Jesse’s book review, State of Mind by Nuno Moreira
Another wonderful and thoughtful book review by Jesse. Nuno’s books is fantastic, I have a copy myself. And Nuno is a really nice guy who is extremely passionate about photography. This one is definitely worth a look.
For the photographer, photography can truly be expressive of one’s state of mind when done right. And not only that, but it carries the unique potential to offer interpretations of the state of mind of others that can potentially change according to the viewer’s own mind state at the time of viewing a photograph. This more than likely sounds convoluted but this is a curious topic to explore and was intrigued when Nuno presented these images un-edited at a portfolio review I was a part of a half year ago. The zine that Bellamy showcased offered more into this theme, but it is here that it has culminated into his self published book State of Mind.
The book consists of a large amount of images all shot in black and white film. They were taken from 2009-2013 in several different countries and are essentially well composed plays on shadow and light, reflections, and graphic textures. In addition to testaments from other artists and people of influence, there is a lengthy introduction by the artist himself. I am always weary about artists doing their own introduction for fear the artist will misinterpret their own work for us or worse influence our own interpretations to a point where it obscures the possibility for anything new… which takes the fun out of it as well. With that I wrote the majority of this review without having read it, but was pleasantly surprised at the similarity of my own interpretation and his when I finally did.
These photos are essentially about transitory fleeting moments of thought that we all go through in our daily lives. Strangely these moments correlate to a feeling a loneliness that permeates throughout the book. One point I can make is that not all of these photos are about people in thought as some are static subject-less photos that I think sees the artist himself in such a moment of thought. In terms of editing I think these photos are important because it gives us a break to go back and contemplate the photographer’s own state of mind as we for the most part are occupied with his subjects. In addition there is an underlying sub theme I found interesting that is telling of the book….
Which I guess leads me to the main point of what I want to say here in that I noticed a number of people in masks or some sort of head cover. While for the most part is just aesthetically pleasing and for the flow of the book offers a distinctive mood, they say the most to me. For some photos if the subject isn’t wearing a mask than their face is obscured due to the shutter speed, a shadow, or a choice of framing. But less literally and more telling, it is the masks people put on once aware of the photographer’s presence that can be attributed again to this theme of loneliness. In his travels to these vastly different countries I think you will see that loneliness is the only universal. We all put on masks to face the world; however there are these moments of lost thought that we are left unmasked. This explains the two varying states of mind in the book, where either the subject is unaware of Nuno’s presence and to those who are, and that these photos are transitory moments of people’s masks coming off and on. There is then a pivotal moment in the book with the photo of a man pointing on his mask…literally. He is by far the biggest and most likely strongest person in the book (the size of his hand in the foreground, the tattoo, and sheer body structure account for this assumption). Yet here he is captured unawares, literally pointing a mask, suggesting to us that we all indulge in this, even the strongest of us (symbolically).
And then there are of course the mannequins, our plastic ideal projection of ourselves. Mannequins feature the items we want, the appearance/ mask that we are told is best. Yet they are divided from us behind glass, furthering our feelings of isolation. Mannequins themselves, being isolated, can too symbolize loneliness that Nuno plays against often shooting the glass they are behind against the sky, offering a glint of optimism. It is probably an overused motif in photography but like umbrellas they just work. And they work even more so in the context of State of Mind.
The quality of the photos and amount you get makes it a good purchase. He exercises perfectly the fun aspects of street photography and would serve as inspiration to anyone who likes this style. As far as I know there are few select book shops in Tokyo that carry this photo book. Otherwise the only means of purchase is from the artist himself here: http://nmphotos.org/publications.html
Jesse Freeman is a friend, photographer and movie buff. He has a great knowledge of photography books and classic cinema. He can also be relied upon for decent music recommendations.
You can more of his work and passions at the following places:
Thanks for another great review, Jesse. This one is a favourite of mine, no just for the great images, but for Nuno’s passion for photography. It is infectious. The fact that he is a really nice guy helps too.