Cover Stories: Interview, Readymag Stories, The Lake, TIME & Zeit
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct)’s weekly analysis of media design — both past and present, print and online — from South Africa and around the world:
- Iconic: Interview used a simple concept, celebs talking to celebs, to generate content for 50 years
- Online: Readymag Stories argues how design education was invented by two schools: Bauhaus and Vkhutemas
- Local/print: The Lake incites a state of post-postmodern hubris, as opposed to the sublime, in a colorful performance of fashion, photography and art
- International/print: TIME gives an education in digital marketing, making a print magazine cover go viral
- International/print: Zeit Magazin unpacks in abstract terms how ideologies come-into-being
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The Lake (South Africa), issue 20, June 2018
The historic ebb and flow of the creative pursuit is far from binary, nor dictated by dualities and hierarchies. It may be argued that the underground needs the mainstream so that there’s at best something to rebel against. In turn, the mainstream feeds off the underground for new ideas and fresh angles. While nothing is original and the best we may do is recycle, remix, mashup, deconstruct, parody and so on, there’re still some interesting hybrids out there yet to be spliced together. The cover for issue #20 of The Lake delivers one such chimera, inciting a state of post-postmodern hubris in a colorful performance of fashion, photography and art. Juxtaposition, pastiche and appropriation work in overdrive with this cover, titled “Sad Rasta”, delivered with the photographic prowess of Travys Owen. It speaks to a broader series of images, a fashion shoot within the spread, titled “Avoirdupois — A System of Weights”.
TIME (US), 11 June 2018
Ideas are rarely easy to formulate, execute and implement, so it is always exciting when a candid idea becomes a reality. Despite all the dystopian and Orwellian visions about our surveilled and mediated world, drones are in our future. For its June 2018 issue, TIME magazine has gotten rid of the solid red border that normally frames its covers, opting for a cover image shot by a drone. Here the ever-present solid red border is made of real drones, 958 of them to be exact, choreographed to be in perfect mathematical organisation with each other. Exact calculations had to be made to get this drone army in position. TIME worked with Intel’s Drone Light Show team and Astraeus Aerial to create this spectacular display of lights in the night sky above Folsom, California. As one of the largest drone demonstrations ever performed in the US, TIME couldn’t have wished for better publicity, with the spectacle going viral on the internet over the past week. And, so, a print magazine cover becomes online content.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Zeit Magazin (Germany), no. 22, 24 May 2018
In his book, Spectres of Marx, the father of deconstruction, Jaques Derrida, alluded that ideology is ghostly, lurking now and later haunting. Ideology is inescapable, extremely abstract, constructed, and seemingly not connected to reality. Yet it affects us in very real, ontological, ways. In a roundabout way, the cover to the latest issue of Zeit Magazine depicts Derrida’s explanation of ideology and its inherent ‘spectrality’ as a ‘hauntology’.
Zeit has printed three different covers to communicate this ambiguous message, using a visual narrative reminiscent of constructivism, specifically the formalism of El Lissitsky and Kasimir Malevich, and the modernism of the Bauhaus, recalling the work of De Stijl artist, Peter Keler. In short, this tryptic of covers unpacks in abstract terms how ideologies come-into-being. In order, each cover states (translated from German): 1) choose the two lines with the same length, 2) of course X and C!, and 3) did you believe this? It’s how ideologies work. Allowing the audience to figure out the puzzle, the question here is: why do people believe so vehemently in ideologies? From an awareness of how metanarratives work to relations of power structures and institutions, we need to defy more and obey less.
Readymag Stories (US), June 2018
The latest Readymag Stories declares that design education was invented by the Bauhaus (Germany) and Vkhutemas, (an acronym for the Moscow-based Higher Art and Technical Studios Soviet Union). Most people would be familiar with Bauhaus or, at best, have been exposed to work from the Bauhaus in their lifetime. Vkhutemas, in comparison, has gone largely unrecognised but has regularly been compared to Bauhaus. Both schools were similar in organisation and scope, often exchanging knowledge and expertise. Both schools were also at their most prolific during the inter-world war years.
Bauhaus, initially founded in 1919 (Weimar, and later Dessau), drew from all the early modernist avant-garde movements in Europe, blending the rudiments of art, craft, discourse and design into a historically significant curriculum. Vkhutemas, founded in 1920 (Moscow), was a Soviet state art and technical school created by order of Vladimir Lenin himself, meant to cultivate generations of artists, artisans, designers and craftsmen to the highest industry standards. As opposed to Bauhaus, which was influenced by Dadaism, futurism, cubism, De Stijl, and other important avant-garde movements, Vkhutemas influenced key avant-garde movements such as constructivism and suprematism. Overall, abstraction and experimentalism would prove to be common traits of both schools, understood to be transformative factors in the modern perception of reality, signifying progress, the future, industrial and technological influence. Vkhutemas closed in 1930 due political pressure, internal conflicts and the onset of World War II. Bauhaus closed in 1933 due to similar circumstances.
Readymag encapsulates this history beautifully with the most-recent publication for its “Stories” series, subtitled “The History of Two Great Schools”. Using abstract forms and emphasising space, with a characteristically modernist colour palette, and precise geometry in typographic execution, the site makes for an extremely informative and pleasing experience.
Andy Warhol’s Interview (US), 1969–2018
Founded in 1969 by notorious pop artist, Andy Warhol, Interview was a lavish magazine that milked the gospel of celebrity worship and the cult of personality. The publication contained close tête-à-têtes between celebrities and creatives, gossiping about cinema, music, art, fashion and politics. Dubbed “The Crystal Ball of Pop” and following Warhol’s unique perspectives, including his mantra “From A to B and Back Again”, conversations were informal and eccentric, and largely went unedited. It was a simple model that generated great content, which lasted for 50 years.
In May, 2018, for print and online, Interview closed its doors. This sudden closure is rumored to be due to internal issues, including a rental disagreement, hemorrhaging of upper-level staff, and various litigations from former personnel. A striking portrait of Joaquin Phoenix adorns Interview’s final cover; fellow actor and comedian, Will Ferrell, has a conversation with this actor.
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) is a designer, writer, and educator currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, working in the fields of communication design and digital media. He works from Gilgamesh, a small design studio, and is a senior lecturer in graphic design at Vega School in Cape Town. Connect on Pinterest and Instagram.
Cover Stories, formerly MagLove, is a regular slot deconstructing media cover design, both past and present.
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