ERIC STEPHANIAN is a photographer and researcher currently based in Paris. After serving as a Heraldry Professional and Photo-Researcher for the Armenian Ministry of Defense from 2007-2010, he studied Photography and the Art Market at the Objective Reality Foundation (St. Petersburg), and Etymology, Myths and Modern Thought at the Sorbonne (Paris). In 2011, Stephanian received a European Masters of Photography Scholarship from the Instituto Europeo de Design (Madrid) and was awarded the Best Portfolio Award during the 2011 European Month of Photography 2011 in Bratislava. He is currently researching for the Experiment Archive, and publishing via 357159258 (http://357159258.com/).
Editor: Tell me about the book that you're showing here.
Editor: Well, I'm always careful with the words because they have a meaning. I agree to use the word 'book' only to specify a physical quality of the object. I mean if we analyze, 'etymologically', the word 'book' we will be really surprised, because it just means a kind of tree. The word comes from proto-Indo-European 'bhagos', which means a 'beech tree' (people still carve initials onto trees).
E: So what should we call that object (smiling)?
E: I prefer to use the word publication. I mean it's an act of making something public. I will explain. I always considered myself as a ball (smiling). I mean, I feel that I am like a membrane, which is in a space and also has a very little space inside of it. Only I know what is going on inside of the ball, until I make a little hole in the membrane, and thus make it public. I'm just twenty-five, but even from early childhood I knew that sometimes we need to publish. Just to let it out. So for me, publication is the process of letting something out from inside of the ball, into the bigger outer-space. I will go even further and say that, as a membrane, I feel that the interior processes are also publications, because when I think I'm also really listening to what I'm thinking (smiling).
E: If I understand correctly, you're talking about...
E: Look. Just right now you said the word 'talking', right?
E: Even your speech is a publication. Okay, just in order not to lose the main point of the current discussion we will say that the object that is considered a 'book' is some kind of publication that can last much longer in the outer-space than pronounced speech sound.
E: You said that there are also other issues that you're proposing to discuss?
I. First of all, I would like to talk about the concept of a title. I mean, if the publication is like a process of public thinking, giving a title to this process means to just kill the process with a word or phrase.
II. We are talking about 'photo-books', which I would like to replace with the word 'imagery', and the second big problem for me, even today, is that editors of tree-based imageries are working only with 'professionals' (smiling). I can never understand the word 'professional' when we talk about the imagery publisher. I mean, everyone has something to say or to draw. I have a neighbor who, maybe once in his entire boring life, made just one great image or text. But why the hell would I not make it public?
III. Colophon. I know that we are really, really proud of our publications, but I think this is more about the satisfaction of our authority complex. I mean, like, we just want more to say to the world - to announce that we made a publication. Isn't it better to simply show the publication?
IV. The next thing I wanted to share with you is that a lot of us, even today, think that we have to put images on the web. Enough (smiling). Today, it's time to just take images from the internet; there is a huge amount of imagery on the internet that we never ever saw before in our lives.
E: But there are some publications that also have a commercial purpose.
E: I totally understand these kind of things, and that's why I just contacted Vice Magazine to make an advertisement for them. The Vice people said that they can't pay big money because of the small amount of the publication viewers. But they didn't say no. So now I'm working in advertising, but I also do what I want to do with my imagery.
And the last thing that I want to say is that publishers work with the concept of the limited edition, right? Why? For commercial purposes, and to say that their publication is cool. So what do I propose? If it's not in the public domain, it's commercial and it's cool. Why the hell not be totally commercial and totally cool? Why not just have one example?
In any case, we (people) need and will need images until our death, and why I just propose an imagery.
SEESAW MAGAZINE: 'Self-Interview', by Eric Stephanian