Mark van den Brink — The Minox Files
Book by Mark van den Brink, 2021
Hardbound, 12 x 15 cm
Photos in duotone & full-colour
Concept by Mark van den Brink & Willem van Zoetendaal
Published by Van Zoetendaal Publishers
384 pages | edition of 750
€ 35,00 + shipping
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Minox is the name of the subminiature camera, invented by Walter Zapp back in 1936 and produced to be a camera anyone could use, especially those new to photography. Shortly thereafter, following World War II, it was redesigned and entered the ranks of espionage as a spy camera. The ultralight aluminium device’s format could easily be concealed in clothing, hollow books, bags, and suitcases. It was used by intelligence operatives During the Cold War and starred in a number of movies including those about James Bond.
At 8×11 mm, the Minox has the smallest-sized negatives in analog photography. To load his Minox camera, photographer Mark van den Brink cut the plastic film to size by hand. Because the cutting has to be done in the dark, the film is often scratched. Those imperfections are part of it, the photos gain something mysterious and magical. Same as the distorted perspective, fuzzy texture, and irregularities of the prints all coalesce flawlessly with his own way of looking at the world.
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Recounting near and far away travels, The Minox Files covers the archive of the years 1994-2005. Van den Brink’s Alpine adventure photos feel like they could be the newly discovered first photographs of some early pioneer, hitherto unnamed mountaineering photographe. In the Alps, he experimented by mounting his miniature camera onto binoculars and even a telescope, causing the mountain peaks to seem simultaneously close and yet even further away.
Van den Brink doesn’t plan his images: he recognizes them when he comes upon them on location. Seeking and observing. Uninhibited and working in an experimental yet unpretentious manner, a style of poetic diary-like images gives an account of his travels and life. He purchased the camera thinking that he could – like a voyeur – inconspicuously photograph the world around him, even from the comfort of an easy chair.
This book takes you on several rambles that break with the classic romantic vacation, including Van den Brink’s voyage down the Meuse River and walks along the decommissioned 38 km La Petite Ceinture railroad track in Paris, as well as his unforgettable meandering strolls through North Amsterdam.