The ARCHIZINES World Tour is continuing its traversal of the globe, with added dates for Autumn. This collection of independent architecture zines, journals and magazines from around the world, curated by Elias Redstone, and featuring a publication from our very own City As Material, will be on show in various countries over the following weeks. Check the schedule for venues and dates.
The other week we fled London for serene, sunny Dorchester, joining Tim Wright and Joe Flintham, as well as a handful of intrepid walkers eager to try out The Haunter box they have developed.
Enamoured with the surroundings and bewitched by the box, we followed the routes Tim had set for the day. Walking, talking, and reciting Hardy’s poems from the handy booklet Giles had created, we were struck by how much the box can change the way you engage with the landscape, and the pace and manner in which you travel through it. There’s a grand charm to bearing its burden – carrying the physical weight, as if a stone ferried from the base of a hill to a cairn, and the weight of its words, surrendering to how Hardy saw the world in his mournful state.
The box is just a prototype at the moment, but Tim and Joe are planning to add several more features and capabilities. I can’t wait to clasp it tight once more and be led through the land. In the meantime, we’re thinking of what we will create from the experience and the subsequent discussions, to form part of our City As Material series.
Tim has written an account, and uploaded a host of videos and sounds recorded from the day on his site, which should enlighten and entertain in equal measure. Here’s a teaser…
For our next City As Material venture, we will be working with Tim Wright on his new digital public art project The Haunter, inspired by Thomas Hardy’s ‘Poems of 1912/13′, enacted 100 years after Hardy wrote his famous sequence of verses mourning the death of his first wife, Emma.
Participants will embark on walks along a specific route with a crafted wooden box, embedded with smart technology, ‘haunted’ by the legacy of Hardy’s poems. Able to speak, play recordings of poems, conversations and music, capture sounds and react dynamically using geolocation, the box will enhance and document their experiences.
On Tuesday 19th June we’ll be joining Tim and box developer Joe Flintham (amongst others) in Dorchester to try it out in the field – a day of ‘recording, beta testing, walking and talking’ – forming a book (or series of books) on what happened, ideas discussed, and creative responses to the walk.
For a detailed description of the day, check here – it would be great if you could join us.
We’ve just published our latest entry in the City As Material series: ‘Professor Starling’s Thetford-London-Oxford Expedition’ – three books documenting the investigative excursions of Professor William Starling and his research team (Lisa Hirmer and Andrew Hunter of DodoLab, Josephine Mills of the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge artist Leila Armstrong, and Giles Lane and Hazem Tagiuri of Proboscis) during his trip to the United Kingdom in Feburary, where he sought to examine the rapid disappearance of the European Starling in contrast to the continued expansion of its North American cousin.
The first volume, Perquisitions, contains descriptions of the various participants’ thoughts on the expedition and its rationale. Congeries showcases selected items and ideas collected during their travels, and the final volume, Speculations, offers reflections and fantastical musings on the material gathered and testimonies heard.
Purchase a limited edition copy complete with specially printed ribbon here.
Allow me to highlight an intriguing new book by the recently established Influx Press, who specialise in site-specific fiction. ‘Acquired for development by… A Hackney Anthology’ is a collection of short stories and poetry inspired by the London borough of Hackney, penned by twenty-five established and upcoming writers.
It caught my interest as Giles and I have written a ‘speculative fiction’ piece for City As Material 2 (part of our collection of investigations, observations and musings on the cities we visited with Professor Starling, Dodolab and co, almost ready to go to print) which is rooted in distinct locations and events and informed by real-world experiences.
Despite all that flows in and out of these places over time – and indeed Hackney – they seem to maintain a certain character which influences those that live in them or pass through, seeping into creative works regardless of the author’s intent. I’m looking forward to picking up a copy, and will be keeping a keen eye out for the next offering from Influx Press.
Read a nice little interview they did with BookMachine here.
“Magazine Library is a travelling series of events and exhibitions that celebrates print culture in all its forms, and it returns this spring for a 10th edition! For Magazine Library 10 – held for the first time at Hillside Terrace in Daikanyama – the basic premise of introducing innovative and hard-to-find international titles to Japanese audiences will continue, but this time accompanied by a series of workshops, installations, markets, and various live events.”
Let me draw your attention to a brilliantly written, striking piece which was featured in the Guardian a few weeks back. ‘Walking is political‘, by Will Self, is an edited version of his inaugural lecture as professor of contemporary thought at Brunel University, lamenting our increasing detachment from innate cognitive abilities when traversing the urban environment, and championing foot travel as a democratising force amongst spaces ever more dominated by corporate control.
Cue lengthy pause for breath.
Aside from being a fascinating read, it chimes with our aims for the City As Material series – to temporarily put aside our daily travel routines and concerns, the well trodden routes and second nature responses to familiar buildings and spaces, so that we may discover hidden facets of the city and in turn create work inspired by them. Instead of being blindly directed by technology, we use it to document our shared experiences, and evoke new forms of engagement with the places we live in and roam.
Speaking of which, we’re just in the process of finishing the books from City As Material 2. Stay tuned!
As I mentioned a while back, ARCHIZINES – an archive of independent architecture zines, journals and magazines from around the world, curated by Elias Redstone – recently embarked on a world touring exhibition. Last week we were invited to submit a publication from City As Material, to be shown at the New York and Berlin venues participating, alongside other spots yet to be confirmed. We chose City As Material: An Overview, an account of the first series, so as to share our documentation of the experience, and to give a sense of what to expect from future events.
I haven’t featured any Zine related stuff on the bookleteer blog for a while now, so whilst we’re busy producing the eBooks for City As Material 2, I thought I’d share a blog I’ve just discovered.
Zineage Kicks is a behind the scenes look at a number of the early Zines of guest contributors, chronicling their conception and what it took to get them made via interviews and testimonies. It’s a side of small scale publishing that rarely gets heard, unlike the wealth of talk that surrounds the inspirations and working practices of mainstream writers, artists and designers, and might surprise people who perceive Zines to be generally low-consideration, offhand artefacts. The blog seems to have been started a few months ago, but already I can see it becoming a regularly visited bookmark, especially due to the parallels with our latest series of eBooks, Material Conditions.
Oh, and I left the most obvious comment to last… great name, eh?
Although reactions to the Professor during the first half hour of the day were restrained, with students and scholars rushing around us on the pavements or zipping by on bikes with only cursory glances, the route to the high street soon swelled with tourists clutching raised cameras and smart phones, the source of their amusement filtered through tiny digital screens. The more permanent residents of the city seemed to think a theatrical troupe had come to town, or that some odd collegial stunt was at hand. A group of contractors cleaning stonework engaged in light banter, despite clearly being busy, their voices strained over the hum of mechanical equipment.
We entered the Oxford botanical gardens to the patter of drizzling rain, and were greeted by several inquisitive ducks who had wandered from the water, obviously charmed by one of their avian brethren. Minutes later, the Professor was spotted by a gang of children on a school trip and was soon answering frantic questions, handing out cards to tiny delighted interviewees. After chatting to gardeners toiling on muddy patches and being targeted by a potential bird spotter with a huge camera lens, he departed, ambling down quiet side-streets and eventually into the Museum of Natural History.
There were some great scenes here as the Professor was accosted by visitors, prodding at his suit whilst he shared his knowledge of the Dodo and other feathered creatures. We witnessed a high school student gawping at all the taxidermy specimens, loudly asking if they were real, whilst others pressed their noses to the glass cases and shrieked at the preserved contents. It’s likely many people there believed he was associated with the Museum, who despite our initial concerns, were happy to let him wander around.
Giles and I looked around the Museum of the History of Science, containing beautiful early microscopes made from gleaming brass, and intricate astrolabes with mysterious shifting layers. I found a case dedicated to the origins of the Ashmolean Museum with a sketch of its founding collection, crammed from floor to ceiling – very different from the carefully curated space of today. One statement in particular interested me: “Not everyone liked the early Asmolean Museum. Some visitors were shocked that access was not restricted to scholars and gentleman”. Prior to our outing we had talked about the migration of knowledge, namely what routes and structures it travels through in a city of prestigious institutions, and who in society has access to it, especially in earlier times. The Ashmolean’s open door policy from the outset felt like an open challenge to a belief that certain information was the preserve of the academic elite and the upper classes.
Professor Starling’s next destination was the river, where we saw the college rowing teams in the midst of practice, whole boat-fulls staring in unison towards the bank and momentarily easing their grip on the oars. A river steward told him that she thought Starlings were likely to gather in nearby areas, but he had arranged to meet everyone else back in the market where we had started the day. Dodging a hectic stream of bicycles along the narrow path, we walked back into town and browsed the stalls.
Here, the Professor met a character with facial tattoos and a piratical grin whose name was allegedly ‘Raven Hawk’, and discussed Starling sightings with a knowledgeable trader. It’s great that the market, our final area for the day, yielded quite a few people who were eager to engage. On top of this, Josie and Leila said they had been shown around the amazing Pitt Rivers Museum earlier by an associate, telling of numerous priceless artifacts half-hidden in the niches.
Whiling away the time until shops started to shut and evening crept in, we took refuge in the Turf Tavern for food, beer, and to share the highlights of our Thetford–London–Oxford expedition.