At the beginning of November (before the existence of this blog) the NewLights Press (finally) released The Drownable Species, which features a never-before-published-in-its-entirety short story by Brian Evenson, and image-object manipulations courtesy of NewLights Press: Aaron Cohick (writing this post). The specs: 48 pages, hardcover, printed and bound by hand. The text is letterpress printed in Palatino from photopolymer plates on Somerset Book Heavyweight Wove paper. The images are individually hand manipulated inkjet prints, made by printing on top of gesso (which keeps the ink from absorbing into the paper and drying immediately) and then pouring water, ink wash, and/or more gesso on top of the still wet prints. Variable edition of 40 plus 10 artists’ proofs. The image here shows the title page spread.

This was a really fun and interesting project to do. It was definitely the most complicated book that I’ve produced in an edition to date. I worked on it, off and on, for three years. (Brian was very patient the whole time—he never asked me when it would be done. But when it was, finally, he flew out to Baltimore for the release reading.) The challenge of the book, as with all of the collaborative books that I do, is how to make the book in such a way as to a) make it as strong as the writing, b) make it integrate with the writing in an interesting way (form and content), and c) make it connect to my broader concerns as an artist (production and reception). Generally, fulfilling requirements “b” and “c” lead to the satisfaction of requirement “a.” Things start to work really well when requirements “b” and “c” are fulfilled simultaneously, with a single, unified approach. So with this book I got to use an appropriate image and image-making process for the story (a man’s face/photo, water damage) (requirement “b”) and have that image-making process open out to broader concerns in the field of artists’ books—ideas about proper design (transparency vs. objectness), the preciousness of the handmade book, the “lack of physicality” of digital printing, chaotic systems/variable editions, and hand-mechanical processes (requirement “c”).

33 books remain for sale, at $400 each. Contact me at newlightspressATgmailDOTcom if you’re interested in purchasing a copy. There will eventually be a PDF version of the book released.

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