7.5 × 13 × 1 in
Electric Tulips 5.1, 2015. Letterpress. Edition of 50. 32 pages. 13x15x.375-inches open
13×7.5-inches closed. Housed in a clear plexi-glass case.
Electric Tulips 5.1 was conceived as a dialogue between an imaginary literary critic and the poet, Philip Gallo—and revolves around the writing and presentation of Gallo’s poem, Electric Tulips 5.1. The essay, Future Preterite, by the esteemed critic Alessandro S. Stompanado is intended to emulate an essay by James Joyce. Written under the pseudonym Vladimir Dixon, which appeared in the Sylvia Beach publication of 1929, Joyce writes an appreciation of his own novel, Ulysses. The essay? Our Exagmination Round His Factiﬁcation for Incamination of Work in Progress.
As such the book is a multi-layered pastiche of both literary and typographic treatments along with a tour-de-force double gatefold presentation of the poem in eight colors. Each of the seven stanzas are in a separate color and the seminal tulip in an eighth; the type all set by hand and printed letterpress from Permanent Headline Open from the now defunct foundry Ludwig & Mayer.
The essay, reflecting directly from the poem, moves from the serious to the comic, ranging from discussions of type and handling of individual characters to musings on the deconstructive possibilities of paint-by-numbers; to comparisons of landmark works such as Mallarmé’s Un Coup de Dès and Crises de Vers; and the pairing of Wordsworth’s “poetry is powerful emotion recollected in tranquillity” to a computer nerd’s Read Only Memory; to the reduction of a painting to stroked outlines in Illustrator.
As one of the major themes of the book is the effect of anachronisms, the printer did not feel obliged to print the entire book from handset metal type. In fact, the essay was set on the computer from Eras, one of the first typefaces to break the lead ceiling, being available in both metal and digital format. The result is a book that blends the handset with the computer-generated. In its entire production it seeks to reconcile the anachronistic.