On Occasion of the Plague
When the Pandemic started, like many people, I started reading books about the plague. Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year—while tedious—caught my imagination. So many of the things he described in London in 1665 seemed familiar. The rich fleeing the city, leaving their servants behind to protect and maintain their properties (and thus die from the plague!), strange ideas about the origin of the plague circulating wildly, and an odd precursor of doom-scrolling—a daily publication in the City of London of deaths— becoming a popular obsession.
Looking over the digitized books in the internet archive on the topic of the plague left me with the impression that there were a very large number of books written about the plague! Being fascinated by the history of typography, I started collecting the title pages of these books. One thing led to another, and I produced this little project of the bills of mortality printed opposite overprinted plague book title pages. During this process I discovered that one of the risograph colors in our studio is somewhat opaque, and that led to the cover.
History feels like a pile of old title pages: nothing human is really new, and this plague is either a re-run of an old story, or foreshadowing of something much worse.