NewLights Press / Aaron Cohick, “What You Will”
Artist: NewLights Press / Aaron Cohick (Colorado Springs, CO)
Title: What You Will (2011)
Medium/technique(s): Letterpress from photopolymer plates
Edition size: 100
Number of pages: 44
Dimensions, open: 8.75″ x 8.75″ in
Dimensions, closed: 8.75″ x 4.375″ 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.
What You Will is a collaboration between the NewLights Press and the poet, printer & book scholar Kyle Schlesinger. The design and structure of the book are a direct response to Kyle’s poems — tall, narrow stacks of short lines that rhythmically build into modular “language-objects.” The book takes that principle of modularity, of rhythmic building, and extends it through the repetitive, temporal structure of the codex. The poems themselves are placed inside a black frame, the width of which is determined by the longest line on that page. To the left of each black column, the poem is printed in reverse (visually mirrored) in a transparent gray. Once a poem is printed in gray, it repeats on every page, and the text from each successive page is printed on top of all of the previous layers. Every previously read poem is always present, both in the vision & memory of the reader. The layering continues until the mid-point of the book (determined by the sequence of poems — it is not the literal halfway mark in the physical book), where the book in its entirety is printed in white on the black paper that forms the covers & spine of the double-signature pamphlet stitch. After that point, the layering moves in reverse — one layer of gray text is removed with each turn of the page.