pages, is Parke diving into the cacophony of life, picking memorable scenes and then piecing them together for us. . The genius of the book is not in the individual photos but in the way these photos are put together – the sum of the parts.

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I am, and have been, a fan of Parke’s work for a very long time – ever since I first encountered his dreamlike black-and-white work in “Dream/ Life” to his epic tale of travel across the expanse of Australia in “Minutes to Midnight”. His work has always inspired me.

“Cue the Sun” is reminiscent of a deluxe vinyl version of your favorite album. It is utterly and absolutely beautiful.

There are very few copies of “Cue the Sun” available, and they now cost more than the original asking price. But if you find one and can afford to take the plunge, it’s worth it.

About Elizabeth Smith

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