September 10, 2008


As Book Week continues, we bring you another invaluable work from Italy, Professor Federica Muzzarelli’s 2003 work, Formato tessera: Storia, arte e idee in photomatic. Muzzarelli, who is a professor of the History of Photography at the University of Bologna, has written a book that covers the story of photobooths from all angles: the history of portrait photography, the role of the photobooth in the creation of art, the photobooth’s place in popular culture, and the digital future of photobooths, among many other topics.


Without fluent Italian skills, our understanding of the book is naturally less than complete, but a rough translation of the chapter headings, a perusal of the plentiful and wide-ranging sources cited in footnotes, and a glance at the excellent illustrations — from early carte de visites to Marcello Mastroianni, from Duchamp to Benetton ads — make it clear that Muzzarelli’s work is the most rigorous academic survey of the history and significance of the photobooth that we have yet seen.


We hope the book will eventually receive an English translation; until then, it is available for purchase through a variety of online retailers. Thanks to Professor Muzzarelli for her work on this excellent resource, and for getting in touch with us here to share Formato tessera with us.

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