NewLights Press is committed to integrating new techniques with the older. As their website states, they are committed to “the intersection of artists’ books and experimental text/image//making.” NewLights Press uses a letter press along with digital printing seeing the latter as an extension of the former. Additionally, NewLights Press uses sewn binding in many of their books while also publishing works, such as This/Days No. 2, that can only be appreciated on digital devices. This/Days No. 2 along with their edition of The Collected Books of Jack Spicer exemplify the two poles of their technology. The Collected Books of Jack Spicer is a letter pressed book printed on off-white near yellow paper with a yellowed cover demonstrating a retro aesthetic. A book that shows the intersection of the two poles is Book 1: The Movement-Image which uses sewn binding and pictures reminiscent of late nineteenth to early twentieth century photography along with hard angled lines and arrows that remind the observer of our ever digitalizing culture. NewLights Press comments on technological change’s influence on books and the books’ influence on us in The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press: “The book is a dangerously unstable object. . . . From the book we gather the scraps of ourselves—the shabby, mortal, sagging, staggering things that we are. . . . We will continue to fail. The book will continue to fail. But there is always the next thing, the next page, the next day.” NewLights press is aware of the fickle illusion of comforting stability.
The visual piece pictured above is an attempt to capture at least some respect of NewLights Press. As I pointed out in my post, Aaron Cohick says, “I think that we are living through another transitional period, culturally, politically, and economically, and that meanings that we have taken for granted are once again being contested, and that there is an enormous amount at stake” (319). Because our period seems to be attributed to general anxiety over several changing aspects of society, I wanted to reflect NewLights Press’ embrace of the new. Most of the visuals are inspired by Book 1: The Movement-Image where the lines and the old photograph come from. Additionally, I wanted to use a font very similar to that used in several of their books like that found in Splitting/Debt, but it seems to be a font unique to NewLIghts Press. The vertical text is inspired from Splitting/Debt, however. Overall, my goal was to present an anxiety and integration of the old and new – an attitude that is present in NewLights Press.
“Aaron Cohick: NewLights Press,” 2012. A Poetics of the Press, edited by Kyle Schlesinger, Cuneiform Press & Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021, pp. 310-21.
NewLights Press website. “About.” NewLights Press. https://www.newlightspress.com/about. Accessed Oct. 24, 2021.
3 thoughts on “A Creative Response to NewLights Press”
I love your line that “New Lights Press is aware of the fickle illusion of comforting stability.” Your visual demonstrates the tension between fickleness and stability, even between illusion and reality, really well. I am drawn in by the haunting image you use and how you blend the sepia of the picture with the brown/black text and off-white, near yellow (as you write) background. Your color choices alone demonstrate that simultaneous blending and separation which seems to characterize New Lights press, as do the computer-type fonts placed alongside and even over top of a clearly antique image. There are so many fascinating elements to your visual!
I think your piece really does show the mix between older and new like the goals of the NewLights Press. The background looks almost like aged newspaper pages. But then you see it contrasted with the futuristic lines and font in the main like of text. Great job on that!
And it’s definitely interesting to see both presses and people working with changes we are and have been through. Especially since I’ve heard it sometimes describes by others as feeling like a new historical moment happens every day nowadays. We are definitely feeling the effects of a changing world. Hopefully, one that changes for the best.
I think it is super cool how you chose to “present an anxiety and integration of the old and new” as an approach to the work of New Light Press. The book cover you chose definitely solidifies this, with the older style font and designs mixed with cultural modernity. It’s a very interesting clash and between two opposites that creates a very striking piece.