by Davis Schneiderman
Jaded Ibis Press, 2015
The claim is that Davis Schneiderman uses ink “sourced from [his] blood” for the fine-art edition of his new book, INK. That’s what he claims, and I’m not sure if this is supposed to be provocative, or if we’re supposed to doubt the truth of such a claim, or whether we’re supposed to wonder what “sourced” could possibly mean in such an instance, but I don’t think it matters.
It doesn’t matter to me, at least, because—besides attempting to dismiss the idea of a blooded-ink in my paragraph above—I never thought about the ink in INK. or even looked at the ink in INK. Rather, I spent the whole of my time reading the book in an attempt to see into the ink.
What’s in there? I wondered at every page. At times there is an actual, for-sure something in there, a dark, hazy photograph of Schneiderman wearing his Inksuit—as he calls it—but usually it’s nothing much there. An atmosphere. A dark cloud. But within that atmosphere, what might it hold?
It’s a beautiful book, provocative claims dismissed by me notwithstanding. You are, nearly literally, drawn into the inks of INK. and held quiet there for a second, drifting or swimming about, until you turn the page. Each subsequent page is another moment of suspension, afloat, your eye seeing but not capturing, brain responding but not conceiving.
So, forget the ink and its claims. There are these better, more mysterious, more interesting things happening in the book. Though wait, is that fair? Are Schneiderman’s claims, actual or conceptual—and yes this book is a conceptual one—to be brushed aside so definitively?
Books are meant to be read, usually, but here there’s nothing to read. No words appear in the body of the book, just all this dark ink. So hey, for sure, we’re in the realm of the conceptual. Thus, in addition to looking at this book, it’s eerie and lovely atmospheres, we are meant to be thinking—conceptualizing—about it too, something about its ink.
And with that we talk about the ink, and the blood, and the dark, as well as something Schneiderman calls the “electronic publishing future.” That phrase appears prominently in his INK. press release and no doubt we’re to think about how electronic publishing uses no ink at all. “A book for the dark days ahead,” as Schneiderman says, by which he might as well say, the dark days ahead for books, for their actual, for-sure physical bodies.
So yes, I concede, the ink in INK., and maybe even its blood, is something interesting. Worth stopping the eye in its swimming, capturing something, maybe looking at the ink.
And with this thought I go back to the book again. But then again there I am again, flipping the pages, falling not onto the ink but into it, until everything fades into gray and grayscale. What’s in there? Something mysterious, beautiful, something I don’t know what it means.
So I don’t know, ink, maybe you’ve got to give it up. Maybe even here, in the conceptual, the thought, you are only the vessel. You are the shadow that hides, and keeps, the mystery. You are the pool into which argument sinks.