SMITH&BROWN AND SMITH&BROWN
Described by author Victoria Miguel as a novella about boredom, Smith&Brown is structured as a dialogue between two characters (the titular Smith and Brown) who seem to have no other reason for being other than waxing poetic about the disparate, yet connected, things that make up the substance of their minds. Smith and Brown, locked in a vacuum where only they exist, allow us to peek in on their mental gymnastics as they flip from the Dewey Decimal System to ransom notes to clock mechanics and a study on the perception of yellow.
As is apt to happen in real dialogue, vagaries can and do exist. There is no exposition, even the sexes of Smith and Brown are unclear, as they pick up on a string of complex conversations they have been having for what seems like years. To read their dialogue is to eavesdrop into a conversation that has never been and never will be, it is to observe a friendly game of mental fencing in which each is armed only with their perceptions and knowledge of beauty as each takes their friendly blows.
There are two ways of disliking art, Smith. One is to dislike it; the other, to like it rationally: reason is not the faculty to which it appeals. If one loves art at all, one must love it beyond all other things in the world, and against such love, the reason, if one listened to it, would cry out. There is nothing sane about the worship of art; it is too splendid to be sane.
I just don’t think that the painting goes with the wallpaper.
Really, truly, I am doing a disservice by writing about this book in such small terms. Page by page there is a thesis-worth of ideas and references that enrich, pull, and massage the brain. The best I can offer is that along with the launch of Smith&Brown the book, also comes the launch of Smith&Brown the publishing company, something with a mission statement a little more digestable: Smith&Brown publishing has a stated intent of releasing editions of experimental and non-commercial literature that mass market publishing houses have deemed risky and “unsafe.” This book is only the first of many, setting the bar high for each of the editions to follow. Additionally, Smith&Brown publishing has also taken active steps to work with artists, designers, and bookbinders, culminating in a book launch for the first Smith&Brown edition with a simultaneous exhibition by artist Matthew Lusk.
While many of you may not download and read this book, I really can’t recommend it highly enough. The world if full of easy, throw-away, formulaic media, so for those of you looking to refresh your minds, the launch of Smith&Brown is welcome news. This book will now be taking up prime real-estate on my bookshelf, so if you are looking for a challenge, give this one a shot, maybe read it twice, let it sink in.
In the meantime, check out these photos of the launch party with the exhibition by Matthew Lusk.