A Natural History of Forgotten Moments

A Natural History of Forgotten Moments. Montréal: Artist Book, 2017.

This short artist book is constructed from a series of fragmented ideas and thoughts developed while living as a visitor in the City of Saints. This book contains personal reflections, observations, found photographs, and snapshots that I collected while wandering the streets, les brocantes and les marchés aux puces of Montréal.

Critical Discourse

Book Review: A Natural History of Forgotten Moments

Dana Stirling “Book Review: A Natural History of Forgotten Moments,” Float Magazine (April 29, 2018).

Clint Enns’s book titled “A Natural History of Forgotten Moments” is another little gem in our growing collection of artist books. This book, with only 38 pages, creates a capsule of time, memories, stories and photography all composted together in to its pages.

Lets start with the book’s title. I found the title to be captivating and intriguing. It plays on the familiarity of its sound, as if it is a museum’s name, and ends with forgotten memories. This title created a real curiosity about what this history of something that is forgotten might look like.  This title almost made me think of the book as a catalog or index for these memories, it’s size and cover supported this esthetics for me. 

I found the book to be very clean and straightforward in its layout design. There is a formality to its esthetics, almost traditional, with a lot of white space around the images and justifying the images mainly to the top of the page instead of the center. Yet at the same time, the layout has in many cases 3 images in a spread, which creates a tight dialog between all the images, creating a story within these spreads.

Clint mentions the fact that some of the images in the book are actually found images from flea markets during his trip. Personally, I am always a fan of incorporating found anonymous images that you find. I think as artists and photographers especially, we are able to look at a vernacular photo and see beyond the superficial of its surface and give it new context and life. Clint is able to combine his photographs along side the found footage, and make them look seamless and effortless as if they were indeed photographed all by him. 

The photographs in this book are very eclectic which I found to be a crucial part of the book as it, as the titles mentions, deals with lost memories. This eclectic style is manifested with Polaroid’s, Black and White, straight photography and abstract. I think that what is great about the images, that they are truly ‘stand alones’ in the sense that they each have their own subject matter, style and story but once put together in a book, create paragraphs within the larger story. 

The captions, for me, where the one thing I felt did not necessarily contribute to the overall experience of the book. I found that some of the captions did not add to the image, or add information that was missing and felt redundant.  I say this with some caution as I do see how it might be relevant and important for the artist, and it does in some way go hand in hand with the catalog/index feeling I mentioned before, but I think there might have been an alternative visual way to present them in the book that might have elevated the project.