A visual conundrum of incalculable mystery. —Martin Parr, The Photobook: A History
In 1977, photographers Larry Sultan (1946–2009) and Mike Mandel (born 1950) published a book that would radically transform both photography and the photobook canon—a book described by Martin Parr, in The Photobook: A History, as "one of the most beautiful, dense and puzzling photobooks in existence, an endless visual box of tricks." Sultan and Mandel sifted through thousands of photographs in the files of the Bechtel Corporation, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, the US Department of the Interior, Stanford Research Institute and a hundred other corporations, American government agencies and educational, medical and technical institutions. They were looking for photographs that were made and used as transparent documents and purely objective instruments—as evidence, in short.