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Liver and lights no.30 thirty people 2003 second edition blue cloth hardback Jamie Kesavan The Liver and Lights book series started in 1983 by three friends from an art school, Stephen Jaques, John Bently and James Blundun. They had collaborated together before on two books and a film when they were still students in the late seventies. They were inspired by many artists including artist manifestos like Blast and Die Blue Rieter and Punk. Even though the living conditions they had in there slum flat in Herne Bay, they were still able to construct prototypes of the early Liver and Lights publications which were manifestos containing over heated opinions.

    John Bently struck out on his own and created his first book in Deptford, Liver and Lights No.8 , ‘The One True G’Love’. This was more of a campaign than a book as it was for exhibitions and performances, in which he created a character called Joe Soake, a voice for local homeless people to show a different perspective on our uncaring world. He then made a collection of paintings and writings to constructed a book of found objects from his life, ‘a beer can and a fingerless glove’ relics from his life. He had feelings that the book could metamorphose into infinite shapes/ art forms. This is when he found his place, he made books specifically for galleries, as interactive installations and as community projects. He liked to experiment using different materials and methods. He brainwashed himself in books which is something every creative has to do in any type of career. Liver and Lights No.14 ‘ The book of discarded things’ was a edition of 100 entirely made from rubbish, bringing a new dynamic to how we read we can read different objects.

The idea behind the book Liver and Lights No.30 Thirty people. (2003) was a collection of overhead conversations for a year, thirty were picked and from how the conversation went the designer would imagine a portrait of the person speaking. A chronicle of London lives, it is a experiment of the collaboration between speech and imagination. Could possibly be used in exhibitions or given out on the streets or on public transport, some interesting reading material for the average person to pick up and rad on there way to work. The skills it expresses would be the creative freedom we are all given but not all of us use due to the fact that our imagination is limited to what we believe we can do. The process wouldn’t be as simple as just asking the first 5 people the interviewer sees, it would be a dynamic rage of people from upper class to lower class, women and men of all ages and sizes from different backgrounds to get more interesting interviews. The visual side of this book is very playful and experimental, as its never going to be accurate its quite fun to see how this designer perceives the person being interviewed. We do see a lot of emotion shown through the dramatic colours shown through the facial features while the rest of the face remains pale and timid.

I think the designer wanted you as the reader to feel the person being interviewed raw emotion at the time, through the boldness of the text and image on the page. He wanted to shift the reader into the person being interviewed perspective, so that they can understand the connection between the portrait and the speech from the person. Liver and Lights No.27 ‘Concerning the poetry of lost things’, he didn’t like what he found on the streets, Harrow council banned it from their libraries. It didn’t stop John from producing one hundred entirely different book structures which contain one hundred slightly different versions of the same poem. John then carried on his live poetry circuit with an inspirational composer called Harvey Eagles in the nineties but for the last few years he had been collaborating with musicians known as Afterrabbit with Alan Outram, Phil Outrum and Ollie Briggs. Together they performed the books he created. For Liver and Lights No.37 they asked people to make instruments out of rubbish to perform with them on stage and many of them did. One of the beneficial sides of this book activity has been the creation of a loyal community of loyal subscribers who fund the books for nothing but a heartfelt thanks. The loyal community of subscribers inspired them to take Liver and Lights to issue 43 books in twenty six years. John mentions he still has many ideas in his mind he is aching to try, even though some of the books have been a mix of blinding success and abject disasters he will keep going until he dies.


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