MAI 1968 NOWis a 7x4" letterpress printed postcard book of Situationist International slogans from the May 1968 uprising in Paris, reinterpreted for the 21st century.
The Paris uprising of May 1968 was the moment that philosophy and political theory took to the streets. Situationist International inspired graffiti appeared all over Paris – often directly quoting Guy Debord and Raoul Vaneigem – providing a (frequently wry) critique of society and advanced capitalism.
Although the unrest was soon dispelled the ideas were much more difficult to destroy, and now seem oddly prescient. For example in Society of the Spectacle (1967) Guy Debord wrote that we had become passive consumers of our own lives – through media and advertising – and that “all that was directly lived has moved away into a representation”. Sound familiar?
And these ideas keep resurfacing – fuelling the development of punk in the 1970s, and more recently Adbusters and the Occupy movement. Cynicism and boredom is deadening acceptance. It’s time to “Yell! Create! Look in front of you!”
There are twelve 6x4" postcards to tear out and send (or keep within the book) plus an explanatory page of text. Letterpress printed on GF Smith 350gsm colorplan stock, perforated and bound with two brass postbinding screws.
The postcards are also available individually if you would prefer to keep the postcard book intact! The book is available to buy now via my Etsy shop and the individual cards will also be available to buy at the beginning of July. (You're quite right.... the Situationists would not have approved!)
p.s. Some of these slogans may feel familiar to you even if you haven't come across them before... that is exactly the point. Greil Marcus in Lipstick Traces wrote: "You already know, the situationists had answered: all you lack is the consciousness of what you know. Our project is nothing more than a seductive subversive restatement of the obvious: 'Our ideas are in everyone's mind.' Our ideas about how the world works, about why it must be changed, are in everyone's mind as sensations that almost no one is willing to translate into ideas, so we will do the translating. And that is all we have to do to change the world."
Update 24 June: "That is all we have to do to change the world." Following the result of the EU referendum this quote feels impossibly naive. I can't believe that that such a bitter, populist, misleading campaign has led to Britain voting to leave Europe. So what good is a postcard book of slogans from 48 years ago? But reading through the MAI 1968 NOW cards again I start to feel hopeful again. They question how we live our lives today, and whose rules we choose to live by. They call out the inequality and what is happening to the environment. They open a door to a different way of being, and they leave it up to us to decide what that might be like. And that's what gives me hope. And hope is better than despair.
For an Agreement of the People
A letterpress printed contemporary reimagining of 17th century political pamphlets, calling for a people-led written constitution for the UK.
A pamphlet / concertina mashup, with poem and explanatory text by Angus Reid; designed and printed by me.
The book is printed using various wood types, and with the poem and a quote set in 16pt Centaur, and explanatory text in 10pt Grotesque 215. Cover is 350gsm colorplan, flyleaf is orange Zerkall Ingres and the text pages are 140gsm Fedrigoni Arcoprint Edizione.
It started with an outbreak of jellyfish... It really did in fact!
The Œ ligature was much more widely used several decades ago - mainly in anglicised Greek words such a 'fœtid' and 'diarrhœa' and 'phœnix'. Now these ligatures are only used in French words such as 'œuf' so these ligatures gather dust in the corners of typecases, doing nothing. While sorting some wood type one day I noticed two at an angle and imagined them as sea creatures. Then they seemed to morph into space invaders.... and then there was no stopping them!
The wonderful thing about these ligatures is that they have been so neglected that their edges are crisp and sharp, making them a joy to print.
It started with an outbreak of jellyfish...
"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n" says Satan in Paradise Lost by John Milton. There's a reason this book is chained!
While the Œ ligature book started with an outbreak of jellyfish, the Æ ligature book started with a black serpent of uncertain origin, whose intentions seemed malevolent... I suspected that he may have had something to do with the Garden of Eden, and after some research discovered that he was indeed the original master of Alternative Facts himself, from Paradise Lost by John Milton. ie Satan.
Reading Paradise Lost for the first time was a revelation. Like Shakespeare it is full of quotes! Things half-known and half-remembered. What is so incredible is how visual the text is, and how accessible... at least in small chunks. It was exciting to discover that Milton invented the word "Pandæmonium", meaning Satan's city in Hell – the place of all the demons. The perfect place for an Æ ligature serpent to dwell.
The passage quoted in this book comes from Book X of Paradise Lost, and is the moment when Satan returns to Pandæmonium to boast of his success in persuading Adam and Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. But all he hears in response is hissing, "the sound of public scorn". And soon all he can do is hiss too, as he is turned back into a serpent "punished in the shape he sinned". Milton's description of this transformation is extremely graphic and directors of Hollywood werewolf movies could definitely take notes.
I must confess that I find the idea of the master of Alternative Facts losing his voice extremely satisfying. For me this is a political book, a response to the EU referendum of 2016. And while I wouldn't go so far as to equate the Garden of Eden with the EU, I believe that we will lose far more than we gain during the process of Brexit. But I must also confess to having a secret admiration for the Satan in Paradise Lost. He really does get some great lines...
It was interesting to discover that Milton wrote many political pamphlets in his time, and was a strong advocate for the commonwealth and an apologist for the regicide of Charles I. He could have been executed for this once Charles II was crowned, but fortunately he escaped that fate and was able to write Paradise Lost instead – an extraordinary feat as he was blind by this time. Milton's daughters deserve a great deal of credit...
Pandæmonium is letterpress printed using wood Æ ligatures and metal centaur type, on 180gsm Fedrigoni Materica (acid free). The boards are 1.5mm millboard, covered in hahnemuhle bugra butten. It was launched on 1-2 April 2017 at BABE at the Arnolfini in Bristol.
Paradise Lost by John Milton was first published 350 years ago, and to celebrate this anniversary James Freemantle organised an exhibition called Paradise Lost and the Private Presses between 16 August and 30 September 2017. Pandæmonium was included in this exhibition.
In March 2018 Pandæmonium won the Oxford Guild of Printers’ prize for best book under £50.
Wood type as ornament
This started out as an idea for journal covers. I have a large quantity of 10 line grot condensed wood type. I was thinking of printing patterned covers and seeing the massed wood letters reminded me of metal border type (decorative type used to make patterns and borders). Why not put them together in lines and make an ornamental piece? It seemed like such a simple idea, but bringing each and every piece up to type high took many hours. The printed stock did indeed make lovely journal covers, but in fact I think I prefer them as posters.
Print isn't Dead!
The death of print has been grossly exaggerated! This print was made using 12pt and 10pt monotype border type, set in a modified version of Arcade, by Pizzadude. It was originally printed to celebrate the launch of People of Print's magazine Print isn't Dead.