This ur-typical Roma publication simply had to be included in the category high-quality, severely designed photo books. The dust jacket contains only images and no typography, which is entirely appropriate to the abstraction and sensory experience of the landscapes depicted, 30 metres under water. The unadorned deep blue inner cover is also highly effective in this respect. We can now definitively state that the combination of designer Roger Willems and artist Nicolas Floc’h is a good one, as here once again they bring out the best in one another in this probing picture book.
The thickness of the grooved dust jacket is exactly right and obscures the fact that here again we have a book with a sewn and glued spine. The last section is a little loose, probably as a result of not quite enough glue being used. This however is a minor detail in an otherwise immaculate whole. It takes a true master of the art of bookmaking when editing this many images to capture precisely the required subtlety in just two bled-off images. In spite of the repetition of monomorphous images, never does this become monotonous or dull.
In fact, allowing yourself to become submerged in this quantity of photographs genuinely emulates the sensation of diving. One member of the jury, an amateur diver, said: ‘The deeper you go under water, the more you lose the sense of colour. If you want to really experience the red of the coral, you have to shine extra light on it, as red is the first colour that disappears.’ The decision to print the book entirely in duotone reinforces the sense of tranquillity. Colour is irrelevant here, and its use would have resulted in a very different, less seductive, book if it had been simply printed in CMYK. Whereas now, the focus remains purely on the photography and the details.