by J. Drucker
Not sure, exactly, but I believe Gary Meres had very little to do with the production. It was mainly done by Seana Biondolillo and Brad Freeman, out of shared enthusiasm generated when they found the manuscript.
by J. Drucker
typographic: As a cut-up work the book has a variety of typographic styles, each specific to its printed source text.
imagery: The imagery comes out of westerns and pulp fiction, science fiction, weird tales and adventure stories. It is all very much in the pulp genre, though the skill of those illustrators was quite phenomenal.
graphical: This book has a comic book feel, because of panels and page subdivisions and the amount of visual information in the montages and juxtapositions.
openings: The first opening puts the inside cover next to the first page of the first pamphlet. The image on the left is of a Cowboy smoking, stance casual, one hand on the smoke, the other heading into the pants pocket in the space between waist belt and gun belt slung below it. The right hand image is of a flayed man, as in an antomical drawing, showing his circulatory system. The two figures are the same size and scale, and placed on the pages in the same way. Behind the cowboy is a field of microscopic organic forms. Behind the flayed figure, a combination of planets and bloody patterns that could be bone scans enlarged or could be more planets up close. In every one of the openings, a clear choice has been made to get the two sides of the opening to talk to each other. In some cases, this is simply the effect of repeating a grid pattern or approach to the layout. In others, figures are actively challenging or communicating with each other.This is a highly dramatic, theatrical approach to the openings.
turnings: Every turning shifts the tone. There is very little continuity from turning to turning, so we move through one dramatic change of color, scale, treatment after another. This further emphasizes the attention to the openings.
development: The first pamphlet is largely image based and titled "The Reign of the Ghost." The second pamphlet has texts and images, but the texts run in lines under grids of small images, and so don't form large paragraphs. That pamphlet is titled, "Shadow Zone." The final pamphlet is titled "Dead Man's Trail," and it is the unit that contains the most text. It is also nine sheets (36 pages) instead of five (20 pages) like the other two.
sequence: All kinds of sequential aspects are evident in visual rhymes, repetition, and so on, though the shift in scale within the final pamphlet as texts change size is probably the most immediately striking.
textual: The text is a cut-up from pulp originals and has the hard-hitting vocabulary and aggressive blunt force of these, but blended into a wild imagination. "The town appeared deserted. THe citizens were all dead something cold and old and dirty hanging down in the dark that was blacker than sin crazy damn cannibals he mumbled."
structure: Just that this is a pamphlet trilogy.
conceptual: The tension between high art experimentation and low culture source material is striking.
intratextual: Image and text relations are equally charged by the pastiche and collage approach so that they talk to each other in a variety of ways. The presence of the pulp illustrations keeps the cut-up text grounded in a popular universe.
As an example of cut-up, collage technique, this is one of the true extreme and eccentric examples of how the approach still works as a cultural analysis. The ways Meres uses the language and images creates an unmistakable portrait of American culture through its popular past. But the more striking aspect of the work is its challenge to the categories of high modern purity, and the impossibility of sustaining older categories of high and low. While these practices -- cut up and also the challenge to high/low distinctions -- were a commonplace within postmodern art production, the edge remains unblunted in Meres's elaborate undertaking. The sheer scale of accomplishment in his word-by-word and tiny image grid collages is enough to inspire respect. But the content of the work is what makes its technique so striking since they integrate perfectly to create a field of unreconcilable but generative differences.
Dead Man's Trail
citizenship: United States
location: Atlanta, Georgia
edition type: editioned
publisher: Nexus Press
place: Atlanta, Georgia
edition size: Not indicated, but certainly several hundred.
note: One of the last books produced at Nexus Press. [J. Drucker]
horizontal: 5 1/2 inches closed
vertical: 7 inches closed
binding: saddle stitching (AAT)
binding: other Wrapper is not attached to the three individual pamphlets that form the three parts of the book.
other materials: None.
general description: About the size of a pocket book or paperback, printed in color on text weight coated stock, the book is attractive but dense in its appearance. The three distinct units that form the trilogy are folded into a paper wrapper cover.
format: pamphlet (AAT)
cover: Cover is color printed on the same text weight as the interior. Title is in yellow drop-out stencil lettering.
Dead Man's Trai, by Gary Meres; Production by Seana Biondolillo; Offset printed on the Heidelberg KORD at Nexus Press by Brad Freeman. Director-Brad Freeman, Assistant Director-Many Mastrovita; The digital film for this book was produced through the Institute for Electronic Art (iea) at Alfred University, NY and imageset on a SelectSet Avantra 25 S provided by AGFA corporation. Copyright 2002 Gary Meres.. ISBN: 0-932526-96-9. Nexus Press, a programming division of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, is a multidisciplinary facility commited to promoting experimentation, eucation and excellence in the visual, performing and book arts. Nexus Press is supported in part by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum Services, the Georgia Council for the Arts, the Fulton County Arts Council-Fulton County Commission, The City of Atlanta-Bureau of Cultural Affairs, The Metropolitan Arts Fun Atlanta and Accenture.
exhibition history: Complicit! exhibition, University Art Museum, Charlottesville, VA Fall 2006
manuscript type: mockups
note: It must be somewhere.