In 1996, Jacqueline Hassink published The Table of Power, the first in a series of projects that grappled with how to visualize the otherwise invisible political and socio-economic networks that define contemporary human experience. Unwired (Hatje Cantz, 2018) epitomizes Hassink’s rigorous, research-driven process, juxtaposing a typology of tightly framed portraits of people lost in their devices and screens against a series of “White Spot” landscapes from Iceland, Kenya, Germany, and the US, among other locations. Each of the landscapes depicts a site of “non-connection” — places where cell-phone reception and digital data streams are nonexistent or purposefully blocked. Expertly designed by Hassink’s longtime collaborator, Irma Boom, the two series are earmarked by different paper stocks and even a different page orientation within the book — the Unwired landscapes are presented on the horizontal, bled top and bottom, across the gutter; the portraits are presented centerfold-style, as double-page bleeds on the vertical. The book is both a cautionary tale and a compelling invitation to ponder the increasingly dramatic schism between the “wired” environment and the natural world.
Lesley A. Martin is creative director, Aperture, and publisher of The PhotoBook Review.