Media Design: Womankind, Evergreen Review, Emergence, Prufrock, NYTM
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct)’s weekly analysis of media design — both past and present, print and online — from South Africa and around the world:
- Online: Emergence advocates reform and renewal in relation to environmental issues, compelling us to stop violating the planet
- Iconic: Evergreen Review surged to the forefront of American counterculture during the ’60s, introducing the world to some of the most-prolific creative minds and cultural innovators of the 20th century
- Local/print: Prufrock appropriates ‘found’ photographs to tell compelling stories about past narratives and current issues, teetering on the edge of ‘pulp’ or ‘cult’ sensibility
- International/print: The New York Times Magazine and The New York Times Book Review expose that we could’ve have stopped climate change and the current environmental crisis 30-years ago, but we chose profit over nature
- Multiplatform: Womankind ushers in a new age for women, emphasising the notion of change in the context of the feminine zeitgeist and focusing on fantasy books and films
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Prufrock (South Africa), issue 14
Issue #14 of Prufrock, themed “Flowers”, features prose by Liam Kruger (Hieronymus Rondebosch), Richard Rive (Rain), Girinandini Singh (Starstuff), and Zandile Khumalo (uNtsika eZweni leseThembiso), to name a few. The publication is illustrated by emerging South African artist and illustrator, Caitlin Mkhasibe, and the cover image is an appropriated ‘found’ image by SA-British writer, poet, editor and publisher, Nick Mulgrew.
The appropriation of historic footage can be an incredibly powerful communication tool, specifying a clear message, tone of voice, and considered creative direction. Photographs taken out of their original context can tell compelling stories by themselves, and compliment or influence understandings of past narratives and current issues, as exhibited in Mulgrew’s visual language in this issue of Prufrock, which teeters on the edge of ‘pulp’ or ‘cult’ sensibility. The ‘readymade’ picture was constructed using photographs shot by an unknown SA botanist in 1968, and more of these photographs appear sporadically throughout the publication. Importantly, adhering to the theme of the issue, these images feature flora unique to SA, much like the writers and other contributors featured inside.
The New York Times Magazine and The New York Times Book Review (US), 5 August 2018
Veering slightly from its normal publishing format, The New York Times Magazine delivers a simple, silent statement — one gloomy but powerful message — to accompany one story by author and novelist, Nathaniel Rich. A tragedy in two acts, this story is an account that we had the data which forecasted the dire circumstances that we currently must deal with in relation to the environment. We had time to act; nothing stopped us, except ourselves. This was the decade we lost all common sense, and chose profit over nature. Moreover, profit is in our nature; human beings are innately self-destructive.
Two kinds of imagery are used to compliment the two acts of this story, either archival footage, or commissioned images from American photographer, George Steinmetz. Both kinds document the effects of climate change globally. The cover needs no imagery to describe the effects of climate change as a result, implying rather than revealing. Besides, we are already numb to literal ‘shock factor’ or ‘guilt trip’ approaches to this critical situation: 30 years ago, we could’ve saved the planet but we didn’t. Beautifully presented, associated content is available on the The New York Times Magazine website here.
A special mention must be given to The New York Times Book Review, which covers a few environmental issues alongside a pressing socio-economic epidemic, showcasing books on water contamination (“What The Eyes Don’t See” by Mona Hanna-Attisha), fracking (“The Poisoned City” by Anna Clark) and opioids (“Amity and Prosperity” by Eliza Griswold and “Dopesick” by Beth Macy). The cover, illustrated by Golden Cosmos, titled “Tableau of Hell We Allowed”, is a striking reminder of these issues, and the massive impact that they have on the environment and the lived lives of human beings across the globe.
Womankind (Australia), issue 17, July 2018
Womankind is a quarterly magazine about ways to live a more-fulfilling life, focusing on issues of identity and meaning in contemporary society. As its name suggests, Womankind is marshalling a new age for women, following the oft-quoted belief that “change is the only constant in life” (quoted from Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher). True to the nature of independent publishing, Womankind has no advertising, and is filled with work from various authors and artists who comment on the often-challenging relationship between culture and nature within the feminine zeitgeist.
The magazine’s strapline, “why you are destined to change”, implies that it nurtures ideas that challenge the status quo, and defy as opposed to obey. Themed “unicorn”, issue 17 encompasses the realms of fantasy fiction and films. Arguably, fantasy exists as a measure to escape or consume a vacuum in our lives, to relive lost feelings of enchantment and wonderment that once gave our lives meaning. To quote Carl Jung, “the lack of meaning in life is a soul-sickness”, and perhaps this is what fantasy ultimately teaches us about contemporary society. The cover showcases an illustration by Greek illustrator, Stavros Damos, depicting Queen Elizabeth I of England holding-up a unicorn — maybe some sort of gesture to symbolise the dualism between the rational and the irrational, fantasy and reality, all within the context of womenkind, presenting the future is female.
Emergence (UK), August 2018
An initiative of Kalliopeia Foundation, Emergence is an online quarterly publication with an annual print edition that advocates reform and renewal, particularly with regards to the environment, compelling us to stop violating the planet. As the planet is conquered, and human beings increasingly separate themselves from the environment, the question needs to be asked: instead of being indifferent towards the planet and its present fate, what if we were humbled by it and did something about it?
As its strapline implies, Emergence embraces the pivotal, often-overlooked, connections between ecology, culture, and spirituality, exploring human nature and our fear of the ‘unknown’ (in this case, the wild, nature, etc), and our related need to control the planet, submitting that we must become more sympathetic towards ‘the wild’ within the ourselves and our environment. Themed “Wildness”, issue #2 investigates why the wild perplexes us, implying that we should cherish and respect it — more so, revere it, and be in awe of it. The design of the site ticks many boxes: typography, art direction, layout, functionality, interactivity, usability et al, neatly introduced with cover art by Studio Airport.
Evergreen Review (UK), 1957–1973, relaunched in print in 2017
Evergreen Review was an American literary journal originally published from 1957 to 1973, and has been legitimately relaunched in print again since 2017. Despite its deceptively conservative name, Evergreen Review was far from conventional, essential in exposing and promoting the work of literary icons such as Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Charles Bukowski, Vladimir Nabokov, and Susan Sontag, to name a few. The prolific beat writers, William S Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac, also found a stage for their work at Evergreen Review, with Kerouac and Ginsberg contributing to the magazine throughout its existence.
One key feature of Evergreen Review was that it had illustrated work in every issue and sometimes included erotic cartoons, notably The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist. The brainchild of writer Michael O’Donoghue and artist Frank Springer, this serial comic encapsulated a zeitgeist during the ’60s and the various liberation movements that it generated, including sexual liberation and politics.
The first issue featured an essay by the important 20th century philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, and two stories by the notorious Irish avant-garde novelist, Samuel Beckett (Dante and the Lobster, and Echo’s Bones). The cover is an image by American photographer, Harold Feinstein, who has been described by The New York Times as “[o]ne of the most accomplished recorders of the American experience”. Thanks to its radical contributors, and the sheer number of important creatives and cultural innovators that the magazine showcased, Evergreen Review surged to the forefront of American counterculture.
From the original Evergreen Review, the final print issue, #96, was published in 1973. An online-based revival of Evergreen Review came in 1998, edited by the magazine’s original founder, Barney Rosset, and his wife, Astrid Myers, lasting until 2013. The magazine has recently been revived again in 2017, with both online and print iterations. The most recent issue, Winter 2017, features a work by New York-based Aziz + Cucher, showcasing a story inside titled Manifesto by American writer, Yasmin Nair.
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.
— One subscription form, three newsletters: sign up now for the MarkLives newsletter, including Ramify headlines; The Interlocker, our new monthly comms-focused mailer; and Brands & Branding, launching soon!