Book Review: Tim Barber’s “Relations”

Tim Barber’s photographically eclectic and prolific nature stands out when flipping through his 2013 book, Relations, published by Yuka Tsuruno Gallery and printed by Heuristic Co. LTD. The mood of the images jumps from atmospheric to delicate to intense, but these transitions never feel disjointed or all that jarring – except when they seem to mean to.

At one point, Barber follows a gritty, harshly lit photograph of a somewhat mangy-looking feline creature gnawing on some plastic with a delicately composed and softly lit image of lovers embracing, the latter bolstered by a subtle but crucial detail of a little bit of green nail polish. This surprising bit of contrast of styles somehow feels completely natural. Elsewhere, a skeleton’s hand poetically sits opposite a landscape photo featuring sunlight shining down from the from the ‘heavens’ —a pairing of imagery associated with death and the idea of an afterlife, respectively.

The careful attention to sequencing throughout the book make for a very cohesive and harmonious experience—a feeling intensified by the excellent printing and binding technique.

Seeing these photos in a gallery, on a larger scale and with accompanying clay sculptures is not to be missed, but the book does provide a rather different, more subdued and reflective experience.