Note from the Editor: When I first contacted Crane about being a part of the Small Press Database, he wrote back saying: “I just want to clarify that Pocalypstic is basically just me, Crane. It’s a more or less a monochre. I don’t publish anything/anyone through Pocalypstic other than my own artist books. It’s not a vanity press; it’s simply an imprint I use for my art.” He said that if this didn’t cohere with my and Entropy’s vision for the series, to let him know.
I hadn’t known this about Pocalypstic; I hadn’t thought about it before with regard to the series either. I decided to include Crane’s press because it shows the logical extreme of what a “small press” can be: a single person putting together his own books in editions of less than five. The way Crane put it, “Ultimately I think it might be a good opportunity to talk about the relationship between a press and artist books, and since I come at this art through poetry there’s a solid linguistic dimension that’s activated through all my work.” That works for me. —DJS
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Interview with Crane Giamo, Builder of Pocalypstic Editions
How did Pocalypstic Editions start?
In 2009 I started putting the name Pocalypstic on my hand-built books. It’s a double pincer: an imprint functioning as a pseudonym.
Tell us a bit about Pocalypstic Editions. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
Because I still reside in the physical world, Pocalypstic is about materiality; it’s warping unconditioned materials into conditioned artifacts; it’s about tactility; it’s about handmade paper, letterpress printing, binding with thread and glue; it’s about collecting debris and transforming it into something serial and sequential through the temporal and spatial constraints offered by the codex; it’s about enacting non-conceptual experience and enhancing limitless human perception; it’s about awareness of the relations of labor and taking hold of the reigns of book production–the entire spectrum–without outsourcing any element in the chain: from the inchoate idea for a book, through stages of design, preproduction, and production, to a fully fledged object; it’s about being comfortable with the inability to pry apart the form of a book from the content within; it’s about putting a human signature into a mechanized press; it’s about acts of building that don’t require anchoring myself to a blueprint, just seeing how things happen and reacting to what’s happening on the press and maneuvering in ways which could never have been foreseen; it’s about giving up on asserting myself between myself.
Recent influences are artists working with language and poets working with images. Like Robert Barry and Wallace Berman.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
The work happening these days is being done in the dirty, inconsistent, wild mode of incunabula printing: over and underinking, experimenting with inks, viscosity and additives on inconsistently formed sheets of handmade paper. I like the wilderness of that early stage of letterpress printing and book production, prior to typography’s standardizing influence and how guilds/companies corralled radical imperfect expressions. I’m into small edition sizes these days, 5 at the max. Limiting the output intensifies the building process and turns the work into a fluid and off-the-cuff performance, and in that way I can begin to shed some of the circumscribed pathways set out before me by the organizing principles of letterpress automation. I’m also into waste and debris: collecting objects that appear in my day to day environment, inking them up in the bed of a press and printing off of them. And, I’m trying to think through ways to float books that are non-conceptual human experiences.
What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
Cultivating dialogues with other presses mitigates power struggles and competitive impulses which interfere with human relationships. That’s the ethical part. The economic part is that presses operating below the commercial radar are having their vinyl moment, especially artist books; they’re providing a necessary counterweight to the intensification of immateriality brought about by the digital economy. It’s nice.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Pocalypstic Editions?
Pocalypstic thinks this labor is sacrificial. Pocalypstic will continue to cope by breathing in regular intervals with its feet on the ground.