1.04.2016

HEY REMEMBER WHEN I USED TO WRITE REVIEWS ON THIS SITE [Advance Review]


Now Nowhere (Self-Published)
Printing @ www.perfectly-acceptable.com
Ordering @ www.elevatorteeth.com

Now Nowhere is the type of sophomoric work I’m tempted to give a negative review because at first glance it can come off as obtuse, pretentious, or even cloying. When I slow down and absorb it, I realize that superficial reading would actually belie its rather fundamental strength. The world of (self-published) small press is full of navel-gazing ingénues addressing existential dilemma, self-prompting with entry level philosophical questions that only lead to more questions. Now Nowhere rises above these mundane offerings because it pushes further and begins to address the reconciliation of purpose. It doesn’t just ask the “Why?” but becomes a wise self-aware exercise in “Why Ask Why?” which is infinitely more interesting.

My favorite moment in the book, though I admit I’ve grown weary of specific “moments” in life – for reasons I will explain shortly, is a page that posits “Don’t Worry. This Is Part Of The Process.” That’s a motto I could easily live by. It infers the old adage about life being a process, a cycle that flits and renews, the proverbial journey, the lack of destination, the lack of fixed place, no illusion of fixed moments, no “where” as the title suggests. We are all time travelers in a sense, we’re all moving perpetually through a non-linear construct, chrononauts of the infinite. If you’re always looking ahead to the fleeting promise on the horizon, or backward toward the lie of nostalgia, you’re never living the present, doomed to the life of a temporal refugee.
 

The book opens with a blue grid pattern teasing some order to things, but quickly devolves to chaotic questions, decrying the very nature of reality with clever wordplay. For example, “The Things We Are” and “Are We?” appear wrapped textually as one sentence, but are interrupted by smart panel design and color choices that separate the words into two parts, implying a sort of call and response that uses the medium very effectively. The duality of man is represented with the primal colors of red and blue, overlapping shadow imagery echoing in the manner that practitioners David Mazzucchelli and Dash Shaw used respectively in Asterios Polyp and Bodyworld to illustrate our sense of fluctuating reality. The figures in Now Nowhere always give the illusion of motion, they’re always traveling, entering and exiting, pulsing with life, one action bleeds into the next and is rarely accompanied by fixed borders.

Now, I’m in a rare position where I know the identity of the artist working under the online pseudonym elevatorteeth. You too can see odd bits of street art and stickers littered around certain San Diego haunts if you know what you’re looking for. While it’s not my place to divulge the information I’m privy to, I will say that I’ve consumed snippets of the artist’s older work-in-progress, and in true elitist hipster fashion, I can say I prefer the older stuff. The artist’s work of just two or three years ago is full of hand-drawn textures and raw patterns that seem to undulate with an odd sexuality. Imagine thousands of areola swaying together in off-kilter unison, their rhythm never quite coalescing, wantonly teetering just on the edge of order.

Thankfully, traces of that dynamic linger in Now Nowhere, some of my favorite parts involve the attempted resolution of chaos and order. Consider the shots of a wall of bricks, from a distance they are neat and orderly, but zoom in for closer inspection and the more fractured and damaged they become. The bricks in the wall are no different than the various components of our life, a job, a friend, or a lover, our reality is always susceptible to enhanced scrutiny and disappointment. That’s not the point. The point is to revel in the beauty of it anyway. While Now Nowhere might sacrifice the raw determination found in the artist’s earlier work, it hums with vibrancy, there’s a cohesive confidence to these new lines that is less random and hesitant. It’s as if the artist finally worked out the non-linear narrative they wished to express.

Now Nowhere is self-published as a two-color risograph and was printed at Chicago’s Perfectly Acceptable Press, but you can easily imagine it at home in a lineup from Sparkplug or Uncivilized or 2D Cloud. It’s an accomplished aesthetic that understands the deceptively simple notion that in life, things happen. Sometimes in sequence. Sometimes not. Sometimes there’s causality. Sometimes not. Sometimes they occur unexpectedly, or not in the way we anticipated. There’s ebb and flow, beauty in mistakes, and as the Hawthorne Effect postulates, we change something just by looking at it or touching it, the interaction leading to a new divergence of multiple possibilities. Now Nowhere embraces this limitless quality instead of being stymied by it, it favors chaos theory in life, beginning and endings in a constant state of flux. There is lack of a divine plan; there is only the process. There are simply events, reactions, and motivations all crashing together to create the spectacle we navigate moment by moment.

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