Talking a Blue Streak

I know enough about the Cleveland mimeo scene to be dangerous or, more likely, to look stupid. But in light of publications like In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955 and Artists' Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art, it is clear to even the most clueless that you have to go to Cleveland if you are looking for support for the idea that mimeograph publications are art or artist mags.

Thanks to Jeff Maser for encouraging me to get a copy of Dialogue In Pale Blue by rjs and tl kryss, "printed" by Broken Mimeo Press in 1969 in an edition of 200 unique copies. The story goes that rjs and tl kryss were in possession of all the supplies needed for a mimeo collaboration but the mimeograph broke down, leaving them with a mess of paper and no way to get it messy with print, so they decided to correspond with each other through alternate cutting and pastings of blue paper onto blue paper.

When I showed a copy to my wife, she chuckled and made a comment about the emperor's new clothes, and as I first flipped through it I was struck by the silly desperation of it. Here were rjs and kryss all dressed-up with supplies but nowhere to go as far as printing. The book is mimeo without the mimeograph: the pale blue paper refering to the blue of mimeo stencils, paper and ink.

Yet as I looked at the book and thought about it some more, things seemed a bit more serious, full of references to high art, and not just a stoned joke. The first thing I thought of was origami. Then quickly thereafter concrete poetry. Cleveland is THE location for the intersection of mimeography and the concrete. da levy and the mimeograph revolution makes this argument so well that I will not repeat it in detail here.

As a Burroughs collector, Dialogue in Pale Blue struck me as a cut-up collaboration of sorts like Burroughs' work with Gysin in The Third Mind or his interplay with editor Jeff Nuttall in My Own Mag. Burroughs was very much interested in chance and coincidence as it relates to collaboration and conversation, which gets one thinking of the collage work of Hans Arp, particularly his chance collages that rhyme with the cover of Dialogue in Pale Blue. See Arp's Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance above.

rjs and tl kryss are surely talking blue or maybe just talking a blue streak because there is something obscene and obscure in the nakedness of this book. Not surprising given that the poets and printers of Cleveland were masters of generating a lot of layers from publications that on the surface seem rather stripped down. Dialogue in Pale Blue maybe the most striking example of this phenomenon.



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