After twelve weeks, my first Experimental Publishing Studio at RISD concluded yesterday, with a four-hour critique of the students’ final projects presented within a collaboratively-designed google doc. Everyone took turns transcribing the critics’ feedback and in the end we had a 111-page document that was published as a PDF and as zipped HTML. It contains manifestos, GIFs, PNGs, videos and downloads. It’s a beautiful artifact of the event and a serious act of performing publishing.
Every one of the students questioned publishing as an artists’ practice and discovered new ways to expose work and make content public.
And here’s our performing publishing statement, which appears on the first page of the document —
What is publishing today? Platforms, channels and modes of production are mutating and multiplying. Ubiquitous tools and an abundance of free material means that the artist is empowered to consider her own publishing agenda, outside of corporate constraints. What does it mean to “make public” when the circulation of texts, images and our own identities has become routine? Is posting (always) publishing?
This semester, the Experimental Publishing Studio at RISD explored various strategies for dispersing work, pushing content across networks, into and out of physical space and on and off platforms. Students were encouraged to develop their own “performing publishing” agendas, considering curation, fixity and dispersion in their practice. We erased, transcribed, versioned, intervened, traced, recited, collected, grabbed and scanned. We published our experiments to private and public spaces and used the studio environment as a laboratory for critical discussion and encouragement.
On May 13, 2015 our final meeting will serve as both a conclusion to the studio and as a real-time enactment of our work and ideas. Beginning at 1:00pm, the studio will perform eleven final projects into the collaborative design of a publication for four hours. On-site feedback from guest critics will be incorporated into the document, while others will be invited to occupy the screen. At 4:30 pm, the document will be closed and we will publish the event as a digital file for circulation, download and output.
I teach the studio again in the fall.
I’ve created a new graduate studies elective called Experimental Publishing Studio at RISD, and it’s now underway with 12 students. And I decided to publish the syllabus on NewHive as a sort of manifesto. It’s my agenda for the studio but it’s also a way to start talking about the current state and future of digital publishing.
It’s nice to see the work that went into it getting some attention. Kenneth Goldsmith calls it essential and it’s the subject of an editorial by Michael Connor at Rhizome. He says it’s “required reading,” and that it offers a cogent way to think about digital publishing and the scriptural economy.
I’m thinking about how to get the students to collectively publish the output of the class so that it can be shared. Lots more to come.