Arrivals at The Institute: Robert Hampson / Crater Press


At The Institute we were very pleased to be sent a copy of Robert Hampson’s new publication ‘Out of Sight’ from the lovely Crater Press. The artificial highs of Robert Hampson’s noir on overload are given the appearance of having been captured as if only in passing by R. Parker’s elegant design of the page.


This artful and far from hapless slippage initially serves to emphasize the apparently found nature of the material; as if a “poisoned computer” had taken over from the printer/designer and the writer/poet and gone on a rampage in “search for authentic experience” through every pulp novel and straight to TV film that ever featured stocks and walk-ons of the “FBI agent”, the “alien”, “serial killers” and inevitable “police-corruption”. At first the recognition of these elements provides us with a neat distance from which to survey the scene but it is also content that Hampson is clearly fond of and he knows that this complicates any pretense to disinterest and so objective distance. The text is fraught with potential corrupt or poisonous selves: “mirror-images” that the self termed “I” in “freefall” must dodge like bullets to avoid being either corrupted by or identified as: “a bank robber”, “a man working on a chain gang”, “a small town bully looking for a fight”, “a stoned professor of creative writing”. Each representation, predictably glassy on its own terms, offers up the false promise as well as a denial of identification. The text evokes a knowingly flimsy fantasy of what resistance to all forms of identification might be like. What’s at work here seems to be how to avoid co-operation or reduction to either the “self-involved absorption in the annihilation of the ego” or by implication its inverse; the self-involved absorption in the representation of the ego.

The design draws attention to the power that this elusive ricochet of cliche upon cliche has to skew itself off its own axis with its own delusions towards any ‘true’ form of self-representation. This is I take it its own nod and more than a wink (shove? surely not?) to recent outputs in the fields of conceptual (ohthanksforremindingmeIwasOUTOFMYMINDIhadn’tnoticedthat) writing and creative (not yoU Too?) writing.

Robert Hampson, ‘Out of Sight’, Crater 21, August 2012, Brighton. ISSN 2041 0948