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Spirit City Toronto
posted October 19, 2010


Creator: Aaron Leighton
Publishing Information: Koyama Press, softcover, April 2010
Ordering Numbers: 9780978481063 (ISBN13)

imageI'm not sure there's a whole lot to say about Koyama Press' latest effort, an art book featuring "spiritual" creatures dropped into urban landscape by Aaron Leighton. Heck, you can go look at either the entire thing or nearly the entire thing here and decide for yourself how it works or doesn't. My gut reaction upon a first reading was that it's such a facile, even well-traveled idea that the execution would have to be astonishing to elicit a rave. While Leighton's images are attractive throughout, fewer than a half dozen to my eye have the raw energy or combination of elements necessary to provide a transcendent moment of the relatively modest variety. Like most broadly-conceived art projects, one could suggest that this is part of what's being expressed: that these are gods that have lost their power, and are suffering an existential downshift from totems of awe to items of curiosity -- Miyazaki tends to draw this out more explicitly in his films -- but I'm not convinced that wouldn't be telling a lie on the art's behalf. The book certainly speaks well to the breadth of Koyama Press' ambitions, and is unlike anything that crossed my desk this week. I only wish it were more explicitly powerful.