Academic journal article New Formations

Materialities of Independent Publishing: A Conversation with AAAAARG, Chto Delat?, I Cite, Mute, and Neural

Academic journal article New Formations

Materialities of Independent Publishing: A Conversation with AAAAARG, Chto Delat?, I Cite, Mute, and Neural

Article excerpt


Nicholas Thoburn (NT) In one way or another all of you have an investment in publishing as a political practice, where publishing might be understood loosely as a political 'gesture' located 'between the realm of discourse and the material act'.(1) And in large measure, this takes the path of critical intervention in the form of the media with which you work--newspaper, blog, magazine, and digital archive. That is, media come forward in your publishing practice and writing as complex sets of materials, capacities, and effects, and as sites of political intervention and critical reflection.

The aim of this conversation is to concentrate on these materials, capacities, and effects of independent media (a term, 'independent media', that I use advisedly, given its somewhat pre-digital associations and a nagging feeling that it lacks purchase on the complexity of convergent media environments). I'm keen as much as possible to keep each of your specific publishing projects at the forefront of the conversation, to convey a strong sense of their 'materialities': the technical and aesthetic forms and materials they mobilise; what strategies of authorship, editorship, or collectivity they employ; how they relate to publics, laws, media paradigms, financial structures; how they model or represent their media form, and so on. To start us off, I would like to invite each of you to introduce your publishing project with a few sentences: its aims, the mediums it uses, where it's located, when established--that kind of thing.

Jodi Dean (JD) I started my blog, I Cite, in January 2005. It's on the Typepad platform. I pay about 20 dollars a year for some extra features.

I first started the blog so that I could 'talk' to people in a format that was not an academic article or an email. Or maybe it's better to say that I was looking for a medium in which to write, where what I was writing was not immediately constrained by the form of an academic piece, written alone, appearing once and late, if at all, or by the form of an email which is generally of a message sent to specific people, who may or may not appreciate being hailed or spammed every time something occurs to me.

There was another reason for starting the blog, though. I had already begun formulating my critique of communicative capitalism (in the book Publicity's Secret and in a couple of articles).(2) I was critical of the way that participatory media entraps people into a media mentality, a 24/7 mindset of reaching an audience and competing with the mainstream press. I thought that if my critique is going to be worth anything, I better have more firsthand experience, from the very belly of the beast.

Alessandro Ludovico (AL) I'm the editor in chief of Neural, a printed and online magazine established in 1993 in Bari (Italy) dealing with new media art, electronic music and hacktivism. It's a publication which beyond being committed to its topics, always experimented with publishing in various ways. Furthermore, I'm one of the founders (together with Simon Worthington of Mute and a few others) of, electronic cultural publishers, a network of magazines related to new media art whose slogan is: 'collaboration is better than competition'. Finally, I'm finishing a book called Post-Digital Print, about the historical and contemporary relationship between offline and online publishing. (3)

Sean Dockray (SD) About five years ago, I wrote this description:

   AAAARG is a conversation platform--at different times it performs
   as a school, or a reading group, or a journal.

   AAAARG was created with the intention of developing critical
   discourse outside of an institutional framework. But rather than
   thinking of it like a new building, imagine scaffolding that
   attaches onto existing buildings and creates new architectures
   between them.

More straightforwardly, the project is a website where people share texts: usually PDFs, anything from a couple of inspiring pages to a book or a collection of essays. …

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