The Exegesis of P.K.D. // 2017

Designed by Tori Green

Layout Design

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is a non-fiction book comprised of a journal written by the American science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick contains documentations of Dick’s visions he experienced from 1974 until his death in 1982. This compilation of writings explore the origins and meaning of existence. The design of The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is my visual interpretation of his religious experiences, and the overall design book illustrates themes of altered states of consciousness that underlay Philip K. Dick’s theories.

Designing The Exegesis of P.K.D. was a Typography III assignment split into two sections, the first section being the initial research and imagery-making portion of the project. My peers and I in the Typography III course had to read through the material and research P.K.D., and using the collected information, we were told to make sculptures derivative of his writing (which we would later photograph and use as imagery within our books). During the research phase, I discovered that P.K.D. began to experience visions after an encounter he had with a pharmacy delivery employee who went to Dick’s house to dispatch pain medication after he had his wisdom teeth removed. He began to have hallucinations upon viewing the delivery woman’s necklace with a symbol used by early Christians. P.K.D. claims that the necklace exuded a pink beam of light that put him into a trace for weeks. Regarding this transcendent period, Dick has stated:

        “In that instant, as I stared at the gleaming fish sign and heard her     words, I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis—a Greek word meaning, literally, ‘loss of forgetfulness.’ I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me. And not only could I remember it but I could see it. The girl was a secret Christian and so was I. We lived in fear of detection by the Romans. We had to communicate with cryptic signs. She had just told me all this, and it was true.”

The relationship between the color pink, specifically pink light, and God, otherwise known as the Vast Active Living Intelligence System (VALIS), is stressed throughout the writings of P.K.D. Pink light indicates the presence of VALIS, and when making these sculptures, I used pink lighting and pink orbs due to their symbolic significance. Each orb is encapsulated by a metallic barrier that represents the black iron prison, the manifestation of entropy that P.K.D. believed entraps the world. Likewise, P.K.D. also thought that the origins of good and evil were created from the twins VALIS produced, in which one of the twins separated prematurely, spawning the creation of evil. I conveyed the concept of good and evil the twins embody through the manipulation of light by projecting two shadows, one filled with pink light, the other with a sickly green color, onto the wall. I also produced a sculpture of a cube composed of smaller, pink cubes, because P.K.D. ranted about being gifted “sight” upon swallowing a pink cube that glowed with light.  

In order to stay faithful to the original manifestation of the exegesis, in which the writings were found inside folders, I put vertical tabs along the chapter introduction pages that referenced which folder the chapter was found in. The images of the sculptures I created are placed in between chapters, and every photograph also displays a quote from the upcoming chapter. The Exegesis of P.K.D. is sequenced chronologically, and as a user progresses through the book, the tabs shift downward. The type palette for this project includes OCR A Std, a technological typeface that reflects the science-fiction quality of P.K.D.’s writings, and Avenir Next Condensed, a tight typeface that embodies P.K.D.’s anxiety. In addition, the book is rendered primarily in pink, the color of divinity, and throughout the book (and on the cover) I use an arrow symbol. The arrow signifies the holy trinity in the Catholic faith, as well as P.K.D. progression into mania.

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