This morning, so no time to write!



“A book is a flexible mirror of the mind and the body. Its overall size and proportions, the color and texture of the paper, the sound it makes as the pages turn, and the smell of the paper, adhesive and ink, all blend with the size and form and placement of the type to reveal a little bit about the world in which it was made. If the book appears to be only a paper machine, produced at their own convenience by other machines, only machines will want to read it.”
–Robert Bringhurst

“I want to be a machine.” –Andy Warhol

How can the emergent texts and practices of postmodernism in the visual arts (minimalism, pop, conceptual art, etc.), in which the artists’ book had its beginning as an “art genre,” be used to re-evaluate the artists’ book and push it toward a productive, generative, and/or critical fusion with contemporary art & writing?

Is it possible, given the current state of criticism in the field of bookarts, to come up with a working theoretical model, for use by a working artist, that can account for producing different “types” of books (“artists’ books” vs. “fine press books,” etc.)? Is a theoretical model even needed? Should artists maintain or cultivate an ambivalent attitude towards those categories and just see what comes out? What comes first, the theory or the work?

How does the Book Arts vs. Artists’ Books discussion fit into, or follow the lines of, the art/craft discussion? Is it just a specialized version of that argument?

Is there only “good craft (well-made)” and “bad craft (poorly made)?” Or are there “other” modes of working within the terms of craftsmanship that open new subjective categories?



Here’s an old one:

Beth Staples & Aaron Cohick

Delaminated paper

14” x 11”

Edition of 35

Done as a part of the Visual Text Project, a print exchange portfolio featuring collaborations between visual artists and writers.



A few changes have been made to the Et Al. submission guidelines, specifically:

A limit has been placed on the number of images that can be submitted: no more than 5.

A limit has been added to the “Other” category of submissions: up to 3. It should also be noted that “Other” submissions are just as open to change as the other types, perhaps even more so, as they will each require serious logistical planning and negotiation.

A more specific publishing schedule: if the first issue, “Material,” comes out by the end of this year, let’s say November or December, then the fourth and last issue, “Potential,” will be released a year and a half after that, May of 2011.

All changes listed here have also been written into the original post, so all information is consolidated.




Et Al. is an experimental journal focused on the possible intersections of the literary and visual arts. It starts from the idea of an “arts journal” as a (non)site of the collective production and reception of meaning; one object, in multiple, built from multiple inputs and transmitting to multiple outputs. While traditional journals operate by reproducing text and images as discreet entities centered around a common theme, aesthetic direction, or author-function, Et Al. will be built on the principle of active production and the legible intersection(s) of text, image, typography, material, printing processes, and the temporal structure of the book form. Each issue of Et Al. will be, in essence, an artists’ book of rhizomatic (non)authorship, textually, visually, and structurally.

Et Al. will consist of 4 issues, to be published at the theoretical rate of 2 per year. Each of the four issues will have a theme: 1) Material, 2) Structure, 3) Production, and 4) Potential. Submissions will be accepted on an ongoing basis (with a “soft deadline” for encouragement), and the individual issues will be considered filled when enough material condenses around that potentiality. The rough (ever subject to change) publishing schedule:

1 MATERIAL: November 2009
2 STRUCTURE: May 2010
3 PRODUCTION: November 2010
4 POTENTIAL: May 2011

The nature of this project requires that all contributors give up “absolute control” of how their work is presented (an illusion anyway). What this means is that images may be cropped, flipped, halftoned, overprinted, etc. and that text may be cut, interpolated into another text, disarranged, typographically disrupted, and/or spread across a series of pages. That being said, part of the process for the preparation of each issue will be an opportunity for each contributor to work back into their piece or pieces in its new form (details below). Submissions of fragments, unfinished, totally bizarre, or “what the hell do I do with this?” pieces is encouraged.

Submissions of all types of visual, textual, and literary art will be considered. General guidelines for the different types below:

IMAGES: This category includes text as image. Keep in mind that these images will undergo (probably black and white) graphic reproduction. Submit no more than 5 images as digital files, JPEGs of 300 dpi at 100% of their original size. While email submissions are preferred, files over 8 MB should be sent on a CD (mailing address below). Ideas and suggestions for how the images should be used are welcome.

TEXT: Submit 2-5 pages of proofed writing (poetry, prose, fiction, scholarly, critical, what-have-you) as a Microsoft Word or PDF document. Ideas and suggestions for possibilities of the how the text can be formatted are welcome.

OTHER: Submissions for specific interventions into the form of the journal will also be considered (example: safety pin these 3 printed images onto the upper right corner of a page). You may submit up to 3 different proposals. Logistics for these types of submissions will be negotiated with the individual contributor, and each will probably have to change (at least a little) to fit into the overall structure of each issue. Please keep in mind that while we here at the NewLights Press are known for labor-intensive work, there is actually only one of us, and he has other things to work on too.

All submissions should be made via email to newlightspressATgmailDOTcom. Please use “Submission: Et Al.” as the subject line. Attach all submissions as separate files. Be sure to include the following information in the body of your email:

Your name
Your mailing address
Your email address
Which theme you are submitting for: (Material, Structure, Production, and/or Potential. Multiple theme submissions are okay.)
A little bit about yourself (if we don’t know you already) and relevant web links to see more of your work. The idea here, ultimately, is the growth of a community. Links will most likely become part of a simultaneous electronic announcement at the time each issue is published.

Mail physical submissions (only if you have to, and be sure to include the info listed above) to:

NewLights Press
601 William St. # 413
Oakland, CA 94612

Decisions as to what submissions will be included will be made as soon as they can be, but final decisions cannot be made until each issue begins to take shape. Some pieces will be accepted immediately to form the basic skeletons of the issues, others will need to be marinated and tenderized before they are ready. All responses to submissions will be made via email.

As each issue draws closer to publication, each contributor will have the chance to revise their piece(s). All contributors will be sent a PDF proof of their piece as it stands in relation to the rest of the journal, and they will have the chance to make edits (or suggestions of edits, depending on how drastic) before the pieces are committed to print. We want all the contributors to be both surprised and pleased by the final form that their pieces take.

(A brief editorial aside: A valid question at this point is: “You expect all of the contributors to give up “absolute control” of their work, but what you’re doing is taking that control for yourself. How is that sharing?” The answer: Yes, we agree, and that was the main theoretical problem we had to face when thinking this thing through. We hope to lessen our own control through the following means: 1) letting contributors respond to and rework their pieces after initial formatting, 2) opening the submissions to the “Other” category of structural interventions, and 3) by soliciting the input and help of other printers and bookmakers in production. If there are any volunteers for such a task, please let me know.)

10-20 contributors will be included in each issue. The journal will be produced in editions of 100-200, using a combination of letterpress, digital printing, collage, and hand-mechanical painting/drawing on a variety of materials. Each contributor will receive 2-3 copies of the issue that they are in.

Did we forget anything? Questions? Comments? Please use the comment option below.

The deadline for submissions for the first issue, “MATERIAL,” is May 31st, 2009. Thank you for your time and interest.



I've been spending most of my time this week reading and thinking, as is usually the case immediately after I finish a big push. My main goal for the coming weekend is to put together all of the necessary information to get started on the aforementioned "journal," and so that all of you can start to think about contributing...



For all you folks in the Bay Area, the Pacific Center for the Book Arts is now taking reservations for tables at its annual Printer's Fair. The Fair will be held on Saturday, May 9th, from 9 AM to 4 PM at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The tables are reasonably priced, and although I did not go last year (was out of the loop, apparently) I have heard that it's a lot of fun. I sent in my table reservation yesterday...

With Codex, this PCBA fair, and the San Francisco Zine Fest, that makes 3 fairs just this year. The Bay Area is a good place to be a book person.



This morning I sent off my entry for the MCBA Prize. Below are some images from the book, followed by a formal description:

The work presented here, (De)Collage, is the latest in a series of sustained, rigorous engagements with the idea and form of the altered book. The original book was Collage: The Making of Modern Art, by Brandon Taylor (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2004), a beautifully illustrated and in-depth survey of the role that collage (as well as the related principles of assemblage and appropriation) has played in the development of modern and postmodern art. The alteration enacted on the book is one of massive excision—all text and images were systematically removed through delamination, a technique of cutting through just the surface layers of a sheet of paper and peeling them away. Only the ascenders and descenders of the text and a thin band of the outside edges of the images remain. A new text has been added, through the delamination of stencilled letters, at the bottom of each page, running into the gutters and around the fore-edge. This new text is built on the same principle as the rest of the book; it was “written” by removing words from the original text.

is, mainly, a meditation on discursive form and the strange, unstable image-text-object nature of the book. It takes as its starting point the “moment of collage,” that moment when, through the simple, rebellious act of gluing a piece of paper into a painting, art began to split into the two dominant discourses of the 20th century: hermetic, formalist modernism (that piece of paper makes the picture plane apparent, the formal nature of the medium is emphasized) and open, multiple, post modernism (that piece of paper, found and stuck to the surface of the picture, brings the rest of the world into the conversation). The act of excision in (De)Collage is an act that bends both of those discourses back into each other. The ideal, two-dimensional picture plane is exposed as a three-dimensional object. The radically inclusive, surgically specific bricolage of the art historical images and text is reduced to a series of abstract signs and traces. A simple act of deconstruction brings both discourses back into play.



1) “The only literature is voluntary literature.

If I may refer to the henceforth famous dictum in Odile, we can add to this notion the considerable consequences resulting from the fact that: The really inspired person is never inspired, but always inspired. What does this mean? What? This thing so rare, inspiration, this gift of the gods which makes the poet, and which this unhappy man never quite deserves in spite of all his heartaches, this enlightenment coming from who knows where, is it possible that it might cease to be capricious, and that any and everybody might find it faithful and compliant to his desires? The serious revolution, the sudden change this simple sentence introduced into a conception of literature still wholly dominated by romantic effusions and the exaltation of subjectivity, has never been fully analyzed. In fact, this sentence implied the revolutionary conception of the objectivity of literature, and from that time forward opened the latter to all possible modes of manipulation. In short, like mathematics, literature could be explored.”

2) “Deep thanks to Richard O’Russa and Situations Press for the republication of several pages from O’Russa’s Elastic Latitudes. The section “Zeros and Ones” was written directly out of a process of copying the pages of Elastic Latitudes, a typewriter-written poem made entirely of the numbers 0 and 1, into duplicate lines with the numbers spelled out. By the end of each page I would be in a trance-like empty state and write what turned out to be all the poems that make up that middle section.”

1. Jean Lescure, “Brief History of the Oulipo,” Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature, ed. Warren F. Motte, Jr. (Illinois State University: Dalkey Archive Press, 1986), 34.

2. Anselm Berrigan, Zero Star Hotel, (Washington D.C.: Edge Books, 2002), copyright page. This quote is from the thanks/acknowledgements section.



So I’ve been giving serious thought lately to the idea of starting a literary/art journal (or a literary art journal.) Evidence of this thought process is right here:

The initial idea, heavily influenced by/stolen or adapted from Wallace Berman’s Semina, was to create a journal that was open in form—to print the contributions on a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of paper and issue each subscriber a 3-ring binder in which they were free to arrange the “issues” of the journal as they liked. The idea, then, is to put some of the material and editorial control, those things that I get to enjoy all the time, into the hands of the subscriber. But I don’t think I like that initial idea, and here’s why:

It won’t really work that well. I bet, despite everyone’s best intentions, that all of the various pieces of paper would just sit in their envelopes, looked through but once, and the binder would never be filled. It would be one of those things that would fall by the wayside for most people. I probably wouldn’t be able to keep it up. One solution to this problem would be to do maybe only 4 issues, and have them released in a pretty rapid succession, in order to sustain the energy and engagement. Maybe. But then that’s 6 months to a year of commitment just on that piece…

The second reason I don’t like that idea is because it relies on the old technique of “I, the artist, so special, will give you, the viewer, so pedestrian, a chance to access my unlimited and god-like powers. If only you could be like me!” What would the subscribers’ gain from being able to arrange their own journals? This is a small world we operate in, so half of them would probably already be running a journal of their own. Other than that, it would only be a mildly fun activity, partly a chore, and they would only buy into the process if they simultaneously bought into my authority, but the point of doing this kind of piece would be to undermine and question that authority. But any questioning cannot occur this way.
So the idea must be adjusted.



Books are living things. Thus:

1. the action of cutting into or dissecting a living body.

2. the practice of subjecting living animals to cutting operations, esp. in order to advance physiological and pathological knowledge.



Were not this blog this morning. Thanks for bearing with me.



A few notes on this fine morning:

The artist Nick Deford has put up a new website. He uses the word “hand-mechanical” in his artist’s statement. I plan on writing about that in relation to Nick’s work, which I like very much.

Laying plans for an essay for Mimeo Mimeo. About “bad printing.” Should be fun.

I am undecided about Watchmen (the movie).

The text for (De)Collage continues to grow. Latest draft:

The method of constructing from parts. It is the synthesis of colourless, white or grey-black areas of colour, or the arrangement of unexpected proportions. Written in the graphics of a powerful weapon aware of the very different demands of concluding that the system of montage is dialectic. It is a statement, after all, that neither Klutsis or Lissitzky could have made; nor Heartfield or Hoch, “Lyricism is the crown of life: Constructivism is its already existing soft-porn surfaces, even, on occasion, a castrating machine. Yet the most persistent motif is one that only collage as a device could generate: the softness of parts not only indexically presented but eroticized as a purely photographic contrast of textures: grass, gravel or wood, inside barbed-wire, in the midst of dry leaves, or, in one case, inverted on the body and placed against the austere brick superstructure.

Such works not attempted hitherto: the minutest visible variations in photographic color and tone, magnified by the tell-tale curves of the paper’s scissored edges. By systematically excising one and placing it against a subtly contrastive one, an interval, a gap, which is in itself stimulating. ‘It is sight’, he had suggested, proposing desublimation of the senses: ‘The optical environment in which ‘the development of a bland, large, balanced, Apollonian art…in which an intense detachment this detachment that enabled him to see a Cubist collage by Picasso or Braque in a radically anti-illusionistic way: ‘the Cubists always emphasized the identity of the picture as a flat and more or less abstract pattern rather than a representation’.



(pulled from the New Manifesto of the NewLights Press)

The processes of building the book, as a unique object or as a multiple, give way to a particular mode of production. These processes, such as typing, setting lead type, stenciling, stamping, folding pages, sewing signatures, are repetitive and machinelike, but they are performed by a person, by hand. They are hand-mechanical. Such processes can be found in and can inform any other artistic discipline as well, as seen in printmaking in its broad sense, painting/drawing (as in the stripe paintings of Frank Stella and the wall drawings of Sol Lewitt), the fiber arts (crocheting, knitting), and even writing (the “uncreative writing” of Kenneth Goldsmith).

The idea of the hand-mechanical draws the making of books away from the preciousness of the “handmade,” of the consummate taste/skill of the master craftsperson (vestiges of authority there), and towards the literality of industrial processes, without losing the methodical rigor so valued in the book arts and so necessary to independent production.
[…] “Meaning” partially or totally converted into “use” is the secret behind the widespread strategy of literalness […]. The narratives of Kafka and Beckett seem puzzling because they appear to invite the reader to ascribe high-powered symbolic and allegorical meanings to them and, at the same time, repel such ascriptions. The truth is that their language, when it is examined, discloses no more than what it literally means. The power of their language derives precisely from the fact that the meaning is so bare. […]



This morning I started to write the text for the altered book that I am working on. The book, called (De)Collage, physically functions on the principle of delamination. I am slowly removing all of the contents from the book—images and text, leaving behind just the 1/16” inch strip at the outermost edges of the images. I will be adding new text as well, also built on a subtractive principle, the same method used by Lauren Bender in her Dictionary Poems—words are crossed out from the original text, and what is left behind is the new text. The first two sentences:

“the method of constructing from parts. It is the synthesis of colourless, white or grey-black areas of colour, or the arrangement of unexpected proportions.”

These kinds of writing practices, based in the idea of collage, provide a different sort of interaction with language than “traditional” writing. These methods are not new—they first came into the wide literary discourse with the “cut-up” work of William S. Burroughs in the 1960s (though the idea was certainly implemented before that)—but they are fundamentally different from, and thus provide different results than, “normal” modes of writing (what I’m doing now). To quote the book artist Emily McVarish (who uses collage-based writing in her work), these processes “externalize” language, they separate language from the voice and from the interior monologue constantly droning in our heads. This externalization makes language new, and strange, even abject sometimes. Its material aspects, its rules, its pieces, its weird physicality (the actualization of language through writing/reading(language exists in time)) becomes readily apparent. Methods like these, as well as methods based in randomness and/or constraint, help the writer to see their habitual relationship to the words that they write. To see a process, to see one’s position in it, is to be able to manipulate it.



This morning, 28 copies of the New Manifesto of the NewLights Press, 1 copy of the Movement-Image, 1 copy of the Drownable Species, and 1 copy of The Collected Books of Jack Spicer all went out in the mail. Things are moving...