Varioussmallfires.co.uk is a website edited by Thierry Bal, established in 2011.

It is the home of the ‘Glass of Milk’ series of essays on the roles and functions of photographs. How are photographs strategically used? What role(s) have been assigned to them by the photographer, the viewer or society?

In each essay one image from any source is investigated by the commissioned writer.

Various Small Fires and Milk is a 1964 publication by American artist Ed Ruscha. A sequence of 15 images depicting lit matches, cigarettes, a gas stove burner, a blowtorch, a highway flare, etc… are followed by a final plate depicting a single glass of milk. Challenging the logic of classification systems, and attempting to redefine the role of photography, this artist’s book stands as one of the defining contributions to photobook publishing. The images it contains are testament to a playful yet thought-provoking approach to photography, put to use to encourage viewers to engage with a new set of possibilities for the medium.