A New Title from eyeglass books.
Three years in the making, this book is an experiment in close collaboration between a writer and four visual artists who together take a stab at capturing the zeitgeist from Left Field. This is no prophecy of Doom or New Dawn but a groundling’s view of the theatre of cruelty which currently passes for everyday life, and some pointers to what might lead us into a better social dance, for the enjoyment of the many, not the precious few. The book takes the form of three notebooks which explore different aspects of our once and future time, with the text being visually notated in full colour double page spreads:
‘Dreaming through Lockdown’ is a dream diary registering the impact of Covid pandemic on the deeper reaches of their author’s imaginative life. ‘Precious Objects, Precarious Signs’ is an illustrated catalogue of a domestic cabinet of curiosities whose meanings have become the subject of intense debate between their present and future interlocutors. ‘Random Stories’ contains excerpts from a digi-diary posted by a ‘tweenager’ in 2042, trying to make sense of growing up in a chaotic and repressive future world dominated by Chinese influencers.
The notebooks are framed by two short essays, an introduction examining the new uncertainty principles we are now forced to live by and an epilogue drawing out the existential implications for present and future generations.
The book can be ordered through EYEGLASS BOOKS.
Phil Cohen (text); John and Jacob Wallett (graphic art); Meghanne Barker and Jean McNeil (Photographs).
‘This is a spellbinding book – full of wonders, nightmares, precious objects, broken treasures, glimpses of catastrophe. It looks back on lockdown, and tries to show us what living in a time of fear was like. It is a dream notebook, in which a writer and a trio of visual artists strike sparks off each other. The writer, Phil Cohen, has a strong politics, but what is most moving about his report on the pandemic is the way it stays close to the feel of things and refuses to sum up. The text remains dense with allusion and challenging in its speculative argument, but the book’s structure allows – invites – the reader to sample and, crisscrossing, following the cues and clues offered by wonderful images.’
‘What an imaginative and engaging response to the privations of the first Covid lockdown in 2020 when people were physically isolated and had to develop ways of coping with ‘social distancing’. Phil Cohen gives a glimpse into some of his quirky dreams from this period, into the new significance of old and valued objects, together with imaginary musings and conversations with and from the future. The wonderful drawings, photos and other artwork bring this innovative work to vivid life.’
‘Part pandemic dream diary, part graphic cabinet of curiosities, Phil Cohen’s personal history of the future breaks all the rules of auto-fiction and political polemic. This is what one hopes for from an anthropologist sympathetic to the many forms of magical thinking: masks, mechanical toys, optical illusions, bricolage and the moral utopia of children’s play. Beautifully illustrated, elegantly referenced and formidably erudite, there are countless pleasures for those who roll up and step inside.’
‘Congratulations on sculpting this text from the chaos of the moment: terrific vigour and momentum. This is certain to become a collector’s item.’