Experimental publishing

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I was invited to give a few talks in Los Angeles earlier this week (at UCLA and Art Center), while I was there for Printed Matter’s L.A. Art Book Fair. Library of the Printed Web was the attractor, I think, especially at the Graduate Media Design Practice program at Pasadena. But I took the opportunity to present a more general overview of my work, including the larger trajectory from designer (and all of the brand/creative/director/strategist roles that go with it) to artist, teacher, curator and publisher.

While artist and teacher are fairly new roles for me, I feel like I’ve been wrestling with them for some time now, even if abstractly. But it’s the last two concepts—curator and publisher—that are entirely new. Creating Library of the Printed Web exactly one year ago (for the excellent Theorizing the Web conference) introduced me—somewhat unknowingly—to curatorial and publishing situations that I never imagined.

Publishing Printed Web #1 is an experiment. It’s provisional and experimental because I didn’t approach the project like a traditional publisher, or with any real business model (I didn’t “start a publishing company” or small press or anything like that). I formed the project as a way to present new work from artists who interest me (artists who enact a web-to-print practice in some way). I consider the publication to be, primarily, an exhibition in print. Printed Web #1 is “primary information” in the Seth Siegelaub sense (at least, he was the primary inspiration). The issue is not a catalogue—it is not “about” the work—it is the presentation of the art. “You don’t need a gallery to show ideas” (Siegelaub).

The reception at the fair was great. People get it. Visitors to the table were curious, and when I told them that each artist got six pages to do whatever they want, from web-to-print, they wanted to see all of the projects. Most people stood there and flipped through all 64 pages.

I was asked a few times about newsprint. Why use a light, ephemeral kind of printing when presenting ephemeral (web) work in a new context? It’s a good question and it could be argued that the desire for slowness, thingness and permanence would be better served by a more high-end presentation of the project. But I wanted to keep the publication accessible ($12) and stay far away from the “rare,” out-of-print photobook frenzy. For now, newsprint works.

I sold 135 issues of Printed Web #1 at the fair and 50 more are going to Motto in Berlin. And I’ve sold about 50 more in the online shop. If you’d like one and you’re in the NYC area, you can avoid the shipping charge by coming to Printed Matter on March 1 for a launch event. More details about that soon.

Printed Web is an experimental publishing project because my goal (for now, at least) is to be a part of the conversation. To spread the thing around in an interesting way and talk and chew on the issues embedded in this kind of work (circulationism, acceleration, materiality, copyright, a new web-to-print artist’s practice).

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  1. Pingback: Digital Promises: What’s Next for Art Books?

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