Aaron Cohick, “The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press (second iteration)”
Artist: Aaron Cohick (Colorado Springs, CO)
Title: The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press (second iteration) (2013)
Medium/technique(s): Letterpress from photopolymer plates and collograph
Edition size: Unlimited
Number of pages: 20
Dimensions, open: 6.5″ x 11″ in
Dimensions, closed: 6.5″ x 5.5″ in
The NewLights Press is an independent publisher of experimental writing and artists’ books, concentrating on where the two can and do overlap. It was founded in Baltimore, MD in 2000 by Aaron Cohick, and currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO. All of the books are printed & bound “by hand,” using a variety of techniques, ranging from the obsolete (letterpress) to the utilitarian (laser printing) to the meditative (delamination). We try to maintain inclusive (& purposefully problematic) definitions of such mutable terms as “experimental writing,” “artists’ books,” and “printing techniques,” and to be similarly inclusive in the kinds of books that we produce. We believe in the actual use value of art objects as soft, temporary spaces in and against which individuals & communities can envision & articulate their relationship to, and shape in, the world. We are not searching for the Ideal Book—we are looking hard at & reading closely from the book-in-the-world.
The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press is an artists’ book that examines its own role, and the role of a producer/publisher of artists’ books more generally, in its immediate contemporary context. From the text itself:
[…] Now that the book is dead we can begin to divide up its remains. There is much work to be done. They used to say that the function of the book was to transmit information. Now they say that books are no longer the best way to do that, that computers and their strange, wireless spawn are the best way. They are right: a handheld device that can access any text from any place does a better job of delivering information. They are wrong: books and the writing-designing-printing- binding-distributing-reading of them have never been solely about delivering &or receiving information. They would also have you believe that you are, first and foremost, a consumer.
But the reader is both a consumer and a producer. The reader receives the text-book-art-object, and her reading takes it in, uses it up. At the same time she produces the text-book-art-object, putting its paths of meanings into play and driving them outward. The text-book-art-object is a unit of light, both particle & wave, energy transmitted, expended & still potential, waiting to be absorbed & re-produced in the reading. Energy creates energy. Production creates production. Production creates our shape in the world, is our shape-in-the-world in the movement-between of the world.
We are only beginning to see. Let the book-in-the-world sit strangely in your consciousness, let it dissolve and disperse everything that they said you are. In this world you will be disciplined or you will be destroyed. But you have the choice: be disciplined by the tasks of what you produce, or by the tasks of the things that are being sold to you.
What has already begun is the New Manifesto of the NewLights Press. It is a collection of thoughts on and of the book, of what it can mean to make books, to produce the book, now. […]
The New Manifesto is produced in an unlimited, iterative edition—the text-book is constantly reproduced, changing, being rewritten, palimpsested. Roughly 250 copies are printed in each iteration, but each iteration is part of the shifting, destabilized, unlimited edition. The New Manifesto is always new.