It's a truism that photography uncovers what is "hidden," but my selections for the best photograpahy books of 2010 certainly chart its limitless capacity for revelation. Recently, experimental geographer and artist Trevor Paglen has been on the forefront of presenting the evidence of military black operations—rumored but hardly known—into works that are as potently anxious as they are aesthetically murky. In ways that are hard to articulate, his work defines a central but uncomfortable aspect of our era. But not all of these books are as fraught. From the poetically arbitrary typologies of Taryn Simon's Contraband, or the hidden-in-plain-sight avian project of Stephen Gill's A Book of Birds, or the incredible cross-generational, interdisciplinary project The Complete Architecture of Adler + Sullivan to the deranged brutalist monuments of Spomenik, these books increase human knowledge, and assert why now, perhaps more than ever, the limits of human awareness are defined by our visual environment.
Alan Rapp Alan Rapp is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor who operates the visual book consultancy ARstudio. He has worked with such artists as Jim Marshall, Elinor Carucci, Misty Keasler, Terry Falke, Stuart Klipper, Cig Harvey, David Maisel, Jo Whaley, and Jona Frank to bring their work to publication. He holds an MFA in Design Criticism from School of Visual Arts and teaches at Parsons New School of Design and Rhode Island School of Design.