Media Design: Circus Journal, Friends/Frendz, HKIPF, Ordinary
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct)’s weekly analysis of media design from South Africa and around the world:
- Commercial print: Circus Journal announces the rich culture of the southwest English city of Bath
- Iconic: Friends (later Frendz) was a subversive tributary the UK Underground Press, which formed part of the British avant-garde music scene during the ’60s and ’70s
- Online: Hong Kong International Photo Festival brings an engaging real-world experience of the art of photography online
- Independent print: Ordinary uses tried and tested conceptual art practices to deliver extraordinary stories about extremely ordinary, yet omnipresent, objects
Circus Journal (UK), November 2018
A creativity-centred journal, Circus is a quarterly offering a fresh perspective on the city of Bath. Titled “The Bath issue”, the third edition has just been released and contains a mixture of lifestyle, culture and community, specifically in relation to the people of Bath and what fuels their collective fire.
It is the largest issue to date, with a cover illustration by South African illustrator, Fran Labuschagne, and features some of the most-talented creatives in England’s southwest. While supporting emergent creative talent — encompassing anything from insightful photography to great design — Circus also promotes local restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and the like, a veritable nucleus of information about like-minded Bathonians.
Circus is free to anybody in the city and, for those who want to access it from around the world, its website is filled with engaging and interactive content, a testament that, given tasteful content and considered design, a Squarespace site can easily make the cut.
Ordinary (Netherlands), issue #7, November 2018
Once again, the importance of Marcel Duchamp’s art practices comes to mind here, particularly his seminal conceptual piece, “Fountain”. Reminiscent of the cultural leap that Duchamp took with a urinal in 1917, Ordinary magazine takes a similar stance with its themes for every issue. For its seventh issue, this quarterly focuses on the not-so-humble straw. A subtle parody of Rene Magritte’s 1929 painting, “La Trahison des Images” (The Treachery of Images), which states “ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe) under an image of a pipe, a straw performs as a small pipe on this cover. A silent protest, this is an actual straw, and the fact is straws are mostly made from plastic, and plastic accounts for a lot of waste today, contributing hugely to the pollution of our oceans and severely affecting the creatures that live in them.
The formal, philosophical, aesthetic, ethical and conceptual engagement that every ordinary object gets from Ordinary magazine is far from ordinary. The confluence of art and design in relation to social and cultural matters is no coincidence, as the magazine was founded by artist, Max Siedentopf, and designer, Yuki Kappes. Each issue features an international selection of artists who are given an ordinary object with which to make art, which then acts as content for the magazine. A happy marriage of surface and substance indeed — and synergy across different media, with a neat website to boot.
Hong Kong International Photo Festival (Hong Kong), November 2018
Arranged by the Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association, and founded in 2010, The Hong Kong International Photo Festival (HKIPF) has a different theme with every edition; the current theme is “The Language to Come”. Showcasing relevant photographers and trends in photography, HKIPF comprises various exhibitions, lectures, seminars, workshops, fairs, and screenings. For 2018, it introduced an open call for satellite exhibitions, with a selection of artists from various backgrounds. Each artist curated their own exhibition based on the festival theme, with photography at the root of it all.
The website for HKIPF is particularly impressive, with textbook execution and incredibly tasteful design elements. Notably, it’s the quasi-modernist aesthetic, inspired by Swiss and Dutch design traditions, accented by a well-considered colour swatch and choice of typographic elements. The layout is dynamic, displaying both text and imagery in a stimulating way. Neat interactive elements, such as a virtual magnifying glass, used sparingly add a little spice to the site. Importantly, the information hierarchy is understandable and navigational elements are accessible and intuitive. Both aesthetically and functionally, a great experience.
Friends (later Frendz) (UK) 1969—1972
First published in London during the late ’60s, initially known as “Friends of Rolling Stone”, Friends magazine (which would later be called “Frendz”) was a subversive tributary of Rolling Stone UK. With strong links to the UK underground press, which included other rebellious magazines such as Oz (featured in this column earlier this year) and Time Out UK, Friends had many influential contributors who formed part of the British avant-garde crowd in the ’60s and ’70s, including William Burroughs for issue #9, Robert Crumb for issue #12, and JG Ballard in issue #17. Themes were also interesting, including a Media Monster issue for #27, and a Women’s Underground Press issue for May 1971.
The magazine was noted for the quality of journalism and other literary content it produced, which tended to focus on the experimental, underground music scene in London at the time. Twenty-eight issues were printed of Friends before the magazine took a more-political route, changed its name to “Frendz” and ran for another 35 issues before its demise in August 1972.
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. Connect with him 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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