Portland-based comic book shop Floating World Comics has revisited one of their early releases with the reissue of Killian Eng‘s art book ‘Object 5.’ ‘Object 5‘ was Eng’s first book of collected works, a dense assemblage of surreal technology and alien architecture. The newest pressing features 16 pages of new work and a hardcover album layout that the first edition lacked. It’s a proper companion to his 2013 release ‘Object 10‘, also published by Floating World.
Eng is a deft illustrator, creating vast worlds of science fiction that keep a firm grip on the organic. In ‘Object 5‘ his work becomes tactile, encased in the texture of antiqued mechanics. The book contains a future imagined but never attained, the remnants of a lost visionary.
‘Object 5‘ follows a loose narrative of evolution in the voiceless expansion of space, where Eng acts as tour guide, taking the viewer to places both breathtaking and haunting. The doors he opens are into the dark and unknown, and ‘Object 5‘ is his first flare into the sky, marking the beginning of his path.
ETDC: It’s always struck me how your work exists in this wordless place – plenty of your pieces go without titles and you only use text when doing a film poster. Are titles of your works and books an afterthought?
KE: This is something I’m very aware of. I often do have a title for every piece but the main reason why I don’t post them together with the work all the time is because I don’t want the viewer to be pointed in a direction other than their own interpretation.
Sometimes I do include them though, as for example with some of the prints I sell online. I of course know that a title sometimes can add a lot to a piece and it’s definitely nothing I’m against in general. When looking at other artists work I can definitely appreciate when they include a title.
I want to explain the meaning of the word Object 5. It is a bit of an afterthought. Long before I had been in touch with Jason at Floating World Comics for the first time I had an idea for a picture book. The idea was to do a book that presented evidence material collected from a fictional crime scene, page by page. Every object would have been illustrated and presented with just a title at the bottom. Object 1, Object 2, Object 3, and so on. On page five there was a book with a strange pattern-filled circle on the front cover, Object 5. So this book is what inspired the title of this publication. One thing leads to another.
The language of your work is in the shapes and colors. One repeated icon in ‘Object 5’ is the black sphere – it appears in many of the pieces in the book and is also on the back cover. It creates this story of its own and becomes the book’s main character of sorts. Are you editing your book together to give a sense of narrative, or is it more about the visual flow from page to page?
The black sphere on the back cover was actually done with that in mind to connect with images in the book where that shape also appears. I see the black sphere drawn in that way as a symbol of infinite space, it can consist of everything, an opening into the unknown, like a portal.
I left the process of putting the page order together over to the publisher Jason. He did a great job with telling that story you mentioned even though there is no sequential narrative through the book. I did find this interesting and a discovery for me as well when he sent over the file before it went to print.
For the re-release of ‘Object 5’ a good number of pages were added to the previous edition. Were the additional illustrations created during the same time as the original works in ‘Object 5’?
Yes, all the work is from those years. It was of course tempting to add more new work since it’s a new version of the publication, but we thought it was best to keep it to strictly older work.
Before Floating World first reached out to you about doing a book, was it something you had considered doing?
Yes, definitely. I had a couple of ideas but nothing that was close to being realized. I was very grateful to find a collaborator interested in publishing the work.
How involved was Floating World in the assembling of the original ‘Object 5’?
Almost all the images were done before we got in touch for the first time. When we talked about releasing a book together it was a process where we selected all the images together that would be of interest to include.
You create a large volume of art outside of your freelance work – when you start a piece to do you envision where it belongs? Do you see your personal pieces as experiments, images to post on Tumblr or Facebook, or intended for something bigger, like a book or a print?
I would say that this has changed through the years. Now I might think a bit more about what I would like to do with it when it’s finished. But in the moment when drawing the focus and energy goes into creating and the next step doesn’t matter.
One thought that makes me quite happy is that I at least know that there is some interest to collect them into books or something at some point.