Excerpt: Magazine
"The Unknown Photographer," Letter to Jane: Issue 01

And just like that, it’s 1991 all over again: The economy is down, unemployment is up, and 20-somethings in the Pacific Northwest, facing diminished postgraduate prospects, are pouring their energy into small, independent ’zines. We were recently introduced to a new one out of Portland, Oregon, called Letter to Jane. With interviews and features on the likes of Passion Pit, Yoko Ono, and Hedi Slimane, it fits the ’zine mold to some extent, but it’s elevated by the singular vision of Timothy Paul Moore, the 25-year-old photographer who devised and designed the project and whose ethereal images comprise more than two-thirds of the 180-page book. “I got my BFA in photography from Oregon State about two years ago and was completely clueless because no one had ever told me how to get into a magazine, only how to make a print and get into galleries,” Moore says. “About six months ago I decided I wanted to do my own thing, and I started asking people for help.”

The magazine is an accompaniment to Moore’s blog of the same name, both taken from the 1972 film by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, in which the filmmakers volley back and forth, deconstructing a single news photograph of Jane Fonda in Vietnam. “The film itself is boring,” Moore says, “one or two photographs and a tape recorder. But I like how it boils the medium down to its pure elements, image and sound.” Like a film, Moore’s magazine creates a sustained moment by choosing subjects and other photographers whose aesthetic is in line with his own and by making the magazine mostly a series of conversations between creatives.

Our favorite bit is something Moore calls “The Unknown Photographer,” excerpted here in part. “For my birthday, my mom gave me these boxes with about 200 slides in them,” Moore explains. “They were pretty wrecked, emulsions cracking, dirt all over them. I knew they weren’t going to last, so I decided to gently scan them in and start restoring them digitally. It was the hardest part of the whole magazine.”

“The Unknown Photographer” is excerpted from Letter to Jane, Issue 01, with permission from Timothy Paul Moore. Click here to download the magazine.

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“About a year ago my mother gave me three rusty boxes for my birthday.”

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“Upon opening them I found that inside lay some amazing photographic slides from some man’s travels in the 1950s.”

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“I tried to find out where they may have come from but it was no use.”

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“As my mother put it, she stopped at some random garage sale and out of the corner of her eye she saw a couple metal boxes laying in the man’s garden.”

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“The man didn’t really know where they came from and had picked them up from another sale years earlier.”

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“A little discouraged, I started the task of trying to restore these gorgeous images as most of the film was dirty, cracked, and the colors were fading.”

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“As I began this process I soon stopped caring about the real story behind them and just started to enjoy them for what they were, a window into a world that no longer exists.”

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“It no longer mattered what this unknown photographer was thinking while taking these images, it only mattered what I took away from them.”

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“What I have shown you is not the entire collection, nor is it a finished project.”

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“What I have shown is a complete thought, a complete picture, a complete viewpoint.”

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“There is no telling what these photographs originally meant, but it’s not hard to come up with a new meaning today.”

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Letter to Jane Magazine: Issue 01

Download Timothy Paul Moore's new magazine Letter to Jane here.