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Day #15/365. The Twilight Language Of Nigel Kneale

Day 14-The Twilight Language Of Nigel Kneale-Strange Attractor-A Year In The CountryFile under:
Trails and Influences: Touchstones.
Case #6/52.

Well, what can I say. A journey into the world of Nigel Kneale, his cathode ray seances and risograph printing…

Mr Kneale seems to have travelled with me a good while and reappeared in my life again relatively recently: previously it was mostly in printed form which I read as a child – I was mildly obsessed by the crumbling future Britain and science fiction leyline mystery of the final Quatermass chronicles. I seem to remember I  purchased fmy copy of the book from the bargain paperback section of my local newsagents, picked from in amongst the more mainstream pulp fair that was on offer (it seems slightly incongruous to include the cover of that below next to the fine design work of The Twilight Language)…

Day 14-Nigel Kneale Quatermass book-A Year In The Country…and the Quality Comics / Hammer Halls of Horror adaptation of one of the Quatermass stories which I read has always mildly haunted and slightly worried me…

Curiously though I think it was only relatively recently that I started to explore the aforementioned cathode ray seances of Mr Kneale (The Stone Tape being of particular note in my journey through A Year In The Country but more of that in a later post).

Thinking about it, in a way this book has helped complete a circle from printed form to the siren call of the screen and back to the printed form (hmmm, scratches beard and ponders).

The Twilight Language Of Nigel Kneale was published to accompany a one day event in New York, which strikes me as a curious and intriguing place for this most English of scribes to have been taken to heart: possibly his work seems particularly exotic when viewed from afar?

A quick precis of the text of the book: it’s a set of essays, conversations etc produced in response to his work and features Sophia Al-Maria, Bilge Ebiri, Mark Fisher, William Fowler, Ken Hollings, Paolo Javier, Roger Luckhurst, China Miéville, Drew Mulholland, David Pike, Mark Pilkington, Joanna Ruocco, Sukhdev Sandhu, Dave Tompkins, Michael Vazquez and Evan Calder Williams…

…what has drawn me to it in particular though is that the book feels very precious, it’s something that I pick up gently and tenderly. There’s something very, um, real about it. I think in part this is because it was printed using the Risograph technique which gives it a very tactile and matt finish.

Risograph printing is essentially like a digital version of screenprinting rather than traditional lithograph printing; ink is pushed through plates and the effect is something that feels very human, less clinical and nearer to art than most printing mass reproduction technologies I have seen. I’d not consciously come across this process used in a tradtional book form before and as a sometimes screenprinter it quite fascinated me.

What adds to this is the design work by Rob Carmichael, which is just exquisite and I think perfectly captures and reflects the spirit of Nigel Kneales work in a contemporary graphic form. Quite, quite lovely. Tip of the hat to you Mr Carmichael.

But wait, that’s not all. The book also came with a cassette tape (yes, those again) featuring specially composed work by The Asterism, Emma Hammond, Hong Kong In The 60s, Listening Centre, The Real Tuesday Weld, sometime Jonny Trunk collaborator/Ghosts of Bush House creator (more of that in another post) Robin The Fog and Misinformation-ers Mordant Music (more of that I expect in a later post – I seem to be saying that quite a bit on this page)…

…the insert to the tape is Risograph printed as well. Attention to detail and all that.

Day 14-A Cathode Ray Seance-The Haunted Worlds Of Nigel Kneale-A Year In The CountryBut wait again… in the package, unexpectedly was a Risograph printed poster for the A Cathode Ray Séance: The Haunted Worlds of Nigel Kneale event that the book accompanied. Blimey. All this for £16.99 (and shipped from the US). A bargain indeed.

Unfortunately (or fortunately as it’s nice to know it’s wandered out into the world) it’s now sold out, although a standard edition may be released.

Read more about the book at Strange Attractor.

View Rob Carmichaels page of his design work at Seen Studio.

A quite extensive article on the event and Nigel Kneale at frieze.


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