Zine Review: Issue Five Conspiracy of Cartographers

I recently received several photo zines. One (or two?) was Conspiracy of Cartographers Issue Five. (Buy) Its two volumes (one color and one black and white) include photos and text covering three trips to the coulees of eastern Washington.

When most people visualize Washington, they see the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, the rain forests along the coast and, maybe, the flowing Tuscany-like wheat fields of the Palouse. They don’t think channeled scablands or dry falls. That’s too bad, for there is incredible power and beauty in these places.

This photo zine is an excellent way to introduce yourself to this incredible area (or remind yourself that it is time to return). I was particularly moved by the photos of the collapsing house and rusted pickup. Like movie props, but not.

The writing is simple and clear. There are no wasted words. We walk along the basalt cliffs looking for a way down to the lake. He tells us and shows us. He writes:

“As I stood above the coulees, Swift’s darted about me. Diving and pitching, wings whirring in the still afternoon air, their backs, the iridescent green of yearlings, shimmering in the sun.”

“For now, I turned back. I had taken several 4X5 sheets and a roll or so of others. Once back in the car, I swapped out the Intrepid for a tent and a sleeping bag, loaded up the pack again and made my way down into Dusty Lake Coulee. That small plain of land at the head of the canyon called to me.”

Here’s a screenshot of one page of the color volume:

While I am not an expert (not even a novice) I will attest that the production value of this zine is high. The paper is heavy and feels like it will last; fitting for its subject, the ancient coulees and basalt of eastern Washington.

I’m anxious to receive more work like this. Until I do, I’ll follow along on Instagram