Leonard Koren Taking a Bath, published on the occasion of
Leonard Koren and Guests, Dec 4-15 2018, by Boy Vereecken @La Loge, Brussels

From 1972 through 1976 Leonard Koren worked as an artist creating bath events, unusual bathing environments, and paper works about bathing—including the fold-out book 17 Beautiful Men Taking a Shower and the silkscreen print “23 Beautiful Women Taking a Bath.”

In 1976 founded WET: THE MAGAZINE OF GOURMET BATHING, one of the premier avant-garde publications of the 1970s, based in Venice, California. WET’s contributors included many promising young talents such as Matt Groening, Matthew Ralston, and April Greiman.

Burned out on magazine publishing, shut WET down in late 1981 and began a series of sojourns to Tokyo to work on music videos for Japanese television.

From 1983 through 1986 produced a twice-monthly column titled “Dr. Leonardo’s Guide to Cultural Anthropology” for BRUTUS, a popular Japanese lifestyle magazine.

In 1984 wrote and designed New Fashion Japan, a book about the world of Japanese fashion past and present. Stimulated by the book-making process, continued to make more books: 283 Useful Ideas from Japan (1988), an illustrated compendium of Japanese product, service, marketing, and communication ideas; Graphic Design Cookbook, Mix & Match Recipes for Faster, Better Layouts (1989), a taxonomy of useful basic graphic design structures and forms; The Haggler’s Handbook (1991), an easy-to-read, easy-to-remember guide to everyday negotiating; Noise Reduction (1992), a simple, generic, how-to meditation guide; How to Take a Japanese Bath (1992), a picture book; and How to Rake Leaves (1993), an illustrated reflection on the evanescence of life.

Silkscreen, B/W, 84,1 x 118,9 cm
€50 @La Loge, Brussels

“… brought me Here”
Boy Vereecken @Maniera, Brussels

A meme is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture—often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme, it acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

Proponents theorise that memes are a viral phenomenon that may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance, each of which influences a meme's reproductive success. Memes spread through the behaviour that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.

The word meme is a shortening of mimeme coined by British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catchphrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches. Kenneth Pike coined the related terms emic and etic, generalising the linguistic idea of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexem, and tagmeme, characterising them as insider view and outside view of behaviour and extending the concept into a tagmemic theory of human behaviour. Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesised that one could view many cultural entities as replicators, and pointed to melodies, fashions and learned skills as examples. Memes generally replicate through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient copiers of information and behaviour. Because humans do not always copy memes perfectly, and because they may refine, combine or otherwise modify them with other memes to create new memes, they can change over time. Dawkins likened the process by which memes survive and change through the evolution of culture to the natural selection of genes in biological evolution.

Baseball cap, various colours and names on request.
€50.00 @Maniera, Brussels

Boy Vereecken (Ed.)
Signature Strengths

When first introduced, mass-market paperbacks sparked a publishing revolution. Critics despised them as lowbrow diversions, which did not impact their popularity. But the business model barely worked. Prices were so low, the books needed to sell in incredible numbers to make a profit. An industry norm emerged to pump up sales, whereby most of the novels were wrapped with images of women in provocative settings and states of undress. Many readers were duly provoked to purchase, but this recurring allure eventually lost its sway.

Simultaneously, an opposing theme of essentialism was asserting itself in grocery stores. The No Frills brand presented goods in unadorned packaging. It was as if the very intention to sell had been excised from the label’s straightforward design and terse declaration of contents—SALAD DRESSING, FRUIT PRESERVES, LAUNDRY DETERGENT. No Frills stripped the cloying appeal of traditional marketing and replaced it with a candid offering of canned beets and corned beef, pure and plain.

Inspired by this direct approach, Terry Bisson and art director Frank Kozelek developed the No-Frills book series in the early 1980s. Signature Strengths, conceived and edited by Boy Vereecken, reproduces in full the four books published in the series—Western, Mystery, Science Fiction, and Romance—as well as critical evaluations of the fascinating experimental endeavor in genre writing and mass-market publishing.

Introduction by Mark Mann
Co-published with La Loge, Brussels
Design and Editing by Boy Vereecken
October 2016, English
19.5 x 26.5 cm, 112 pages, 8 color ill., softcover
ISBN 978-3-95679-258-8
€15.00 @Sternberg Press

Boy Vereecken (Ed.)
Herewith the Clues

The interwar period has come to be known as the ‘Golden Age’ of Detective Fiction. Though the ‘whodunit’ flourished as the predominant style during those years, it was taken one step further in the four Crime Dossiers produced by J G Links and Dennis Wheatley between 1936-39. A highly successful experiment in detective fiction (over 120,000 copies of the first episode Murder Off Miami were sold within six months), the Crime Dossiers invited the reader to actively partake in the investigation. Yet, from the outset, critics were unsure whether to classify the dossiers as fully-fledged books or as ‘good games’. Wheatley himself, however, remained firmly convinced that he had created “a new era of crime fiction”.

Though the Crime Dossiers bear some resemblances to the ‘solve it yourself’ Baffle Books by Lassiter Wren and Randle McKay, Wheatley's approach is more radical in terms of its intricate production process and purist design, mimicking the loose leaf folder one would expect to find lying on a detective’s desk. Each dossier was a stripped-down version of the popular detective novel. The dossiers abandoned devices of narrative elaboration, presenting the reader only with facts and clues to solve the murder mystery: generic crime scene reports (telegraphs, newspaper articles, letters, testimonies) and even physical evidence sealed in cellophane envelopes like locks of hair, cigarette butts, and poison pills.

Following Signature Strengths (2016), Herewith the Clues is the second instalment edited and designed by Boy Vereecken, focusing on yet another fascinating episode in genre fiction and publishing. Comprising reproductions of a selection of materials included in the Dennis Wheatley Crime Dossier series, the book highlights the series’ ‘forensic’ aesthetic and essentialist approach to fiction, while critically examining the assumed legibility of its images.

Short story by Shumon Basar
Captions by Laura Herman
Co-published with Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna
Design and Editing by Boy Vereecken
Photo’s by Antoine Begon
December 2018, English
21 x 26 cm, 40 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-3-95679-442-1
€15.00 @Sternberg Press