review: A CITY A CLOUD / Workman, Campbell, Brandt. 2006

A City a Cloud is a big sheet of 84×63 cm and is one of the dusie/e-chap project chapbooks. It opens as a poster and you could think to be supposed to hang it on a wall and start a sort of strange journey across the texts and the images spread over this one-page book, forming a kind of chess-board.

Actually, it’s hard to think about A City a Cloud just as a text over a sheet: the typographical and bibliological solution, conceived by Erik Brandt for this short collection by Elisabeth Workman, is something more than a precious and affected layout. On the contrary, it represents a lot of things and every aspect of it is necessary to read and “use” the work. As a review, I would like to point out at least two or three of those aspects.

First of all, this wide sheet, that you unfold as a map, and that actually looks like a map, is an hypothesis about what could be a book today, when technical knowledge permits some unusual choices, and a long training on electric media have taught us many ways of non-linear reading.

Secondly, it’s the adequate counterpart to the cumulative nature of both Workman’s texts and Barbara Campbell‘s images, where lists and stratification appear as primary rhetoric strategies. Campbell’s pieces rely on collage techniques to combine different images and parts of images and produce distorted panoramas and uncomplete topographies. On the other hand, Workman’s texts, cumulating details, scenes, statements, produce some kind of multiple interrupted speech on cities, representig them as a sort of huge heap of disjointed, juxtaposed, stray things.

Maybe, and this is the third thing to point out about this fascinating chapbook, A City a Cloud is also a question of where it is possible to set a borderline between literature and art, in a time, as nowadays, in which visual communication is paradigmatic and even printed words are seen as graphic elements.