1999: edition of 30 plus 1 AP
197 x 140 mm; 64 pp.
Black laserprinted images overprinted with polychrome letterpress. Bound using an adaptation by Charles Gledhill of the seventeenth-century limp vellum form and wrapped in a folded black cloth.
The wings from ‘The Word Returned’ are married to a short poem, or chant, to Agni, a fire god to be found in the next title, ‘PANTHEON’, which was in progress at the time of printing this book. The poem also records the spread of forest fire by the flight of ‘birds aflame’ who fall and ‘ignite the awaiting bush’. The poem builds to the middle and is reversed towards the book’s end.
This small book is an experiment in marrying the stabilising varnishes of letterpress with the flightier process of laserprinting. Letterpress ink of good ‘fastness’ or longevity printed on acid-free paper can guarantee a long life of visual and physical integrity. Inkjet and laserprinting technologies at present give no hard and fast promises of that longevity, although, at the time of writing, inkjet is constantly improving its claims. As an experiment I have laserprinted images in black while assuming that, were it to decay, it would be because either it materially fell off the surface of the page, or it had a photo-chemical reaction to light.
That the ink, or toner, was black and held within the fairly constant darkness of the closed book seemed to me to cope with the latter possibility; printing letterpress inks and varnishes over parts of these images may take care of the former. The test will be what falls off what, and what otherwise vanishes within what blink of eternity.