Words Without Pictures was conceived by curator Charlotte Cotton and artist Alex Klein as a means of creating space for thoughtful and urgent discourse around current issues in photography. Every month for a year, an artist, educator, critic, art historian, or curator was invited to contribute a short, un-illustrated, and opinionated essay about an aspect of photography that, in his or her view, was either emerging or in the process of being rephrased. Each piece was available on the Words Without Pictures website for one month and was accompanied by a discussion forum, which received both invited and unsolicited responses from a wide range of interested parties—students, bloggers, critics, historians, artists of all kinds, and so on.

All of these essays, responses, and provocations were previously issued as a print-on-demand title; Aperture is pleased to present Words Without Pictures to the trade for the first time as part of the Aperture Ideas series.