Vanessa Holyoak
I See More Clearly in the Dark

Published by Sming Sming Books

ISBN 978-1-953189-10-3
May 2023, English, 5 x 8 in, 162 pages, b&w, softcover
Design: Sming Sming Books

I See More Clearly in the Dark chronicles the experiences of a narrator referred to only as “I” as she wanders a dystopian near-future drained of life-sustaining darkness—the kind that Japanese novelist Juni'chirō Tanizaki imagines "beneath trees that stand deep in the forest." This ethical and ecological desecration is lived out simultaneously by a parallel “I”: an amorphous, prehistoric or posthuman body, living and dreaming in a lush and tenebrous wilderness. The government has decided to wipe out national forests to install brilliant, homogenous resorts in which citizens are obliged to live under conditions of total illumination, the forest's expansive darkness remaining only as a memory and haunting source of imagination. When her lover is relocated as part of this Resort Plan, “I” is left to mourn a present emptied of intimacy or future from her home in the city of P  (based loosely on Paris, Ville Lumière)before escaping to the edge of the forest to seek out the darkness that might remain. 

“Potent, damp, fecundly poetic, tapping ancient crawlspaces and communal future logics both with lean, trancey prose … a treatise on darkness as urgent, vital recalibration for the late capitalist surveillance show and its suite of ever-expanding horrors.”
—Jess Arndt, author of Large Animals

“This beautiful book … exercises a delicate muscle weak from habitual disuse, the ability to see while eliding the snare of being constantly on view.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun

“A parable on the tyranny of visibility … Holyoak’s vivid, evocative prose confronts readers with a radically embodied subjectivity.”
—John Miller, artist and writer

“Damning and redemptive within its symbiotic apocalypse … a relic waiting to be born.”
—Jon Wagner, poet, theorist, translator

Vanessa Holyoak is a writer and artist based in Los Angeles. She also spends time in Paris and on an island in British Columbia. She writes fiction and art criticism and makes installations and performances. Her writing has appeared in Bomb, Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles, and e-flux, and she has had residencies and exhibitions in Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City, San Francisco, Washington DC, and the Scottish Highlands. She received a dual MFA in Creative Writing and Photography & Media from the California Institute of the Arts and is pursuing a PhD in Comparative Media & Culture at the University of Southern California.