Media Design: CHIPS!, Fluxus cc V TRE, Hodinkee, Metal
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct)’s weekly analysis of media design — both past and present, print and online — from South Africa and around the world:
- Local/print: CHIPS! embraces the feminine zeitgeist in the most-accessible way, focusing on the theme of “Matriarchy”
- Iconic: Fluxus Newspaper cc V TRE was a precursor to the indie zines of the late ’70s, inventing the DIY aesthetic and rebellious anti-establishment attitude that punk would eventually come to represent
- Online: Hodinkee grants access to considered criticism and reportage about high-quality watches and the lives of influential people who wear them
- International/print: Metal is quasi-avant-garde magazine with an internationalist, indie worldview
CHIPS! (South Africa), issue 6, 2018
Evolving from its original quarterly print format, CHIPS! has become a predominantly online publication. Issue 6 comes in conjunction with Women’s Month this August, returning in print form for the first time since #2. Themed “Matriarchy”, this issue explores pertinent ideas related to women that form the fabric of society today, such as contemporary notions of motherhood and matriarchy. What better way to symbolise such notions than to play with a bit of visual hyperbole, and place vintage Corningware casseroles and cookware dishes on the cover, with the iconic “Cornflower” pattern decoration to boot? A contentious choice of objects to use on a matriarchy-themed cover, to say the least.
Parody is the name of the game on this cover, and most people can relate to that passed-down pot that their mother got for her wedding, now old, all scratched and scuffed but still cooking beautifully. It’s ironic that Corningware was discovered by accident, made from pyroceram, a white glass-ceramic material that can withstand heavy thermal shock. According to Wikipedia, it was originally developed for the “ballistic missile program as a heat-resistant material for nose cones”. And, so, Corningware is arguably an apt metaphor for matriarchy. Incidentally, Corningware is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary.
Focusing on present-day interpretations of ‘age-old’ designations that have ‘traditionally’ been ‘given’ to women since the beginning of time, such as aunty, ouma, and gogo, CHIPS! #6 advocates variety, equality, respect, tradition, and difference. By showcasing ‘familiar’ stories, much like Corningware, about experiences we’ve all had with food alongside the important women in our lives — from a tale about a child brought-up in a in a Catholic kitchen with two mothers to a story about a 19th century writer, Barbare Jorjadze, who happened to write a cookbook that became a cultural staple while simultaneously publishing feminist manifestos that defied the patriarchal power structures of the time — this issue embraces the feminine zeitgeist in the most-accessible way.
METAL (Spain), issue 39, 2018
Barcelona-based METAL magazine has been around since 2006. For an A-list publication, it’s somehow maintained its independent publishing spirit, oozing edginess and staying fresh. Published biannually and keeping in line with its quasi-avant-garde, internationalist, indie worldview, the magazine is a combination of fashion, photography, and art, showcasing the latest talent globally.
Staying true to its provocative name, METAL issue #39 is themed “Power to the People”, and features two cult-inspired covers. The first is an image taken by photographer and Instagram celebrity, John Yuyi, a self-portrait in Calvin Klein. The second is a portrait of trans model, Casil McArthur, dressed in Kenzo and photographed by Clément Pascal. Although the print version of the magazine is rad, Metal’s website has its own voice delivering exclusive content, all the while maintaining synergy with its printed sibling.
Hodinkee (US), volume 2, 2018
Over a period of seven years, Hodinkee magazine has grown into an authority in the field of contemporary and classic wristwatch connoisseurship. Founder, Benjamin Clymer, is known for his awareness of historical and modern haute horlogerie (the ‘high art’ of watchmaking) and. more importantly. his ability to explain this topic in an engaging and accessible way. The second edition of Hodinkee takes the baton from the magazine’s first exploration into print, with a layered study of watches and all that this world encompasses, including the influential people who appreciate haute horlogerie.
Arguably one of the most-intriguing creative people on the planet, Jony Ive, the chief design officer at Apple, features on the cover. The preeminent industrial designer of his generation, Ive is interviewed by Clymer himself in this issue, where he exposes his fetish for watches and how his fascination with orthodox Swiss watchmaking practices inadvertently influenced the creation of the best-selling watch on the planet, the Apple Watch. Sharing his perspective on the future for the technology of watchmaking, Ive is joined by other important contributors, including filmmaker Spike Lee and creative director Scott Dadich (CEO at Godfrey Dadich Partners, executive producer of the Abstract documentary series on Netflix, and ex-editor-in-chief of Wired magazine), among others.
Hodinkee online grants access to the content featured in the magazine, with considered criticism and reportage about quality watches and the people who wear them. The website is straightforward and, much like its raison d’être, executed in orthodox fashion, following timeless design practices. Overall, a pleasant and very informative experience.
The Fluxus newspaper, cc V TRE (US, circa 1964) a V TRE Extra (US, circa 1979)
A successor to George Brecht’s original prototype, “V Tre”, cc V TRE was the first issue of the Fluxus newspaper, edited by Brecht and George Maciunas (the founder of the movement). It was common for this four-page broadsheet to change its title, the most-used being “Fluxus cc V TRE” and “Fluxus Vacuum TrapEzoid”, with the final issue titled “a V TRE Extra”. Published in New York from 1964 to 1979, the editors described the Fluxus newspaper as “the official organ of Fluxus”. Following neo-Dada traditions and anti-art beliefs, six issues were distributed between 1964 and 1966, but production slackened heavily thereafter.
Maciunas was colorblind, and most Fluxus publications were printed in grayscale as a result. Issue #1 of the Fluxus newspaper was published in January of ’64, and the cover included a list of Fluxus yearbooks with prices, alongside a feature about the Fluxus editorial council, and an announcement about the first Fluxfestival. Each issue experimented with a vast array of typographic choices but slab serifs and gothic typefaces seems to have been the preferred choices, using a typographic language similar to Dada publications during the inter-world-war period. Content inside issue #1 included an editorial note by Brecht, and a writeup about an experimental composition, Poéme Symphonique, by the infamous composer, Gyorgy Ligeti. The newspaper served as a platform to advertise the prolific Fluxus happenings, which hail back to the original Dada happenings and the Cabaret Voltaire.
The spirit of Dadaism arguably lived on through Fluxus, and the spirit of Fluxus still lives on to this day, in happenings and performances, and in art and design; the movement has continued since Maciunas’ death in 1978. The final issue of the Fluxus newspaper, issue #11, was published in 1979 by Geoffrey Hendricks shortly after Maciunas’ death. In many ways, the Fluxus newspaper was a precursor to the punk zines to come during the late ’70s. It was affordable and accessible, exhibiting the DIY aesthetic (or rather anti-aesthetic) and rebellious anti-establishment attitude that punk would come to represent. As such, cc V TRE and a V TRE Extra, and all the publications in between, exhibit qualities that contemporary society could learn from to evolve beyond the shallow commercial, consumerist, materialist, borderline-narcissistic limbo we call our reality today.
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.
Media Design, formerly Cover Stories and MagLove, is a regular slot deconstructing media cover design, both past and present.
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