The colours recorded by the spectroscope are the inverse of the true colours, which float in the pupil after the eye has closed.
Theory of Colours takes as its title and point of departure the influential nineteenth-century treatise on colour by Johann Wolfgang Goethe. In Li’s third full-length collection, colour — and its absence — is at once subject, structural principle and medium. Moving from the distant past, through the fleeting, unstable present, and into a series of speculative futures, the book elaborates worlds both familiar and strange — a country estate, a small town, a grand hotel, a tower. Informed by the spectral practices of early photography and cinema, as well as the visual and thematic conventions of ghost stories, westerns and science fiction, Li’s narratives of text and image are unsettling explorations of sequence and time, absence and haunting.
Bella Li is the author of Argosy, which won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry and the Kenneth Slessor Prize, and Lost Lake, shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. Her writing and artwork have been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including Meanjin Literary Journal, Australian Book Review, Peril Magazine, Rabbit Poetry Journal, The Kenyon Review, and The Archives of American Art Journal. She holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne and is the Associate Publisher at Cordite Books.
Author photo credit: Leah Jing McIntosh, 2018. Liminal Magazine.
Bella Li, Theory of Colours
2021. 152mm x 228mm. 176pp.
Release date: August 2021
Limited edition of 50 hardback copies thread-sewn between boards, with dust jacket.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.