Unboxing Nate Matos’s “Serif & Silver Compendium” the Pryme Edition

Serif & Silver was a quarterly journal Nate Matos  wrote and published between June 2015 and March 2016. I was completely unaware of it at the time—as I’m largely unaware of many things—and I would’ve remained unaware, if not for The Shoot with Matt Day (iTunes). The interview with Matos inspired me quite a bit and got me wanting to print and do some physical things with this hobby, so I went to check out the journal only to find that the last issue came out 6 months ago…

Not to worry, though:  Matos released the Serif & Silver Compendium as a sort of book-end to the project and I was lucky enough to pick up one of the limited Pryme Editions

The Pryme Edition came in a nice box, in a fancy white cover (the Blurb edition comes in black), with prints from each issue. I have #10 of 10, and at time of writing, it looks like there are copies still available, so jump on it quick if you’re interested. (The normal Compendium is an open edition, printed on demand from Blurb, so order it up at your leisure.)

The four issues of Serif & Silver include:

  • “Polaroids: Instant Photographic Prints 2010-2015”
  • “Artifacts: Past, Present and the American Roadtrip”
  • “Unchanged: The Moral Order of Negative Space”
  • “Sobremesa: On Translating Photographs”

Each issue opens with a brief discussion—memories, self-examination, some politics, etc.—that gives a bit of background for the pictures that follow. There’s no technical data. Instead, Matos gives some of the thought process and emotional space around the pictures and the particular issues he wants to address or explore: the series, the pair, the surroundings, and the sequence that hopefully adds up to a story.

Matos uses older cameras and expired films and whatnot. This is visible in the pictures and adds something, a sort of blur or patina of age that works with the subject matter: snapshot-aesthetic landscape; rural street photography; still life/product photography; city streetscapes. There are few pictures of people, and the people that do appear are mostly secondary to the landscape (to my eye, anyway): it’s more about the color and the light and the memories and emotions the pictures bring out in Matos, whether or not we get it or appreciate the same things.

If you follow this blog—and I suspect/know that you don’t: I have Google Analytics tracking clicks, so I have a pretty good idea of what readers look at and what you don’t—you’ll understand why I have such an appreciation for this work, and why I went and ordered up everything else Nate has for sale currently (4 issues of his newest zine Blandscapes and Littlefields #15, an interesting photoset/zine thing from Jim Clinefelter). Partly, I’m a completionist of sorts: I like to have complete sets of things. But mostly, Matos’s various projects (and his picking up and putting down of them) appeal to my photographic sensibilities and I hope to take some further inspiration from his work and process.

As a concept—which seems to be, in part, an attempt to just get the pictures out in the world—the 4 issues of Serif & Silver, and especially the Compendium, work pretty well. I’m sorry I missed the original productions, because it’s hard for me to think of or treat the issues separately, and I think I’ve missed some things as a result. The content is good: the photographs fit in with my aesthetic and mostly work. The design is fairly standard softcover book fare: the paper and printing quality are good enough, and the book has a nice heft to it.

Concept
Content
Design

Overal, I’d give it 3.8 stars…

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