Formato tessera: Storia, arte e idee in photomatic

Federica Muzzarelli (Bruno Mondadori, 2003)

This fascinating, wide-ranging, and extensively researched work by Federica Muzzarelli, Professor of the History of Photography at the University of Bologna, is the most serious academic approach to the study of photobooths we have yet encountered.

While we haven't yet been able to have the book translated in its entirety, and hold out hope for a proper English translation by an academic publishing house, it is clear from the subjects explored, the photographs used, and the sources cited, that Formato tessera is a key work in the field of the history and the art of the photobooth.

Not only does Muzzarelli examine the photography of such figures as the biometrics pioneer Alphonse Bertillon and the man behind the carte de visite, André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, but she also takes a look at the role of the photobooth as it relates to the work of Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Walker Evans, and Francis Bacon.

The book also surveys the role of the photobooth in the larger world, something we take a special interest in here at Photobooths in advertising (Benetton, Helmut Lang), in fashion (Paul Smith, Vogue magazine), in films (including one that's completely new to us, Batticuore, directed by Mario Camerini), and in comics, something we have yet to seriously tackle here.

The subjects, images, and sources make the book all the more tempting, and we hope one day soon to be able to explore the entire work rather than just skimming along the surface.

Thanks to Professor Muzzarelli for letting us know about her book and for arranging to get us a copy.

Contributed by Brian

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