THE PRINT IS DEAD ISSUE MARCH/APRIL 2012
newcastle’s creative publication
ANDREA ZITTEL ROBERT PROCH INCH THE VINYL JACKETS HEY BABY CHIEF MERRIMAKING APE VS FLY AV FESTIVAL APE-X GLAD DESIGN JEREMY LESLIE LOMOGRAPHY
Friday 9 to Saturday 17 March 2012
FUSES Live Lab 2012 New Writing Festival Sponsored by Potts Print (UK)
Don’t miss this explosive nine day New Writing Festival featuring some of the country’s most interesting and innovative theatre makers and companies.
Tickets: Free to £10 Box office: (0191) 232 1232 Box online: www.live.org.uk
CONTENTS ANDREA ZITTEL AT BALTIC
ROBERT PROCH AT THE OUTSIDERS GRAFFITI ARTIST HITS ONETHIRTY3 LISTENING TO THE DJ MIX AT HOME
VINYL JACKET INTERVIEW HEY BABY CHIEF + MERRIMAKING
APE VS FLY NIGHTLIFE ///
APE-X & USE OF PRINT IN PROMO GLAD DESIGN AGENCY TALK PRINT
OLYMPIC POSTERS OF 1972 FESTIVAL /// PRINT IS /// DEAD
CHOICE PICKS FROM THE AV FESTIVAL INTERVIEW WITH JEREMY LESLIE THE ARTISAN IN THE DARKROOM THE ANALOGUE REVOLUTION WHERE PRINT MEETS WEB PRINT HANGS ON
A LOOK AT TWO NEWLY RELEASED GAMES
CONTRIBUTORS SAMUEL ASHBY, DAVID BILBROUGH, THOMAS BOYLE, MARK BRUCE, DAVID BURDON, DAN HOWARTH, TOBY LIPMAN, MARIA LOUPA, JAMIE LUDLAM, STEPHANIE OSWALD, DUNCAN RICKELTON, MARIAN SHEk, JAMES WILKINSON CHIEF EDITORS KERRY KITCHIN - firstname.lastname@example.org LEE HALPIN - email@example.com DESIGN & CREATIVE DIRECTOR KERRY KITCHIN - firstname.lastname@example.org SUB-EDITOR JOE TURNBUL - email@example.com MUSIC STUART HEATHER - firstname.lastname@example.org http://soundcloud.com/stuheather GAMES MICHAEL FINNIGAN - email@example.com Twitter: @Finniruse SOCIAL MEDIA RUTH COMER - firstname.lastname@example.org
www.novelmagazine.co.uk Novel issue 7. Published bi-monthly by Novel Magazine, all rights reserved. Printed in the UK. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in articles are those of author and do not express the opinions of the publisher.
Illustration by James Wilkinson
A new issue, a new look and a new format; novel magazine has evolved again as part of our mission to be adaptable, progressive and, ultimately, novel. The new format is not only distinctive but serves a practical purpose as it is more easily picked-up, stored and carried. Part of our aesthetic goal for novel has always been that it has a collectable and non-disposable quality so it is important for us that people feel it is easy to carry and take home novel from the location they find it. To announce the arrival of our new format we have selected a dazzling front cover from artist Robert Proch and we hope this is what drew your attention to this issue and the fact that we have changed, not disappeared. In response to feedback from our readers, particularly our female readers, novel is now organised with a slightly more traditional magazine format, including sections on art, fashion, music and going out. However, novel is still themed and our original idea to set a theme for the regions writers and artists to respond to and promote their own work is still absolutely integral to the personality of novel and the role we want to serve in order to endorse this city’s creative talents. Please continue to contact us and, ask questions, contribute and get involved via facebook, twitter and contribute@novelmagazine. co.uk. This is ‘the print is dead issue’ and themed articles examine the death of many modes of artistic production and well as the emergence of new ones. Feelings of nostalgia and nervous anticipation prevail for many of us in this rapidly technologically advancing world and we hope we and our contributors have captured some of your own feeling about this zeitgeist.
To celebrate a year in the publishing industry and six issues of novel magazine, we invited you to STOP.THE.PRESS at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Showcasing local producers and DJâ€™s with live street art, in a unique nightlife setting, we were absolutely buzzing with the resultant turn out and the scale of the artwork produced. The images below are a testimony to the success of the event and weâ€™d like to thank everyone who showed up, became part of the movement and supported the magazine. This was our first event and a relatively humble affair compared to our plans for the future. Stay tuned on twitter, facebook and www.novelmagazine.co.uk
stop. the. press.
LAY OF MY LAND
BATIC CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART FEB 10 2012 - MAY 20 2012
A new exhibition at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art from Andrea Zittel, who amongst many other titles is the founder of the A-Z community in the Mojave Desert. Words by Lee Halpin
Andrea Zittel, artist, inventor, clothes and product designer, architect and life coach has spent the last two decades developing her own solutions to the modern world’s problems of overcrowding, time-constraints, decadence, waste and debilitation. Since establishing her lifestyle solution project-come artistic identity, A-Z Administration in 1992, her bespoke and ultimately practical homestead designs have included everything from a Plateless Dining Table, eliminating some of the banality of washing-up chores, to the A-Z Chamber Pot, circumventing the need for plumbing. Building on the artist-as-designer model established by Bauhaus, Zittel brings an individualistic approach to utopian design. But rather than producing utilitarian products for the masses using capitalist modes of production, she has set herself the task of redefining, redesigning and reducing objects considered necessary for everyday living using sustainable and small-scale modes of production. One of her aims is to revolutionize lifestyles with a view to enhancing independence and individualism. Her models to alter the world
always begin with her own lifestyle and herself, presumably seeking to make change by way of example. Zittel first established the A-Z brand in a Brooklyn store, using a corporate identity to forge a non-conformist approach to design and architecture in the 1990’s. In 1999, she moved back to her native California to create A-Z West, her current residence in the Mojave Desert. The first project she realized in the Mojave in 2001 was her Homestead Unit, an example of the various shelters and structures for which she is best known, some of which comprise part of the exhibition currently on display at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, ‘Lay of my Land’. The title ‘Homestead Unit’ is a reference to the 1862 Homestead Act and more recently the 1938 Baby Homestead Act, an act of congress that made five acre parcels in the Mojave available not to would-be farmers so much as people seeking relief from crowded urban conditions. Zittel created A-Z West after she became sceptical about the international contemporary arts scene and the way, as she puts it, ‘art has been
turned into an export commodity’. Her main concern is that the context in which art is exhibited has become divorced from the one in which it was created. Zittel wanted to make a ‘site specific project where my work would be conceptualised, constructed and put on view in its original context’. For most of us, though, the gallery is the only place we will experience Zittel’s work and it is an experience worth having. The ‘wagon stations’ currently on display on level 2 of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art are a great testimony to human pragmatism and individualism, each serving exactly the same, very basic function but each marked by their creators idiosyncrasies and personal identities. One of the most striking features of the whole exhibition is the demonstration of Zittel’s obsessive determination and almost machine like output of work. This is most clearly communicated in her crochet and wallpaper exhibits. ‘Lay of My Land’ is on display at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art until May 20th.
BETWEEN DIMENSIONS ROBERT PROCH
THE OUTSIDERS GALLERY FEB 24 2012 - APRIL 14 2012
Polish artist’s work on display at the alternative quayside gallery
25 year-old Robert Proch began putting up graffiti in his hometown of Bydgoszcz, Poland as a teen. He then began experimenting with more traditional art forms. Proch is now a fully qualified professional animator and his work can be viewed on Vimeo. He has exhibited in his native Poland, Denmark, Italy, Hungary, Estonia and Germany, including at the Stroke urban art fair. In Proch we find an urban artist unlike any other. Robert Proch’s abstract, colourful figurative work has already gained considerable attention in central Europe. Now The Outsiders, the emerging art gallery from curator Steve Lazarides, has brought the 25 year-old to Newcastle for his first ever UK solo exhibition. Proch’s style is inspired by state-of-theart animation as much as classic caricature, and impressionism as much as modernist graffiti. The mini-narratives he paints examine the modern human condition using vivid colours and tangible emotions. Sentimentality, ambition, fear, loss, hubris, greed and friendship play their roles in snapshot dramas set in coffee shops and shopping malls; or during pregnancies and suicides. Proch stresses the intensity of experience in his vibrant portrayals of situations that could be considered ominous, maudlin or plain mundane. In SECURITY OBSESSION a haughty
CRUMBLED TOP LEFT MAGALOMANIA TOP RIGHT
yummy mummy eyes the viewer suspiciously; in NO MORE STEPS, an elderly wife cradles her wheezing husband at the top of an escalator; and in UNEXPECTED GUEST, a commuter muses upon sinister thoughts at a café table. But sometimes the artist tears through the tissue dividing the earthly and the dreamlike. In TIME FOR CHANGE he dabbles with the purely fantastical; in TSAR the abstract; and in TARGET BRIDGE a rural landscape – except the train passing across the horizon bears a ballistic missile. But rather than being ‘gritty’ or downbeat Robert’s work
is dynamic, arresting and often strangely encouraging; he presents an augmented emotional reality that remains pleasing to identify with. Proch is certainly not a ‘happyclappy’ artist – his SEVEN DEADLY SINS boil with modern horror – yet he is always uplifting and exciting. BACK IN THE DAYS, for example, is a portrait of a wheelchair-bound raver, spinning around to the music on his headphones with arms raised. Such images mounted upon huge outdoor frescos stop traffic wherever they appear, but are equally suited to a gallery interior. The paintings are
made with acrylics on canvas and range from 30cm by 30cm square to 100cm by 100cm. Because of his knowledge of animation, Proch’s grasp of movement and the distinct manner in which he employs it is central to the beguiling nature of his work, and The Outsiders curator, Steve Lazarides is thrilled to be screening a selection of these film works as part of this exhibition. Discover this emerging international artist at the beginning of what novel anticipates to be a glittering career.
ONETHIRTY3 AT HOULTS YARD WORDS BY LEE HALPIN. IMAGES ARE COURTESY OF DAVID BILBROUGH
GIVE HIM AN INCH
In the world of graffiti, when you reach a certain degree of notoriety, when you’re one of the most ‘up’ writers in the region, you’ve painted trains and started off an equally infamous crew, you are often dubbed a ‘king’. Newcastle’s own INCH is one such graffiti writer/artist. The level of respect for an artist such as INCH amongst other writers is pretty much unparalleled as his devotion to his tag and his crew names have been relentless for nearly two decades. People outside the sub-culture recognise his tag and those within it would never paint over it. INCH, for obvious reasons, is not a public figure and unlike many graffiti artists the recent trend towards rebranding graffiti as street art and selling it for lucrative fees in galleries has not lured him out of the shadows. He remains anonymous. It is rare then to have an intimate experience with an artist like INCH however artists’ installation space onethirty3 recently let INCH loose on its walls and those lucky enough to get a text or email about it had the opportunity to view the bombardment up close. Onethirty3 has already played host to some of the world finest, with artists like Herakut and Sickboy having painted the space before INCH. His presence amongst such international artists is not unjustified and novel is glad to see INCH get recognition for his legendary status.
A QUIET NIGHT IN: Following the popularity of techno and other electronic genres in the late 80s/early 90s rave scene, it was Warp Records who paved the way for a home-based listening experience with their brand of ‘Intelligent Dance Music’ which wasn’t really dance music at all. Warp claimed that their Artificial Intelligence series (8 records releases between 1992 and 1994) was ‘electronic music for the mind’ or ‘electronic listening music’. The latter term, found on the sleeve of Artificial Intelligence I, seemingly makes a direct reference to that commonly used umbrella term for the wider genre: ‘Electronic Dance Music’. ‘Electronic listening music’ is then here more than just a concise describer of the record case’s content but takes on a new, ironic meaning. By approaching the term ‘electronic dance music’ but semantically evading it by changing just one word, Warp wrestled with the existing conventions and expectations of the electronic style and communicated in no uncertain terms that this was something new. Warp also sent a message with the album art for Artificial Intelligence. Comprising some kind of humanoid cyborg reclining with three EPs – Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Kraftwerk’s Autobahn and Warp’s own Pioneers of the Hypnotic Groove –strewn across the living room floor, the suggestion, clearly tongue in cheek, was that Warp’s releases are as groundbreaking and significant as Pink Floyd‘s and Kraftwerk’s. While Warp’s rhetoric can be downplayed to a certain extent as humour and irony, Artificial Intelligence can nonetheless be considered the moment of a paradigm shift of sorts for electronic music. Prior to this, genres like techno and acid were primarily the fodder of ecstasy fuelled, glowstick illuminated parties in fields and warehouses. With Artificial Intelligence, however, came a conscious effort to create something to instead be enjoyed in a more introspective environment. Crucially, it was not just
Novel’s new music editor Stuart Heather gives us an article inspired by the recent release of two big-hitting Electronic Music albums, Dj Sneak: Fabric 62 and Maya Jane Coles: Dj Kicks Compiltion. Listen to Stuarts own music at http://soundcloud.com/stuheather
A SHORT HISTORY OF LISTENING TO THE DJ MIX AT HOME through rhetoric that this agenda was pursued, but also through the unique nature of the label’s musical output. The record itself introduced a distinctive new variation on the electronic sound, while its rhetoric and artwork simultaneously proclaimed, albeit ironically, its uniqueness and historical significance. Warp were thus able to construct a listening experience with a kind of cultural disclaimer that it should be enjoyed in the living room rather
Warp were thus able to construct a listening experience with a kind of cultural disclaimer that it should be enjoyed in the living room rather than the hedonistic warehouse parties associated with the genre at that time. than the hedonistic warehouse parties associated with the genre at that time. Tracks from the series like Autechre’s Chatter and Kenny Larkin’s Maritime retain the hypnoticism of classic techno music, but seek a new rhythmic complexity which, as Warp readily admitted, targets the mind rather than the body. The pure driven rawness of stylistic predecessors like techno and acid house is conspicuous by its absence and replaced with an enigmatic awkwardness which defined the music’s individuality by virtue of what wasn’t there as much as what was. The next significant development in this narrative was the introduction of the DJ-KiCKS series by Berlin based !K7 records in 1995; just a year after the final instalment of the Artificial Intelligence series. What separates the aesthetic of DJ-KiCKS from Artificial Intelligence is that, while Warp reacted against
the music of the dancefloor and created an alternative style, !K7 wholeheartedly embraced it, as well as bringing the form of the DJ mix to home speakers for the first time. Indeed, !K7 describe the motivation for DJ-KiCKS as being driven by ‘the idea of bringing the vibrant sound of the dancefloor to the listener’s home’. The series’ introduction, mixed by CJ Bolland - incidentally a native of the North East - certainly reinforced this idea. With his trademark style of abrasive, crunching techno and unrelenting acid synths, Bolland’s track selection was seemingly straight from the same record bag as his rave sets. The next two instalments in the series, mixed by Claude Young and Carl Craig respectively, stayed true to the dancefloor aesthetic of the premiere, though they embraced a more subtle, Detroit influenced style, which reflected both DJs’ roots in techno’s homeland. !K7 had now established the unique selling point of their product and it was an idea which earned them a large cult following. Sparked by the success of DJ-KiCKS, the home listening DJ mix series then became somewhat of a trend in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, with series such as Back to Mine, Late Night Tales and Newcastle’s own Global Underground attracting some of the world’s most influential DJs. It is the Fabric series (Fabric and Fabric.Live), however, which has been particularly successful and has since come to be associated with everything that is cutting edge and forward thinking in electronic music. Since the first release by Craig Richards (the fabric record label’s musical director and resident DJ of the eponymous London nightclub) in 2001, the series has output monthly mix CDs amounting to more than 120 releases to date. Ranging from compilations by indieelectro bands like Cut Copy and Simian Mobile Disco, to ambient jungle mixes from Goldie and LTJ Bukem, quirky dancefloor mashups from Diplo and Jackmaster to futuristic garage and dubstep from Shackleton
and Martyn, turntable collages from Scratch Perverts and DJ Yoda to the most rigid techno from the likes of Adam Beyer and Robert Hood and even with a contribution by John Peel, the Fabric series is founded on documenting the ever changing sound of a club which is now arguably the global headquarters of electronic music. The myriad of different influences and cultures which coexist in the boundaries of electronic dance music, which can be made evident by Fabric or DJ-KiCKS, point to the genre being a microcosm of wider postmodern culture as a whole. This is a trend which has constantly been developing since the genre’s inception, which the short history I have traced in this article attempts to indicate. The electronic style itself is defined by origins which are socially, musically and technologically heterogeneous, and by rapid developments into new sub-genres which occur seemingly chaotically. Furthermore, the early journey
The electronic style itself is defined by origins which are socially, musically and technologically heterogeneous, and by rapid developments into new sub-genres which occur seemingly chaotically. from the styles’ African American originators in Chicago and Detroit to predominantly white, European audiences in the nightclub created a mode of cultural spatialisation by providing youths with some relief from the organised inanity of the mainstream, albeit only for a few hazy hours on a Friday night. Finally, the transition from the setting of the nightclub or party to the home listening setting is an example of a product with a previously uniform, homogeneous function – in this case as a backdrop for the nightclub experience - being used in different frames for new aesthetic purposes. In the same way that Andy Warhol presenting consumer products as gallery pieces opened up new forms of expression for fine art, shifting electronic dance music outside of its originally exclusively nightclub setting, created new expressive possibilities for the genre and new meanings for its listeners. If you don’t believe me, just go out and buy the latest Fabric or DJ-KiCKS release.
Review: DJ SNEAK FABRIC 62 The 122nd addition to the Fabric discography, fabric 62, was released at the end of February, calling on the services of iconic Chicago house heavyweight DJ Sneak. Followers of Sneak will not be in the least surprised to discover that raw, undiluted house music forms the basis of fabric 62. This will be particularly welcomed by fans of the classic strain of the genre, as more recent releases in the fabric line, particularly since Martyn’s fabric 50, have seemed to champion musical diversity rather than sticking to one style throughout. Refreshingly though, the tracklist for fabric 62 keeps the traditions of Chicago house firmly at its core, an aesthetic approach which is further indicated by Sneak recording it live with no editing. Each transition demonstrates the DJ’s decades of mixing experience, and it is through embracing the uncomplicated form of a classic house set that Sneak makes the mix more than the sum of its parts. Each track maximises a basic idea: a simple synth melody; a chord stab; a snatch of a vocal line; a syncopated percussion track dancing between the hi-hats. The resultant shifts in energy invigorate the blueprint house rhythms and transform the basic groove into something more expressive; like a canvas for Sneak to paint on. Particular highlights are Tripmastaz’ ‘No Turning Back’ and Markus Homm & Philip Gonzales’s ‘Got To Make It’, two tracks which, as with Sneak’s offering as a whole, remind the listener of the beauty of keeping things simple.
Preview: MAYA JANE COLES DJ KICKS (COMPILATION) Later this Spring, the much anticipated next instalment to the DJ-KiCKS series will be released, coming from one of the rising stars of 2011, 24 year-old Maya Jane Coles. Though the CD itself is not yet available for purchase, the tracklist is available on the DJ-KiCKS website and shows that Coles sticks to the tradition of DJ-KiCKS artists contributing an exclusive production to their mix (as a bonus, she also includes a track under her alternative moniker Nocturnal Sunshine). The tracklist also shows the inclusion of several vocal based tracks which have had a level of underground success, such as Chasing Kurt’s Money, Caribou’s remix of Virgo Four’s It’s a Crime and Bozwell’s Cocoon. Coles suggests a diverse offering, promising “something which isn’t just four to the floor” but broadcasts her other influences such as garage, two step and dubstep. This is typical of DJ-KiCKS compilations, which tend to be more about DJs telling their musical story than capturing a single contemporary dancefloor moment. Assuming that Coles assembles her interesting tracklist with the same skill that has seen her become one of electronic music’s biggest rising stars, this DJ-KiCKS instalment could become one of the classics of the already prestigious series and should certainly not be missed.
Countless bands doss about for years trying to move forward but remain, for various reasons, in long term inertia. Vinyl Jacket aren’t one of those bands, at least if their rapid ascent in 2011 is anything to go by. They formed just two years ago, yet in the past twelve months they have received airplay on Radio 1 and 6Music and performed at Evolution Festival and the BBC Introducting stage at Glastonbury; playing to crowds considerably bigger than the population of their native Wylam. So what was the best moment of such a memorable year? With hardly any deliberation, they agree that playing Glastonbury was their collective highlight. In addition to seeing their first Vinyl Jacket flag, Glastonbury was such an experience for them because they feel their music and attitude to performing is ideally suited to the festival. Ben expands: “Whenever we play live we always go out with a lot of energy. We met through musical theatre so we’ve always had performance at our core. Also, I think our whole set has a ‘festival
2011: A Good Year, at least for Northumberland based band Vinyl Jacket. Stuart Heather spoke to them at the Town Wall ahead of a busy Spring which sees them releasing their new single ‘Red Light’ and starting a UK tour. sound’, and Glastonbury was the perfect atmosphere because everyone is happy, a bit drunk and there to have a good time.” On listening to any of the band’s singles it is easy to understand where Ben is coming from. ‘Koala’ is a collage of reverb heavy guitar chords, dreamy ascending synth arpeggios and textured vocals. The band are confident in their sound, which they describe as ‘up-beat, off kilter pop’ as Sam tells me: “I’m aware that some people think our sound is too fun. But we enjoy making it, enjoy playing it and our crowds enjoy it too. So we’ve got no reason to compromise.” It is Vinyl Jacket’s vibrancy that has won them the majority of their considerable fanbase, as well as their most important supporters in the music industry, most notably BBC Introducing’s Tom Robinson. The band first met Robinson at the Transmission event in late 2010, a
moment they refer to, by no coincidence, as “the springboard for all the good stuff that happened in 2011”. Transmission is an annual fringe event of the Sunderland Split festival which gives aspiring musicians the chance to impress a panel of industry experts. Robinson is a regular on the panel, and it was he who recognised what Vinyl Jacket had to offer. He got in touch shortly after and invited them to play for BBC Introducing. Through Robinson, other BBC DJs heard Vinyl Jacket and they resultantly received airplay from Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne and Huw Stephens. Stephens has been particularly supportive of the band, making both ‘Painting Stations’ and ‘Koala’ his ‘Track of the Week’ and inviting the band for a Radio 1 session at Maida Vale. Despite the prestige of playing at Maida Vale and Glastonbury in the same year, they appear to be keeping their feet on the ground. Ben and Andrew are both still studying at university, Jacky has a full time job and Sam is starting a business with his brother. Furthermore, they are all located in different parts of the country, pursuing alternatives for their future which are slightly more mundane than being in a festival-headlining band. When I ask them if this is a problem for them they admit that it is not always ideal, but they remain positive in a very uncontrived way, telling me that it
BURIAL - KINDRED CHROMATICS - KILL FOR LOVE EMIKA FT. JIMMY EDGAR - HIT ME OHBIJOU - MOSSY LUNGS SHARON VAN ETTEN - GIVE OUT
SONGS ON CIRCULATION AT THE NOVEL OFFICE
Vinyl Jacket release ‘Red Light’ on March 5th, with a launch party at the New Bridge Project on March 3rd. You can get more information about them on their website, Facebook, Twitter or watch their brilliantly surreal videos on Youtube.
GRIMES - SKIN KID CUDI AND DOT THE GENIOUS - TELEPORT TO ME P.GOD - APPROACHING AN OCEAN PLANET HOMEBOY FT. ANSHIE - HALFWAY (YOUANDEWAN REMIX) PORTICO QUINTET - WINDOW SEAT
“The guy from G-Birds came up to us after we’d finished and said: “Well done! You guys are tight...for your age””.
I certainly get the impression they feel like they’ve come a long way in terms of both music and reputation, something which Jacky laughs about when he tells me an anecdote from a gig they were doing supporting Grandfather Birds in their pre-Transmission days:
increases their enthusiasm when they do get to meet and that they can take advantage of building separate networks and fanbases in cities such as Leeds and Manchester. It is certainly not the case that they haven’t made compromises for the band; Ben, for instance, chose to stay in the country rather than go to prestigious Canadian university McGill for a year abroad of his Marketing degree. While they do seem a little uneasy talking about the prospect of ‘making it’, almost as if they don’t want to jinx it, they are also unshakeably enthusiastic and positive about the experiences of 2011.
NOVEL’S CHOICE MUSIC EVENTS MARCH/APRIL
MAR PORTICO QUARTET
N. SINFONIA PLAY REICH & BIRTWHISTLE
Diverse & different jazz
Pieces by two of the worlds most revered living composers
FOUR TOPS & TEMPTATIONS
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS
Metro Radio Arena
Two institutions of soul music visit the Arena
The legendary punk band bring some grit to the O2 Academy
AJIMAL W/ SUPPORT FROM NADINE SHAH
GATESHEAD INT. JAZZ FESTIVAL
Lit & Phil Society
Intimate gig from serene local experimentalists
Free music in concourse, late night Dj’s & quality jazz all wknd
AV FESTIVAL (SLOW AS POSSIBLE)
THE LAKE POETS
Highlights include a sleep concert at Centre for Life:
The Sunderland musicianprovides a night of acoustic songs
NARC BIRTHDAY PARTY
The Wearside outfit focus on acoustic music and a cappella
Feat. Nately’s Whore Sister, Bird Islands, Natasha Haws +
SHARKS TOOK THE REST
DRY THE RIVER
A night of musical bliss from another local band
Scruffy band, scruffy music (in a good way)
HEY BABY CHIEF PANDA Observing contemporary trends in Newcastle’s fashions it is becoming more and more apparent that retro is, curiously, the way forward. Boutique, vintage, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, knitted, faded, ripped, shabby, shabby sheek are all increasingly popular sartorial expressions in a city that seems to be matching its look with the state of its worn-out economy. As a result the vintage clothing store is back in vogue with more and more boutiques popping up by the week. One such store, which seems to be popular amongst the nouveaux bohos, is the bizarrely named HEY BABY CHIEF PANDA, or HOT SHOP for short, situated on Biddlestone Road, Heaton, just off Heaton Park Road. Owners, or ‘recherche du matins’, Hannah and Neesha are themselves champions of the nouveaux boho movement and deeply engrained in the social order that sport this revamped attire. Searching for an answer as the why vintage clothing has been given a new lease of life in recent years, the girls said: “There has been a great deal of exposure on environmental issues in the past 10 years which has most likely played part in the popularity of second-hand and vintage shops. Also it’s a generational thing. We are of an era where trends in fashion, music and art have become very eclectic and take direct influences from the past, from all different times, all coming together. “ Hannah and Neesha both graduated from Fine Art degrees and previously studied fashion. Their expertise combined with their vested interest in the social movement mean their shop is one of the forerunning vintage clothes shops in the city, set apart from similar operations. The layout of the shop and the stock selection are key elements in their individualisation. “We hand select everything and are constantly arranging objects and clothes in the shop so that all these small things come together as one bigger picture, giving items new leases of life in a new context. Participating in various social circles, col-
Boutique clothing store in Heaton is designing a new look for local residents and it’s catching on. laborative exhibitions and installations over time has allowed us to develop a distinct taste, environment and style, which we like to incorporate in everything we do. We want to foremost create a novel experience for anyone who comes to visit us.’ What is it about Heaton that made it the ideal base camp for project Hey Baby Chief Panda? “Heaton is just such a communal, friendly alternative locale. There are a number of independent cafes, boutiques and junk shops here selling all sorts of exciting second-hand things and offering a sweet place to hang out. We were extremely excited when our current premises became available partly because there is a lot more space, which has allowed us to increase our functionality.” The size of their new premises has opened up many doors of opportunity for the girls allowing HOT SHOP to function as more than just a clothes store. Hannah and Neesha recently hosted the music video for Rob Heron and the Teapad Orchestra and set up a HOT SHOP at the Beth Jeans Houghton gig at Gateshead Town Hall. “It’s really important to us to work with local creatives, plus these guys are our good friends and it has always made sense to work on projects with our friends and like-minded people. Styling a shoot for the artwork of Beth Jeans Houghton’s Album ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’ just felt like a day of playing dress up with friends. Our last gig at the shop showcased Molly Nilsson (from Berlin) hosted by A Glimpse of Paradise (local promoter, Micheal Patterson).” International artists, boulevardiers, the nouveaux bohemians and influential fashions all emanating from an area that as little as ten years ago was famous for toy graffiti, wannabe gangsters, street drinkers and charvas. HOT SHOP and the growing social movement associated with the store and its image has already begun shaping the culture of Heaton. Given time they may remould it all together.
GLEEFUL GRAFTING Areet y’ decrepit little fashion slaves? Following on from issue six’s article on London Undercover, we’re taking a deeks at another fashion label producing bespoke, novel ‘garms’ that will instantly elevate you above your peers and separate you from the hoy-palloy and riff-raff with their – dare I speak the word – Topshop effrontery.
Merrimaking are currently having a significant impact on the UK fashion scene with their made-to-order, bespoke animal hoods. A brief note on the brand and its ‘ethos’, perhaps flavoured with some quotation, are, I believe, customary at this point in the traditional fashion article (the part after the overly familiar opening and slightly lost quip, nb: see above). ‘Founded as a means to fund fun’ Merrimaking is a design house producing ‘playful, bespoke pieces’ to quote the email they sent us. Their hoods have been seen on the celebrity scene – a dubious endorsement – worn by Rob Da Bank, Ellie Goulding and Rizzle Kicks. They flooded the fields at last summer’s festivals, look likely to do the same this year and were high-sellers in the xmas cash spunk bonanza at Selfridges. All selfrelfexive irony, temporarily, aside this is a brand and an item of attire that has originality, novelty, which is what we’re into, and a commitment to quality. Part of what has made the brand so appealing, one conjectures, is the flexibility of the design work – consumers have a choice of lining and the opportunity to commission an original piece. Moreover, though, they are handmade in a studio in Nottingham, cycled, cycled, to the post office and utilise reclaimed fabrics. That’s pretty mint to be fair and, we think, a genuine endorsement.
GONNA FLY NOW A new brand from two NorthEast designers has launched in Newcastle’s newest clothing store - Independant Fashion Space on Gray Street . Photography by Mark Bruce. Stylist Beth Gowland
With youth employment in Britain at its highest since the early 90’s and a rising figure of well over one million sixteen to twenty four year olds unemployed there is a slowly augmenting culture of young entrepreneurs who have decided if the job market can’t offer me a job, I’ll create one myself. A fine example of this intrepid, do-it-yourself spirit are Sunderland University Business student, Dan Potts and Northumbria University Graphics and animation student Tom Vaughan and there recently forged clothing label, Ape vs Fly. It is a ‘brand with a split personality in the form of two characters, Ape and Fly. One side of the brand being heavier graphic designs based on Japanese art and culture embodied by Ape and the other being abstract, simplistic imagery and embodied by Fly. Tom and Dan intend to make a valuable contribution to Newcastle’s expanding collection of independent clothes stores and they hope to do this ‘by exploring new combinations of styles’, melding the two worlds of Ape and Fly. The boys can be found on twitter, facebook and tumblr and if you’re interested in or inspired by local independent clothes labels we encourage you to follow their story.
PRINT: STILL AT THE APEX OF NIGHT LIFE PROMO TION
How would you describe the Ape-X sound and vibe? As a night, I would say we are more about the vibe and atmosphere we create as opposed to defining our party through one particular sound. One of the primary reasons we have been able to create this unique Ape-X spirit is that we don't have a set music policy and prefer to just stick with our guns on what we think is great music and book people that will bring something different to the table. This is backed up by a quick glance at some of our previous lineups, from legends of classic straight-up house, like DJ Sneak, to forward-thinking pace setters of the new school like Shonky and Manik. February’s bill encapsulates this ethos perfectly, as we’ve got Paul Woolford, a techno legend and pioneer in his own right, teaming up with two of the most exciting young guns from the bass music side of things. Dance music will always be a fast moving scene and if you want to remain relevant as a night we believe our best chance is to keep our ears and our horizons open, rather than getting sucked into ploughing the same niche channel of dance music culture. Who designs your marketing material and how does it relate to the brand and image of the night? We have used a variety of designers at one time or another, so our material has evolved year on year; currently we are using a logo and image designed by one of our friends Sam Hogdson, who is a very talented graphic designer from Leeds. The core ethos behind the branding and marketing materials is to avoid anything too arty or pretentious, keeping it bold, clear and crisp a lot like your magazine. Although we have used multiple designers, images of apes coupled with triangular structures have been common themes. They have always been at the core of our visuals and over the years have become synonymous with our brand name. This is in tune with the infamous
atmosphere at Ape-X, which has always been very animalistic, very primal.. In a world of social media dominance, why is flyering still effective in promoting a night? First and foremost, Exit flyering is a great opportunity to connect with our crowd; we have made a lot of new friends off the back of handing out flyers, half cut, at the end of a night. Secondly, it’s good to give people something tangible, something they can turn over in their hands. I think it lends the night a sense of authenticity that only physical media can bring. It’s a truism that social media is now the dominant outlet for promotional material, particularly within our demographic, but I think people are becoming increasingly desensitised to what’s being pushed their way online and your message can be lost amongst the white noise caused by the sheer volume of promotional material flying around. Lastly, music lovers tend to be natural collectors and we find that our flyers and posters make their way onto the walls of people’s flats and allow them to keep a memento of a great event. And at the very least they look half-decent and cover up a multitude of other sins that may lurk behind them! How do you anticipate club promotion to change in the next few years? I think it’s inevitable that the level of social media adds, Email Campaigns, QR Codes and all that jazz will continue to increase, at least in the short to medium term. That said, I think savvy brand managers have already cottoned onto the ‘Facebook fatigue’ and have stripped things back to the fundamentals, or at the least ramped up their physical and face-to-face campaigns to run in parallel with the online stuff. I also think that the more underground side of the club spectrum will increase their efforts to keep things fresh with USP’s like secret venues, exclusive warehouse spaces, one-off parties and eclectic collaborations.
SHIN W/ S TRO
NDIG SETH OXLER &
NOVEL’S CHOICE NIGHT-LIFE EVENTS MARCH/APRIL
DV8 W/ CONGO NATTY AND TENNOR FLY World Headquarters
SAMPLE CULPRIT W/ DYED SOUNDROOM Cosmic Ballroom
Rough jungle and dancehall from two UK heavyweights
The Parisian Dj brings his palette of loops and edits to Stowell Street
SHINDIG W/ JAMES ZABIELA
DOBLAR W/ LEVON VINCENT
Medicine Bar (boro)
Newcastle’s leading house night welcomes a UK leading Dj
The accomplished New York Dj & Producer visits Teesside
CRE8 W/ TEVO HOWARD, BLM & GERD Cosmic Ballroom
OUR HOUSE 2 W/ DANIEL JOBSON & OTHER LOCAL DJS Star & Shadow
Howard brings the Traditional sound of Chicago
Indie cinema stays open til 4am for this night of local talent
INFILTRATE W/ ADAM SHELTON
JAUNT W/ NINA KRAVIZ
Sheldon adds Independant to a portfolio inc. Space & Fabric
Novel Friends Jaunt invite the sultry Russian mixtress to their haunt
SHINDIG W/ SETH TROXLER & MAYA JANE COLES Hoult’s Yard
House music and Hacienda icon dropping an uplifting set upstairs
Two of 2011’s biggest Dj’s could make this the event of the year
JUMPIN’ HOT CLUB W/ MAD PROFESSOR SOUNDSYSTEM World Headquarters Dub legend Mad Prof. comes to shake Worldie’s walls
SAMPLE & MOTION W/ ART DEPARTMENT AND TALE OF US Digital Canadian synth duo bring their unpredictable music to Digital
PLEASED TO PRINT
David Burdon (second from left) is a graphic designer who recently returned to the North East after living and working in Edinburgh. David was named the ‘Fresh Face of Design’ at the 2010 Fresh Awards and his branding and design agency, Glad, were nominated for the title of ‘Design Agency of the Year’ at the 2011 Roses Design Awards. Words by David Burdon While perusing my copy of issue 06 of Novel Magazine, the call for contributions caught my attention. ‘Print is Dead’ was to be the theme of the forthcoming issue, which is of course, the issue you are now reading. As a big fan of print, I felt like I was reading the obituary of a dear friend; a friend whose death had been, until that moment, unknown to me. “We are saddened to announce that Print, born to Johannes Gutenberg in Strasbourg, Germany, circa. 1440, has sadly passed away, at age 572. Print leaves behind a legacy of having revolutionised the modern world and is survived by a family of printers now facing redundancy”
In a rush of emotion, I found myself slipping into the first of the five stages of mourning; denial. As my mind raced through all of the reasons and arguments that the death of print simply could not be possible, I knew that at some point, I would need to progress through the other four stages; anger, bargaining, depression and ultimately, acceptance. That didn’t happen, though. I didn’t get furious. I didn’t blame myself. I wasn’t depressed and most importantly, I never reached the stage of acceptance. Instead, I became convinced that print was not in fact, dead. It was all a lie.
Does the presence of digital media mean that print must cease to exist? Of course not, but it does mean that print, although not dead, may have a new role. Before I go any further with this metaphor (and I will go further, because I’m quite enjoying the drama of it), let me assure you that I’m as excited as the next man (perhaps more so, being a designer by profession) about the advances of digital communication and the creative possibilities that it brings.
Club flyers, although not dead, are dying, or at least demising. The same could be said of a lot of the largely unwelcome junk mail that only a few years ago, filled our letterboxes instead of our inboxes. It seems that print as massproduced ephemera has, indeed, seen its day. Print is no longer the primary means of mass communication; it is now a choice, a luxury. When compared to the alternative digital options, it is an expensive choice, so companies and individuals are making it for a reason and that reason is not always that they are too short-sighted or stuck in their ways to move forward. In spite of the wonders, convenience and new experiences of the digital world, we ought not to kid ourselves that everything that went before is no longer of merit. On the contrary, compare the experience of selecting your own fresh fruit and vegetables from a greengrocer to simply clicking ‘buy’ on Tesco.com. Or what about an online relationship compared to an actual, real-life date? My point is that there are experiences to be had in the real world that transcend and exist outside of our 1280x1024 pixel screens (or whatever resolution is your particular preference). Like dating and visiting the greengrocers, print can offer experiences that digital cannot. Take this example from.
The first book ever printed in Europe - heavy, luxurious, pungent and creaky - does not read particularly well on an iPhone.” Communication can now be quicker, slicker and more effective than ever. Instead of a blank page to populate with ink, anyone wishing to communicate a message now has a whole range of rich, interactive, high-definition, social, trackable and engaging arrows in their quiver. But does that mean that print is dead? Does the presence of digital media mean that print must cease to exist? Of course not, but it does mean that print, although not dead, may have a new role. Fellow Glad designers Sam Kirkby and Ant Tran attended the recently held Leeds Print Festival (the very existence of which calls into question the claim
that print is dead) at which Paul Hewitt, Managing Director of Sussex-based Generation Press gave an address in which he suggested that print is not dead, but has a new role. It’s no longer about junk mail and mass-communication. It’s the new language of luxury.
Simon Garfield’s book ‘Just My Type’. Garfield is writing about one of Gutenberg’s original Bibles, which can be viewed in the British Museum:
“The Bible is printed on paper … and has a provenance shrouded in intrigue and crossings-out on title pages. It is one of just forty-eight known surviving copies... Let’s explore this. When I was at University, you couldn’t walk into town without and each has variations in text, lineage, having several club flyers imposed upon spacing and illumination. Spectroscopy you. You would see the flyers piled up in has revealed the exact pigments used their thousands on the floor next to who- in the illuminated capitals and opening ever had the unfortunate job of handing lines, a combination of lead tin yellow, them out. Over the last couple of years, vermillion, verdigris, chalk, gypsum, lead white and carbon black. however, it seems that promoters have realised that social media and specifically, Facebook, is a cheaper and more These days, digitalisation enables us to view the copies online without the need effective way to promote these events for a trip to the Euston Road, although and get a good response.
to do so would be to deny oneself one of the great pleasures in life. The first book ever printed in Europe - heavy, luxurious, pungent and creaky does not read particularly well on an iPhone.” Garfield is right. Hanging a poster on your wall is so much more enjoyable than clicking ‘set image as wallpaper’. Holding and smelling a beautiful hand-bound book is more rewarding than scrolling up and down on a Kindle. Glasgow Press is a letterpress printshop based, surprisingly enough, in Glasgow. Letterpress printing involves inking up hot metal type or a photopolymer plate and running it through a press, forcing the design into thick paper and leaving an impression that can be felt by running your fingers over the printed area. We’ve worked with Glasgow Press on a number of jobs and think that the
It seems as though the more digitally advanced we become the stronger is our interest in physical things. work that they produce is beautiful. On a recent visit to the printshop, a friend told me of a revival that seems to be taking place within his industry. Until recently, the company was one of only a handful of letterpress printers still in operation and were producing traditional wedding invitations. Gradually, this kind of work was replaced and the press are now spending almost all of their hours printing creative business cards, stationery and packaging, commissioned by design agencies from across Britain. Dane says “It seems to us that there’s a general interest in reviving and preserving the craftsmanship of times past and letterpress printing is just such craft. In our opinion, people are placing a lot of importance on traditional skills. Letterpress fell out of favour for decades and many printers got rid of the old presses, but thankfully we’ve held on to ours and here they are back in use again.” Of all of Dane’s insightful comments, I’m most struck by this observation: “It seems as though the more digitally advanced we become the stronger is our interest in physical things.” Forget the sackcloth and ashes. Cancel the undertaker. Pull the obituary. Appropriate and beautiful printed media is here to stay. I’m off to run my fingers over some letterpressed business cards.
OLYMPIC POSTERS OF 1972 MONKWEARMOUTH STATION MUSEUM FEB 11 2012 - JUNE 5 2012 This summer’s Olympic Games are an event of profound magnitude and their anticipated significance is understandably being acknowledged by artists and arts institutions all over the world. South African born Neville Gabie was the artist in residence for Olympic Delivery Authority and his photographic reworking of the French impressionist painting, Bathers at Asnieres by George Seurat, depicting builders and workers involved in the construction of the Olympic Park, has received international media attention. In the North-East too we are linking artwork of the past with this monumental occasion as Monkwearmouth Station Museum brings to us a collection of original posters used to promote the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. These specially commissioned works were produced by contemporary artists of the day like David Hockney, Serge Paliokov, Oskar Kokoschka, Allen Jones and Max Bill. Since the Stockholm Games of 1912, every Olympic Games has had an official poster. More recent games have produced more than one poster to promote and celebrate their Games and these images have left a lasting legacy of their event. The Munich Olympics of 1972 were the twentieth modern games, a chronological landmark. The added historical significance of the event called for a special promotional campaign. From the early planning days for the Games in 1968, the Organising Committee decided that it would produce two series of posters. The first series promoted the athletic competitions of the Munich Games through high contrast photographs. The second was a series of artistic posters produced to ‘represent the intertwining of sports and art worldwide’. Twenty-eight contemporary artists of the time produced works with individualistic forms often striking and bold in order to capture the vibrancy of the event. These posters were published and proved very popular with the general public. The exhibition at Monkwearmouth Station Museum consists of 19 of the 26 original posters and runs from 11 February – 5 June 2012. Monkwearmouth Station is part of a collection of museums known as the Tyne and Wear Archives Museums, a major regional museum, art gallery and archives service. Their com-
From Munich to Monkwearmouth, a tribute to the artwork of the Olympic Games from Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums. mitment to providing free, accessible public learning resources is relentless and requires huge commitment, dedication and great skill in order to deliver exhibitions such as the Olympic Games posters. The 40 year old posters have undergone careful conservation by specialists to repair minor damage to the posters. Christina Stephenson, Conservation Officer at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums said: “The posters were in reasonable condition, but were still in need of conservation to repair and preserve them. All small tears and paper damage were repaired with delicate handmade Japanese paper, as it has a very long fibre and is flexible. To bond it, we used a gluten free wheat starch paste, which is reversible and invisible. The posters were then humidified, and gradually dried out in a large veneering press, which is traditionally used to veneer wood. “
Max Bill (1908 – 1994) Max Bill was a Swiss artist who had trained as a silversmith in Zurich before studying at the Dessau Bauhaus. He adopted the use of consistent geometric-constructive abstraction in his works and was best known for formulating the principles of Concrete Art.CRUMBLED
Oskar Kokoschka (1886 – 1980) Kokoschka was an Austrian artist who had originally trained as a goldsmith. He was best known for his intense expressionistic portraits and landscapes. He was also a respected poet and playwright.
Jo Cunningham, Manager of Sunderland Museums, said: “These posters are stunning – we’re lucky to have them in our collection and we are so pleased to be able to display them in this Olympic year. They have been immaculately repaired, and now look as striking and colourful as they did 40 years ago. “ Stephenson and Cunningham are understandably delighted and proud of the exhibition. Their dedication along with all the staff and volunteers at the Tyne and Wear Archive Museums should not go uncelebrated and should certainly not be ignored. This exhibition is not only relevant but utterly packed with intrigue. Consider the effect of viewing these posters within the framework of historical events, such as the Munich Massacre; the kidnapping and execution of athletes who participated in the games. There is also the potential for viewing the posters within a political framework, seeing as this was the first time Germany had hosted the games since the saga of the 1936 Olympic Games organised by the Nazi party. When you consider the artists, the avantegarde movement, the contrast between the propaganda then and now, all in all this really is an exhibition you can get excited about. For school pupils, students, families, couples and all.
David Hockney (1937 - ) Hockney is an English British Pop artist who studied at the Bradford College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London.
FILM: Sun 11 March 11am, Star and Shadow Cinema: Two Years At Sea (Dir. Ben Rivers, 2011, 88 min, 35mm) + Q&A, £3.50/£5 or get a Slow Cinema Weekend Pass FILM: Sun 18 March 7.30pm, Star and Shadow Cinema: Finisterrae (Dir. Sergio Caballero, 2010, 80 min) + Q&A with the director through skype, £3.50/£5 or get a Slow Cinema Weekend Pass CONCERT: Fri 23 March 9pm – 9am, Centre For Life: Steven Stapleton’s Sleep Concert, £25 including breakfast CONCERT: Sat 24 March 7pm and Sunday 25 March, 9pm, Tyne Bridge Tower: Attila Csihar: A Scrying: First and Second Action, £12 for each, or £20 for both
This year, the AV festival will be holding its most adventurous edition to date, running for an entire month (1 – 31 March) across Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough with 22 exhibitions, 34 films screenings, 15 concerts, 6 walks, and a 744-hour continuous online radio set. Here is some information on 4 of the events that we are looking forward to – but the whole programme is pretty awesome, so do check their website for more information!
The AV Festival is always curated around a theme: this year it is “As Slow As Possible”. This is a pretty daring choice, as “slow” music or films are not necessarily the ones with the widest appeal. But Rebecca Shatwell, the festival director, wanted to go against the general trend towards speed that is developing in our society, and to respond to the “faster, higher, strong” slogan of the Olympics. She wanted the festival to be a disruption in our daily routines and to “create” time to appreciate artwork. FILMS
The 34 “slow” films that will be shown are all quite different from each other. Some films are rather “traditional” in their form: with a clear narrative, specific characters and a logical sense of chronology and evolution. Other films completely depart from these conventions by not having any plot, transporting characters in unlikely settings, containing long shots that do not seem to fit in, or mixing
THROUGHOUT THE NORTH EAST MAR 1 2012 - MAR 31 2012
FILM: Sat 10 March 11am, Star and Shadow Cinema: Slow Action (Dir. Ben Rivers, 2010, 45 min, 16mm) + Q&A, £3.50/£5 or get a Slow Cinema Weekend Pass
Contemporary art is not always easy to understand, but maybe that’s precisely where its value sometimes lies? Maybe that one of its strengths is to question what art is, to fight conventions that restrict artistic expression, and to destabilise audiences and their expectations? A new opportunity to review these questions is coming up soon with the AV Festival, which will bring some of the best international experimental and contemporary music, film and exhibitions to the North East.
DISCUSSION: Fri 9 March 11am – 12.30pm, Tyneside Cinema: Slow Cinema Discussion with Ben Rivers, Fred Kelemen, Lav Diaz, Lisandro Alonso, Jonathan Romney, George Clark and Matthew Flanagan, FREE
documentary and fiction. All films, in some way, question what cinema is, and help for that art to go back to its roots, when cinema was still an “experiment”. The Spanish film Finistarrae (2010, Dir. Sergio Caballero) certainly departs from conventions. It shows two Russian-speaking ghosts who, bored with the afterlife, wish to be reincarnated. In order to get what they want, an oracle advises them to walk the St James Way, and we see them walking across deserted landscapes. The film is constantly absurd and funny; humour arises from the contrast between what we expect ghosts to be (light divine wise entities), and what they are in the film (childish beings who want to have friends). Ridiculous situations keep happening, like when a deer stalks the corridor of an opulently decorated but barren castle, while this does not relate to the plot in any way. One scene is emoted by Nico’s distinctive and appropriately haunting voice, another falsely injected with a sense of urgency through the
With the arrival of the AV Festival to Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Middlesborough, Stephanie Oswald singles out 4 events to look out for in what is the most adventurous edition of the festival to date.
Ghost Rider track by Suicide. The film is entirely disjointed, and the audience will have next to no idea what may be coming next, but they might enjoy drifting along with two stark figures through snow, fire, animal companions and talking trees. The film will be followed by a live Q&A with the director through skype, so there will be opportunities to ask questions if you’re feeling confused! AV Festival is also showing 2 films from Somerset-born Ben Rivers – and, watch this guy – he is one of the most exciting film artists around at the moment. Internationally acclaimed, he was nominated for the Derek Jarman award in 2010, and won the best short film Tiger award at Rotterdam Film Festival in 2008. His films don’t fit any easy categorisation: they sit between documentary, fiction and science-fiction, and feel a bit more like light poetic dreams. Rivers equally cites 70 post-apocalyptic films, Werner Herzog, Mann Ray or Geaorges Kuchar as his influences. He makes all his films on bolex or 16mm cameras, and his images
have this incredible grain, light and warmth that only film stock can produce. He films people in their everyday lives – generally hermits, men living isolated in the forest. “I’ve got an idealistic vision of what it might be like to live in a hut in the woods. It’s maybe a bit of a dream of mine” he says. The AV festival will show 2 of his films on 10 and 11 March: Slow Action (2010, 45 min, 16mm – a mix of documentary and sci-fi) and Two Years At Sea (2011, 88 min, 35mm). This latter film is Ben Rivers’ first feature film: it shows Jake, an old Scottish man living alone in the forest, going for walks and having naps in fields. It’s much more than a documentary though. Ben Rivers will be present for a Q&A after each of these screenings and we wholeheartedly recommend you to go – this guy is a genius!
has taken place in various places in Europe, and this is a The music programme centres UK premiere. around minimalism (which might contain drones, musical On Sat 24 and Sunday 25 repetition or long sustained March, a couple of exciting tones) and noise. The acts concerts will be performed selected certainly don’t follow by Attila Csihar, a Hungarusual commercial music-mak- ian black metal vocalist – he ing rules, but they force us to is the baritone voice of the re-think what music and what American band Sunn 0))). In rhythm are, and to disturb the the unusual location of Tyne eternal verse-chorus diptych. Bridge Tower, Attila Csihar will be presenting his first solo duOn Fri 23 March, the AV has rational work. Inspired by 16th programmed a concert of century rituals aiming at seeing another kind: it will be playing the future through mediums, for 12 hours, from 9pm to the artist will be using a text 9am – during which time you written in a language that will get a bed and breakfast 16th century scientists claimed in the morning. It is Steven was dictated by angels. A Stapleton’s appropriately performance “propelling you entitled Sleep Concert. Steven into the future” – be ready for Stapleton, a British musician the unexpected. of experimental and improv music, is one of the pioneers It is impossible to cover the of the British Industrial scene, whole AV festival in the remit and a founding member of of this article, but do check the band Nurse with Wound. their other events – the festival director has selected all acts Ben Rivers’ films will be shown During the concert, Steven Stapleton will be DJing and with great care, and even if as part of the Slow Cinema Weekend, which will feature manipulating some of his own some of it might sound a little recordings, making mesmerunsettling, we can only enscreenings and discussions courage you to be adventurfrom Thu 8 to Sun 11, and for izing sound mantras and which 4 directors will be pre- drones; it will softly lead you to ous, go towards the unknown asleep, and it will keep going and let yourself be surprised! sent to introduce their films. during the night. This concert
interview: JEREMY LESLIE
Dan Howarth conducts an interview with one of the magazine industry’s most respected designers, Jeremy Leslie (magculture.com), who argues that print and online media not only can, but will co-exist. Photograph taken by Samuel Ashby
PRINT IS DEAD LONG LIVE PRINT
[*we jest, of course. London remains an active inland port, and is home to the UK’s third largest container operation (source: The Economist).]
number for independent men’s title Port in the bag. Elsewhere, he runs publishing events (including Printout!, Making Magazines and erstwhile conference Colophon) and writes an influential blog on editorial design, whilst crafting his own work, under the banner of magCulture. Naturally, he’s been trying to wangle a placement at Novel for months. Dan Howarth asks him the frankly silly question, “Is print dead?”, and is relieved to get a serious answer. “It’s certainly not dead and it’s never going to be,” Leslie proclaims decisively. “It might make a sexy headline, but people have been saying it for so long that it’s becoming anachronistic. Print refuses to die.” I only have to glance beyond Leslie’s trademark silver locks into the pixelated background of his office for evidence: a wall of magazines, collected from all over the world, stands in defiance of our web-enabled interview.
Jeremy Leslie is one such hopeful. The veteran design impresario – who counts entertainment bible Time Out, Sky: The Magazine (then the biggest-circulation magazine in the UK), and a 2010 redesign of FHM among his seed – is now turning his hand to iPad apps, with a particularly slick
“This call is a case in point: we couldn’t earn our living without the internet,” he says. “My work is still print-orientated, but the web is essential for it to happen. Print and digital are absolutely interdependent, they’re not replacing each other.” Leslie points out that instead
Every once in a while, Novel lifts its head above the relentless North East media machine, and casts an eye on our less prosperous neighbours. In London, a former inland port near Slough*, bright-eyed media hopefuls spice-up their CVs in preparation for that vital pilgrimage up the A1.
of strangling print, the web has brought about its democratization. As software like QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign took complex practices like typesetting away from the factory floor, allowing nimble-fingered punters to achieve often better results on desktop computers in offices and bedrooms alike, the web has opened up another previously elite practice to the masses: distribution.
“When I was at university I produced a music fanzine with a friend, and the only way I could sell it was to hang around outside gigs in South West London,” he says. “We used a manual typewriter, photocopier and stapler to put it together. It was pathetic really, I wouldn’t be able to get away with that now. The quality of fanzines has improved significantly. And now instead of reaching a few hundred readers in South West London, you can reach a few thousand spread across the world.” But with all the noise made by countless bloggers and indy publishers online, isn’t it a myth that the web gives you access to this vast global network of salivating readers? It all comes down to quality, says Leslie. “If you make
T D E T
something and it’s good enough to be of interest to people, then you really have to fuck up to not get it in front of them. Whether or not they’ll buy it and allow you to make a living out of it is another question.” So the web may be no passport to riches, but nor was traditional publishing – as an independent at least. Like all businesses, profits come with economies of scale. And for mainstream publishers, high-circulation magazines have long been a licence to print money. “The magazine industry, just like banking and property, had a great time over the last 20 years. There was a massive boom, and the industry was commanding enormous advertising rates in the nineties and noughties,” says Leslie. ”But many magazines ended up losing sight of quality in favour of quantity, and publishers became greedy in some respects. Now they’re frustrated that markets are closing, but that’s part of the ups and downs of being in business.” Times are particularly hard for lads’ mags. February’s ABC figures show a 20% drop in circulation for FHM, Zoo and Nuts, and a 30% drop for Loaded – a continuing decline that’s already claimed the scalps of Maxim and Arena in the UK. It’s present elsewhere too, albeit less dramatically, with trade body, the PPA, announcing an average drop of 1.4% in sales of consumer magazines as a whole. “Behind the percentages, these magazines are still selling a lot, though not as much as they used to. They’re suffering for all sorts of reasons, and some things like celebrity gossip are undoubtedly served better online – MailOnline being a prime example. Should you assume, for instance, that Heat deserves to forever be a success because it did so well 10 years ago? Magazines have to respond to the world they’re in. “If you look back at early Loaded and its ilk, they were very funny magazines. They caught the zeitgeist of the era, and were far more intelligent than Nuts and Zoo, which pander to the lowest common denominator. Does this mean men have changed? With the ABCs, you could make a case that as Private Eye, The Week and The Economist are all increasing
their readership, while lads’ mags nosedive, then everyone must be getting more intelligent. It’s not the case at all – what once was new and titillating has become a rough and tough industry, and people are getting bored of it. The reality is that most things fail for a good reason, and I don’t think anyone will be depressed to see them go.” As old titles close, new ones are born, and the web is cultivating a diverse independent print industry – notably with the help of businesses like Stack Magazines, a curated subscription service, and Newspaper Club, which lets people make magazines in newsprint. Tellingly, “the end of print” was coined as a phrase in reference to the work of David Carson, whose unique approach to typography – showcased by RayGun magazine in the early 1990s – inverted the traditional conventions of print design. Now independent titles like Wooooo (a paperback), Monocle (a veritable
“It’s certainly not dead and it’s never going to be,” Leslie proclaims decisively. “It might make a sexy headline, but people have been saying it for so long that it’s becoming anachronistic. Print refuses to die.” tome) and Afro (your guess is as good as ours) are doing the same with print formats. Likewise, the iPad presents a new wave of opportunity which Leslie is exploring. “There are massive differences between designing for print and designing for the iPad. Some basic techniques are the same, it’s about graphic design after all, but the tools you use and the way you encourage the reader to interrogate the content are completely different.” If developing an innovative yet functional magazine experience for the iPad was his first challenge, then Leslie has clearly cracked it with Port. Its smooth interface and reflection of the print magazine’s slow reading style are a triumph
of subtlety. But again, the business model proves elusive – beyond the industry, few people have downloaded it. “No one is yet making any money out of selling magazine apps,” says Leslie, “and whether they’re selling for £1.99 or £3.99, they’re not covering their costs.” Publishers vary between fully-interactive apps and crude reproductions of print editions, but it’s too soon to judge the best approach, says Leslie. “We’re so early in the process of development that it’s difficult to know. Publishers have different models and they’re still trying to figure it out. Condé Nast’s Wired was the archetype – an experimental app with lots of effects – which many tried to emulate, but with talk of the iPad 3 coming with a screen twice the resolution of its predecessor, and file sizes therefore being up to 35% bigger, even Wired realises it may have to tone down in favour of speed. “The magazine business can be slow to respond to things. Early in the first internet bubble, a lot of people got their hands burned with plans to do magazines as websites. So people have been reluctant to invest, with a few notable exceptions like Condé Nast. There’s a bigger question mark now than there ever was.” Until the web can cough-up a business model that consumes print publishing, it seems like the tactile page is safe. And it stubbornly remains a format which engenders the most innovation. “If you’re clever with magazines, you’re taking advantage of print – either in a subtle way in terms of binding or adding a bit of gold foil blocking on the cover, or it might be a completely new format that no one has ever seen before,” Leslie concludes. “The trick is to be new and different, not just in terms of look and format, but also quality of content. Quality is the key to success.” Like the trees that bear them, printed magazines are here to stay – sustainable forestry permitting of course. It’s the trite ideas that are dying, and maybe the ‘print is dead’ argument should be one of them. You can follow Jeremy Leslie’s magazine insights on his blog at magCulture.com
AN ELEGY FOR THE DARKROOM
A detailed account of the passion and paraphernalia required to produce dark room photography from the ever erudite, Toby Lipman. Photograph by Kerry Kitchin.
Last November I visited the arboretum at Dawyck near Peebles to see the autumn colours. Naturally I took my camera – a Nikon D70 Single Lens Reflex with an 18mm to 70mm zoom lens. I made 63 exposures and, back home, downloaded them via a USB cable to my laptop. Within a couple of minutes I was able to view them, and one took my fancy enough to set it as the desktop background. The file tells me that it was taken at 2.41pm on 13th November 2011 with the lens set at 50mm focal length, shutter speed 1/60 second and aperture f5.6, with ISO set at 250. The D70 is now somewhat venerable as digital cameras go, and more modern cameras incorporate GPS technology which would also record the exact location of the photograph. If necessary, I could adjust the colour balance, manipulate the image or send it by email anywhere in the world. It is a colour photograph but could be altered to black and white with a few key strokes. It’s all quick, convenient and very easy. What I am unlikely to do is to print it on paper. Apart from anything else, the cost of ink (over £50 the last time I bought a set of cartridges) and the rate at which it runs out, make printing unattractive these days. But imagine me, thirty years ago, spending a day making photographs. I take two cameras, a Pentax MX and a Pentax LX, each loaded with different 35mm film. I carry a selection of lenses: fast 50mm standard lenses, a 28mm f3.5 Pentax wide angle lens, a 135mm f5.6 Tamron medium telephoto
“Only an incurable romantic would want to handle chemicals, squint through focus finders, or blunder about in the dark just to produce photographic prints.” lens, perhaps a zoom lens (but I am suspicious of zoom lenses as they are thought not to give so sharp an image as fixed focal length lenses and have a smaller aperture, hence require longer exposures). In my camera bag are lens hoods, filters and spare cassettes of film. Will I take colour or black and white, or a mixture of the two? If colour, will it be negative or transparency? If black and white, will it be fast film rated as 400 ISO (usually Kodak Tri-X), which allows higher
shutter speeds in low light conditions, but at the cost of coarser grain (caused by the tiny particles of silver halides that react to light in order to form the image). Conversely, a slow film such as Ilford Pan-F, rated at 50 ISO, produces an image with much finer grain but requires an exposure roughly eight times as long as Tri-X, which means that I may have to take a tripod to avoid blurred pictures due to camera shake. (With a
There are dark stains on the floorboards and a slightly sulphurous, vinegary stench which in my memory vividly recalls the magic of what follows” digital camera the ISO rating can be adjusted from one shot to the next). Slow films give images with greater contrast than fast films, but paradoxically the contrast can be increased by “pushing” the film when it is developed, which means under-exposing the film. Thus Ilford FP4, rated at ISO 125, which is a good compromise (medium speed, medium contrast, medium grain), can be made slightly more brilliant and more grainy by exposing it at 200ISO (roughly one shutter speed faster) and using Microphen developer rather than the standard ID-11. On returning home I can’t just download the images. The films must be developed and prints made from the negatives or colour transparencies. Transparencies can be mounted and projected onto a screen, but they can also be printed using the Cibachrome process. I could get the films professionally processed, but instead I go into my darkroom, a blacked out spare bedroom full of boxes of paper, chemicals, an enlarger, print developing trays and all the nerdy paraphernalia of the amateur photographer. There are dark stains on the floorboards and a slightly sulphurous, vinegary stench which in my memory vividly recalls the magic of what follows. I remove the cassettes from the cameras using scissors to trim the film. Then I turn off the lights. I open the cassettes and, working in total darkness, trim the films with scissors and thread them onto spiral film holders which I insert into the cylindrical developing tanks. Now I can work in the light. I prepare the
developer, ensure it is at the correct temperature, pour it into the tank and set the clockwork timer. I invert and agitate the tank at predetermined intervals, then drain it when the timer reaches zero, pour in water to wash the remaining developer off the film, drain it again, add fixing solution which removes any remaining silver halide that has not reacted to the light of the exposures, drain and wash again, then hang up the developed film to dry over the bath. I can get a rough idea how the resulting negative images have turned out at this stage, but I must be patient and let the film dry thoroughly before the next stage. When the film is completely dry, I cut it into strips, each with six exposures, and insert them into A4 sized transparent film envelopes. Then I prepare to print. First I need to set out three trays. The left tray will contain developing solution, the middle water, and the one on the right fixing solution, replicating the process of developing the film, but
a photographic negative is equivalent to a musical score, while the print is the performance. in reverse, so that what is light in the negative will be dark on the print and vice versa. Then I make a contact sheet of all the negatives by placing them in their envelope over a sheet of photographic paper and exposing it to white light for a few seconds. I place the paper in the developing tray and watch the images gradually emerging in the dim red light. Into the wash tray, then fix and turn on the overhead light to look at the pictures properly. Out of 36 exposures on a roll of film there may be fewer than 10 that are really worth printing. It’s not just the subject and composition, there has to be appropriate gradation of tonal values and the image has to be sharp (if that is what was intended). The great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams said that a photographic negative is equivalent to a musical score, while the print is the performance. There is therefore no single correct way to print a photograph. The negatives are placed in an enlarger, which is really a projector facing towards the floor. There are
all sorts of choices to be made. Should I quickly print off every exposure on postcard sized paper? Or should I concentrate on the few I think will make really good prints on larger sheets? Should I use resincoated paper (easy to use and quick drying), or fibre-based paper (takes ages to dry, more expensive, but can produce more beautiful results)? How ‘contrasty’ do I want the image to be? Paper is sold either as ‘multigrade’ (which uses coloured filters in the enlarger to vary the contrast in the developed image) or single grade paper. By varying the length of exposure I can make the image darker or lighter. I can also expose different parts of the image for different lengths of time by ‘dodging and burning’. I might want to make the sky darker but still retain detail in the rest of a landscape, so, after a few seconds, will block the light to part of the paper using my hand or a template cut to the shape of the area I want to obscure. I make a quick test strip (gradually exposing more of the paper so as to judge how long to expose the actual print). Then I place a sheet of photographic paper in a masking frame and, with a red filter to prevent premature exposure, adjust the height of the enlarger to achieve the desired image size. I focus the enlarger, using a focus finder to see the individual silver grains, ensuring that the image is sharp. I remove the red filter, make my timed exposure, develop, wash and fix the print, wash it again in running water, and hang it up to dry. As it dries, the tones become more intense. Most prints are adequate, but the best, usually black and white on high quality fibrebased paper, are infinitely more beautiful than anything you can achieve with a domestic ink jet. Darkroom printing is now obsolete, like sailing ships or steam locomotives. Digital photography is a technological marvel - efficient, convenient, democratic. I can view almost 6,000 photographs on my laptop or iPod, edit them, print them, distribute them around the world. Only an incurable romantic would want to handle chemicals, squint through focus finders, or blunder about in the dark just to produce photographic prints. The old manual skills and the subtle knowledge that informed them are fading away, displaced by the hi-tech wizardry of software and the inkjet printer. Progress can’t be ignored; its benefits are too great.
ANALOGUE REVOLUTION In an increasingly digital society, film photography has all but died out. But, as Marian Shek has discovered, rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
and best loved, is a red Holga, now battered and sealed with black tape to prevent light leaks, which he got as a birthday present nearly three years ago. Chris takes his cameras with him as he travels for work, shooting anything that catches his eye, producing images that are enchanting, impressionistic and almost painterly. Even one of his ‘mistakes’ is beautifully rich in reds and blues. His photos have been featured in several galleries and small exhibitions, including Trent House Gallery in Newcastle and This is Lo-fi, an event he organised. Chris is not the only one – more and more people are engaging in this eccentric pastime. It seems that digital technology, with its exponential advancements, ease of use, and increasing ubiquity, has yet to kill off the humble film camera. “The Demekin takes 110 film which, sadly, they’ve stopped making. I have to buy expired stock on eBay,” says Chris. This is a familiar story for analogue film formats. In 2008, Polaroid announced they were discontinuing its iconic instant film. And this January, Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection and suspended its shares, as the company struggles with the transition from film photography to digital imaging. The future of its film production hangs in the balance. The company that has been the most successful at riding this wave of nostalgia for analogue photography is Lomography. At the forefront of this movement, they seem unaware of the crisis the medium of film is facing. “We see no decline in 35mm film sales – quite the opposite,” says Lisa Scott, a spokesperson for Lomography UK.
Old Eldon Square in Newcastle is known as Hippy Green. True to its name, it is where teenagers have always gathered to rebel against conformity. The current inhabitants of this infamous square are a wonderfully garish breed of teen Goths. Despite attempts to regenerate and gentrify this area into a thoroughly modern plaza, its old associations are hard to shake. Hippy Green’s unconventional past is at odds with its new surroundings. It remains a symbol of the alternative ways we have come to inhabit our ever faster, shinier century. Fitting then, that I’ve come to the nearby Starbucks to talk to business
consultant Chris Trew about his secret second life. At one point, he pulls out a tiny black box, a couple of inches across, with a large circle on the front. It’s a plasticky, palm-sized delight, like something out of a 1970s spy movie. “This is a Demekin Fish Eye from Japan. I’ve taken some good pictures with that,” says Chris, proudly. Chris, 49, is one of the region’s keenest and most talented toy camera photographers. He owns over twenty film cameras of different styles, shapes and sizes, but his passion is shooting with plastic cameras. His first,
Specialising in film cameras with fun and quirky effects – from fisheye lenses and multishot cameras to swankier twin-lens cameras (costing between £29 to £379) – Lomography has become synonymous with the toy camera phenomenon. Chris’s beloved Holga is one of Lomography’s most popular models. In the same year artist Tacita Dean mourned the demise of 35mm film in her monumental Turbine Hall installation at the Tate Modern, simply named FILM, Lomography defiantly launched the LomoKino, a movie camera that takes the aforementioned doomed 35mm. This Lomo-fuelled hunger for film has
led to the opening of a LomoLab in East London, which processes all manner of film formats, with special techniques such as cross processing (a treatment that produces crazy colour-drenched images). With plans to open more LomoLabs, they have certainly found a growing gap in the market – specialist labs across the country are closing down, and you certainly won’t get these services in your local Boots. So why, when digital cameras and smartphones are getting cheaper and increasingly close to professional standard, is analogue photography making a comeback? Have we spoken too soon on the fate of film? “That’s an interesting question,” says Eve Forrest, who is writing a PhD with the title ‘On Photography and Movement: Bodies, Habits and Worlds in Everyday Photographic Practice’ at the University of Sunderland. “Some people would say that analogue photography never went away. Highend film cameras, SLRs (single lens reflex cameras), give just as good results as digital cameras and many photographers shoot with both film and digital. However, the toy camera / Lomography phenomenon is a slightly different issue.” Since its serendipitous beginnings in 1991, when two Viennese students rediscovered the Russian Lomo Kompakt Automat and the artistic, dreamy, off-kilter shots it produced – a style of photography that has become known as “lomography” – the company has all but achieved
world domination. There are now Lomography stores in over twentyfive cities around the world. In the UK alone, two London stores have been established since 2009, and another was opened in Manchester last December. How has Lomography achieved this special alchemy of flourishing where others are failing?
What lo-fi photography offers is the capturing of the moment in its purest form – which takes focus, time and thought on the part of the photographer. “As a brand, Lomography has been highly successful at building the image of what a ‘lomography photographer’ is: creative, experimental, playful,” says Eve. This is reflected in the brand’s early adoption by hyper-trendy, hipster types. Urban Outfitters and art gallery BALTIC were among the first places to stock the cameras. The brand hit the zeitgeist head on by tapping into the vintage and retro trend, which has been in the air since the last decade. Some of the cameras are updates of retro originals, so they are like funky accessories from a bygone era. The aesthetics of the kit are no doubt part of its appeal, where form is just as important as function. And the look of the pictures hark back to a pre-digital age, evoking the same nostalgia as
the grainy photos you find in your grandparents’ attic. This explains the proliferation of smartphone apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram, not to mention the use of Photoshop to mimic analogue effects. But for analogue-lovers, the difference is all too obvious – “I’ve used an app before, but I would never show those photos to anyone – it feels too much like cheating on my Holga,” says Chris. The magic of Lomography is more than just the superficial look of the photos. With a digital camera, you have an immediate result and you can take as many second-rate photos as you want until you have the perfect one. Some people go as far as airbrushing out their spots afterwards. Paradoxically, even though digital cameras are taking more life-like pictures, we’re separated incrementally from the reality of the moment – the image becomes hyper-real.
What lo-fi photography offers is the capturing of the moment in its purest form – which takes focus, time and thought on the part of the photographer. This is why Chris uses these cameras as he does a fountain pen – he is forced to slow down and focus on what he is doing, especially since (when the cost of film and development is factored in) one photo can cost up to £1. It is an inexact science, though. “Toy cameras are cheap to produce and give frustratingly sporadic results,” says Eve. “You need to know about light and contrast (and photography) in order to get any decent results from them.” In another twist to the analogue versus digital debate, Lomography continues to thrive through online communities – on Flickr, Facebook, and the Lomography website itself – who share tips and advice on how to experiment with film. These cyber communities translate into real-world meetings and workshops, like Chris’s Newcastle-based ‘Lo-fi Photography’ Facebook group that meets up regularly for photo-walks. Though Lomography is not the be all and end all of toy cameras, they have managed to capture the magic of photography and wrap it up in brightly coloured plastic boxes, packaged as an accessible alternative to the flawless and failsafe world of digital photography.
That such passion for analogue photography exists will hopefully keep the medium alive for a while yet, alongside the onslaught of digital. The world would be a blander place if all our images were immaculate, without one pixel out of place. It would be as if Hippy Green were to disappear from the Newcastle cityscape, leaving a lack of character in an otherwise homogenous high street. And, just like Hippy Green, the analogue photography scene continues to change and adapt with each generation, who seek to express themselves through experimentation.
david holbrook photo.co.uk
IMAGES COURTESY OF LOMOGRAPHY UK
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THEY SAY PRINT IS DEAD... In this exclusive trans-media piece, Duncan Rickelton of AmazingStuff. co.uk dances wildly along the border between the web and the world to check print, in its various forms, for signs of life.
Go to AmazingStuff.co.uk/printisdead for the conclusion in the form of an interactive digital artwork -- but first see if you can spot the message hidden in this article...
...so what’s that on your arse? Printing on the skin, occasionally known as ‘tattooing’, has been a transcultural practice for centuries. From the magnificent traditional full-body artworks on Japanese Yakuza gangsters, to glow in the dark designs done with UV ink (see AmazingStuff.co.uk for pics of both), it is still a truly thriving form of art. Actually, tattooing is so strongly embedded in our own cultural heritage that we all take our name from it. Yes. What? Well, ‘Britons’ originally translated as ‘people of the designs’, while ‘Picts’ (the early Geordies) meant ‘the painted people’. Now don’t you feel about a thousand times cooler? ...so why is everyone printing?
In 2009, Alexander Lebedev, Russian oligarch and former KGB agent (aren’t they all?), purchased the London Evening Standard newspaper for £1. In 2010, he then purchased The Independent, also for £1. Fairly decent bargains for a man worth £2 billion, but the papers were struggling and Lebedev had a plan to turn them around. Almost immediately, he made the Standard free and created The Independent’s new little brother, the 20p i paper. Since these new versions went to print, the Standard has trebled its circulation and i is by far the fastest growing national newspaper; already outselling The Independent. Of course, this brings a big increase in ad revenue for both newspapers. As you might have noticed, these newspapers are not the only ones to take this reader-friendly approach (ahem)*. In fact, it seems that there have never been so many free papers and magazines. So maybe print isn’t dying, but just getting a lot cheaper? *If you want to be part of the Novel success story, email email@example.com to get your ad in the next issue! ...so why is everyone wearing that mask? Worn by online activist groups Anonymous and Occupy, and general anti-capitalists across the world, ‘that Guy Fawkes mask’ is one of the most iconic images of recent times -- not to mention the top-selling mask on Amazon.com. It is, of course, the chosen disguise of ‘V’, the anarchic protagonist in the 2005 film V for Vendetta. But do you think the suits at Warner Brothers came up with this classic rebel, his vendetta or his mask? No, they did not. The man who did was graphic novelist Alan Moore. A God-like figure in the world of comic writing, Moore created V for Vendetta in the eighties as a 10-part series in his medium of choice: print. It was a landmark work. Although several of Moore’s works have been adapted into films -- From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchmen, as well as V for Vendetta -- Moore has always objected to it. He has said: “If we only see comics in relation to movies then the best that they will ever be is films that do not move. I found it, in the mid 80s, preferable to concentrate on those things that only comics could achieve. The way in which a tremendous amount of information could be included visually in every panel, the juxtapositions between what a character was saying, and what the image that the reader was looking at would be. So in a sense… most of my work from the 80s onwards was designed to be un-filmable.” ...so why do I have to type all these nonsense words? You know these are strange and trying days when you have to keep on proving to a computer that you’re a human by typing nonsense words into a little box. But ‘captchas’, as they are known, are not there just to make your life shit. They were originally designed to prevent automated spam bots from spamming everything to shreds (because no software can read the distorted images of print), but Google has an ingenious second use for them through its reCAPTCHA scheme. The benevolent boss of the web has decided that the world’s books ought to be available in digital form. Digital print is easier to transport, accessible to all and easily searchable (as anyone who has tried to press Ctrl+F on a book will know). Big daddy Google is therefore scanning in every single page of print it can lay its big, spidery hands on and running the images through optical character recognition (OCR) software to convert them into fully searchable digital text. Unfortunately, OCR software can be pretty rubbish at OCR, so every word it gets stuck on is automatically fed into a reCAPTCHA for a random, furious human to decode. Together we decode around 200 million a day, changing the face of print forever.
...so how are people still getting pwn3d by 1337 H4x0rz? Ironically, while Google is trying its best to turn garbled print into readable words, humans (typically awkward) are trying their best to make ordinary print incomprehensible. We’re all well aware of the confused mess textspeak got us into for a while. But now we’re over that: ‘R u goin 2 c tht Shkspr play dis wknd?’ now trips off the thumbs of old people, while most youngsters don’t even know that words used to be written without numbers in them. Despite annoying the hell out of ne1 with a brain, textspeak has two clear advantages: it’s shorter, and it can be faster (for imbeciles). However, it has an obscure and deformed cousin of which the same cannot be said. 1337 or leetspeak (as in ‘elite speak’) is mainly used by h4x0rz (hackers) and gamers for the sole purpose of obscuring their meaning from forum censors and excluding fawning, supplicant n00bs (newbies) from their geeky banter. 1337 statements are formed by replacing normal letters with any combination of other characters that can be made to vaguely resemble the word, or a 1337 variation of the word. Each word can be printed in a number of different ways; the less it resembles the original word, the more 1337 you have to be to decode it. Having developed exclusively online, 1337 is a printed language only. It has pwn3d (owned - typing ‘p’ instead of ‘o’ is a common typo, but only the 1337 realise this) many a n00b that has tried to pronounce it, and \/\/R171|\|9 it by hand would be... pointless and $#!+. ...so how are judges using it to write codes? In 2006, The Honourable Mr Justice Peter Smith, Knight of the Realm, presided over the Da Vinci Code copyright trial. Author Dan Brown was accused of plagiarising an earlier bestseller, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which is about similar arcane codes and hidden messages. The trial concluded with Justice Smith’s ruling that copyright had not been breached. Then matters took a curious turn. Keen observers noticed that within the printed judgment, occasional and apparently random letters had been italicised. Intrepid media journalist and lawyer Dan Tench was going to pass them off as typos until he received an email from Justice Smith himself advising him to scrutinise paragraph one of the judgment more closely. To Tench’s astonishment he then discovered that the first 10 italicised letters spelled out ‘Smithy code’. The rest of the message was, of course, gibberish. It cost Tench a whole lot of holy blood, sweat and tears, but after a few hints from the sneaky judge, he managed to decrypt the Fibonacci sequence-based cipher. Unfortunately, he did not get the holy grail, just the following, fairly disappointing message: ‘Jackie Fisher, who are you? Dreadnought.’ It was a reference to a bygone British Admiral who designed the battleship HMS Dreadnought, in whom the conniving Justice Smith had a particular interest. Well, it was a nice idea anyway, and an example of how print can still surprise us in the most unlikely of contexts!
...so what’s that all over the toilet wall? ‘Since writing on toilet walls is done for neither critical acclaim, nor financial rewards, it is the purest form of art. Discuss.’ So reads one infamous piece of toilet wall graffiti. The toilet wall is the forum of choice for lonely hearts and lost souls; philosophers and artists; drunks, bums, junkies and whores; and everyone, without exception, loves reading it. ‘Equal are we all, before the toilet wall,’ is one line I might write when my own toilet wall moment comes. But one thing is for sure: whatever it is I wish to express at that time will not be done in spoken word, nor will I make a video of it. This sensitive public dialogue, the foundation of any democracy, can only ever consist in the anonymous printing of our basest and most inspired thoughts, in Tippex, on the piss-slick concrete toilet wall.
...so how come it’s saving the world? As I have deftly shown, print (interpreted broadly...) takes many forms, but it is never more alive than when words are formed by thousands of living bodies, as part of a campaign to sustain life on our planet. 350.org are a campaign group who regularly use human beings (with their consent) to create ‘Earth Art’ like this to raise awareness about the plight of our planet (see AmazingStuff.co.uk for pics). The 350 in their name refers to the level of carbon dioxide -- 350 ppm (parts per million) -- that scientists say we need to maintain in the atmosphere in order to preserve life on our planet. The current level is around 392 ppm. So the planet may be dying, but...
Go to AmazingStuff.co.uk/printisdead for the conclusion in the form of an interactive digital artwork -- but first see if you can spot the message hidden in this article...
PRINT ISN’T DEAD YET
ject raises the question of whether or not we are turning into a human centipede. Do we just consume and reproduce each other’s crap, instead of relying on accurate and verified information?
the form of Sunday papers, tabloids, magazines and books.
The essence of media hasn’t altered, only the platform. We are facing a movement of content from one medium to another. The Due to the bulk of information means of distribution might be different, but the focus should remain Words by Maria Loupa. circulating online, ‘sloppy’ news stories are regularly published. The on the information. Of course, print Illustrations by Thomas Boyle emergence of ‘churnalism’ (when will suffer a slow death. Few parts of it will eventually survive, but it will (centre) Jamie Ludlam (right) journalists reproduce information released by PR agencies/Press Asshift shape many times, sociations without checking, to save evolve, and adapt to The digital revolution in the media time and money) is increasingly new markets. Our effort industry has shaken the tectonic prominent. Therefore, much online plates of print media to their very core, forcing alterations and adjust- journalism lacks quality and in-depth analysis, as stories are updated by ments in order to comply with the new world order. The web’s impact the minute. Quality is sacrificed for on the field is more challenging than the sake of quantity, leading the readers to information overload. ever. Few dare to predict the future of the profession with certainty. According to the University of Southern California’s Center for the Digital Future, in five years most US newspapers will close down. This may vary from country to country but the bottom line is that the majority of newspapers will probably become obsolete in the near future. There will be unexpected merges and vast changes in the landscape of the field. A handful of the biggest and smallest firms will survive, the ones in the middle won’t. Strong brands will On the other hand, I hate to admit, keep functioning as status emblems, the internet is a very powerful chan- and combined with solid, experienced reporting, readership should nel of communication. In the “glocal” (global and local) communities be maintained. that we currently live in, it is impossible to gather all the news required Local press will largely survive, due to the loyal and very specific target unless using the web. Sound, still readership groups. It was never the and moving images are now used youngsters who kept these papers to enhance the media experience going. The proof of print’s survival and expand the reach of the written word. It is essential that you see lies in real life examples, and there is a perfect one I would like to share. what you hear and vice versa. A couple of months ago, JesmondThe minute a story is released online, local (a hyper-local online newspaper for the Jesmond area), Novel the transparency of sources is and a team of ambitious and eager constructive at the very least. The journalists, editors, illustrators and author can instantly react with the photographers, gathered at the readership, be judged, get feedBaltic to execute a delusional plan: back, and exchange opinions. He create a 48 hour pop-up magazine can be inspired and motivated by about the Turner Prize, in an effort the comments, form a better idea of the public’s needs and eventually to engage as many people as possatisfy them. Moreover, the upcom- sible in the Turner Prize and art on the whole. The task was successfully ing trend of community journalism and citizen journalists gives voice to met; the most invaluable lesson more people. Online databases al- this experience taught us was that low easy and fast access, leading to print is not at all dead, at least not on a local level. Advertisers were the emergence of the ‘prosumer’; more interested to participate in the a new kind of consumer who is accustomed to social media and both project than they were for any other online template we have produced produces and consumes all the in the past. Print might not be the messages he/she wants. However, this unlimited freedom in expressing primary or most profitable means of one’s opinion on every possible sub- media, but it will still be around, in Many suggest that much like paper photographs, written press will all but disappear. For some, including myself, print still serves its purpose, and we aren’t quite ready to let go yet. Real life interaction can be experienced through print; it is more physical and tangible. Print engages memories and sentiments; it is text that lives outside a screen. Take a minute and breathe in the distinctive smell of the magazine in your hands. Would you change that feeling for the online alternative?
though should not focus on the resuscitation of print media. The Golden Age of print journalism’s information monopoly is long gone. Unfortunately, the relation between print an online media is a zero-sum game; one has to fail for the other one to prosper. This is because the internet almost eliminates the cost of production and distribution, so it will be a challenge for print media to compete with free online media going forward. Gradually, both professionals and audience are getting used to the pattern of free circulation, which at this point seems irreversible. Online subscriptions- much like in NY Times casehave predominantly failed. When a service previously free goes private, the percentage of digital ads
and traffic revenue go downhill. The truth is, news organizations never entirely relied on subscriptions for profit. The big money came from advertising and stocks. For online media, there is no direct payment. Indirect funding services are the future, like ad integration features and valueadd services. Banner advertising is no longer a successful option; there are already applications out there, which can successfully remove all ads from a page. The reality is
under the current economic climate advertising revenues are falling for both traditional and online media, regardless of sector. Both traditional and new media are struggling to adapt to these environmental pressures and maintain profits. But as author Elbert Hubbard puts it: â€œThe world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it canâ€™t be done, is generally interrupted by someone doing it.â€? So where does this leave the journalist? Being innovative and keeping an open mind is the only way to be part of the change. Incomes will have to be earned through various avenues and later retirement will be imposed. Journalists will have to follow alternative paths to make a living like consulting, blogging, teaching or writing books. They will need to experiment with the profitable possibilities of new and creative business models. As journalists, we should constantly struggle to acquire new skills and keep up with the pace in order to survive an everchanging world.
Once again our games editor Michael Finnigan reviews two indie games available to download and play on your PC/Mac. If you’ve enjoyed reading Michael’s reviews or just fancy a chin-wag you can follow him on Twitter: @Finniruse
Lights out. Headphones in. Subtitles OFF. Dear Esther begins with a man, you, standing on the dock of an uninhabited Hebridean Island looking towards an abandoned lighthouse. Way above sea level is a blinking red eye that watches over your every movement, inescapable and malevolent. “Dear Esther, I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been here,” the melancholy narrator reads from a letter to his deceased wife. As he speaks the sound of the wind blows in my ears and sends reallife chills down my spine - so much so that I have to reach for my jacket. But what is this island, why am I here and why is it having such a physical effect on my person?
rocks the doodlings of a mad scientist or a reference to the morphine that is being administered as the narrator lies dying on the roadside? The eerie atmosphere is enhanced by the exquisite music and sound effects. Equally, the writing is at times sublime: “I cram diazepam as I once crammed for chemistry examinations. I am revising my options for a long and happy life.” Impressive, considering that Dear Esther originally began life as a free Half Life mod created mainly by one man, Dan Pinchbeck, in 2009. That’s what Dear Esther wants you This remake improves on the original to find out. To do so you will spend in every aspect, but it was a gamble two hours travelling across desolate because Dan tackled an issue that cliffsides, underground caverns and most publishers wouldn’t touch with abandoned buildings. The game a barge pole: Unhappiness. It paid adopts a look but don’t touch atoff, after just six hours Dear Esther betitude. That means no opening doors, came profitable, proving that there is no levelling up and no killing bad guys. a market for alternative games. Think of it like a window into the soul of Overall, Dear Esther is a short two a deeply depressed man where you hours and its £6.99 price might seem get to experience his emotions more a little expensive considering how effectively than in any other game much value and time you can get ever made. There is so much going out of a game like Skyrim. But if you on in Dear Esther that I am not sure are willing to pay £7+ for a movie you are ever meant to find out what then you should certainly pay for is real. Is the protagonist really on the Dear Esther because, for what it is, island? Is Esther a real person? Are the it’s as close to perfection as a video chemical equations painted on the game can be.
Dustforce is a diamond in the rough. It’s a game that doesn’t pander to infants or get bogged down in story, it’s a game that is at times so difficult even the hardiest of gamers will want to smash their controller off the wall in frustration and then pick them back up again because they can’t resist another go. It’s that good. But to describe Dustforce is also a difficult affair. It’s a platformer in the vein of Mario and Sonic but rather than a plump plumber or speedy hedgehog you’ve got four colourful janitors who have seemingly dropped out of ninja school to start a cleaning business. Meaning, they run up and
down walls, double jump through the air and sweep up a mess before you can say “Jiminy Cricket.” It’s not a simple A to B game like Mario or Sonic; the focus is achieving a perfect score. That means sweeping up every last piece of dust, killing every last enemy and doing it all as quickly as possible. That’s like asking Mario to kill every last goomba and collect every coin. It’s no easy task, let me tell you that. Gameplay takes the centre stage so much that it’s easy to forget about the graphics, but when you take a second to smell the roses you realise just how fantastic they are. They are
understated yet cartoony and look great in HD. Any gripe you might have with bland textures are overshadowed by excellent character animation and stunning weather effects Towards the end things become almost too difficult. Once they do you are given access to an in-game leader board that lets you replay the record-breaking runs of other players and copy their style accordingly. And whilst I am slightly concerned that some of my worse attempts might have been uploaded somewhere in the game, the replay feature is unprecedented for an indie game and it just goes to show how much thought went into crafting a truly enjoyable game.. The cheap thrills of the music and multiplayer leave a lot to be desired but they don’t detract from the general experience. Overall, if you are looking for a 2d platformer that is going to push you to the edge of reason and back again then Dustforce is the one for you; it’s easily one of the games of 2012. Take note, SEGA. I know a certain blue hedgehog that could benefit from being a bit more like Dustforce.
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contribute ISSUE 8 - MAY-JUNE
THE DECADENCE ISSUE
Writers and artists wanting to further their careers and gain public exposure in issue 8 of novel must consider the theme of decadence. Whether the word connotes for you a moral and cultural decline, hedonistic self-indulgence, or a nineteenth century literary movement, we want to read and view your responses. Remember, novel is the only magazine in the region taking an arms-open approach to receiving the work of creative people and actively encouraging you to contribute your work, gain exposure and further your aspirations as writers and artists. Please get in touch and take us up on the offer. The more ‘novel’ and original the contributions are, the more likely they will be chosen for publication. Send all contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org DEADLINE: April 9th For written work, the word limit is 1000. If you have an interest in art, nightlife, music, film, fashion, design or anything creative or cultural and would like to write features for us, please send an example of your work to the above email address. If you’re an illustrator or photographer, please also send examples of your work.
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