Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct)’s weekly analysis of media design from South Africa and around the world:
- Online: Assemble Papers takes an ethicurean approach to urbanisation, the built environment, industry and globalisation 4.0, and does so with tact and taste
- Iconic: El Corno Emplumado was an obscure surrealist review, published from the multinational perspective of Latin America
- Independent print: Hacking Finance focuses on outsider perspectives and ulterior spaces in and around the fintech industry
- Commercial print: TIME promotes an attitude of optimism through art as antidote for a world plagued by division and bigotry
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TIME (US), February 2019
Only a few weeks after Studio Muti’s contribution, South African talent features once more on the cover of TIME magazine. Showcasing the work of SA artist, Nelson Makamo, the cover image is a portrait of a young girl, his cousin, whom he currently supports through school. There is a visible hunger to build, learn and progress that is implied by the childlike rendering of the glasses over her eyes. The naivety innate to Makamo’s representation relates to a perspective that embraces the possibilities of the future, education, and having the ability to see, to be enlightened and aware, to improve and support a consciousness that opens a space for optimism to exist. This perspective is further implied by the Makomo’s title: “Vision of a limitless future”.
The issue dissects idea of optimism, and the representation thereof in the world, and doesn’t fall into the trap of blind optimism that is normally a reinforced sense of fear disguised as hope. Optimism here, which is far more-layered and -dynamic, cements the fact that culture makes us human, and as conscious and enlightened individuals we can make positive contributions that can make the world a better place, and not simply destroy, expect, take, and consume all the time. Guest edited by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who is a patron of Makomo’s work, this cover introduces TIME’s Optimism issue. This is a time plagued by corruption, prejudice, division, bigotry and bias, where the production of culture being is required, more than ever. to help combat these destructive forces, and DuVernay’s introductory text incapsulates this sentiment, which is the overall sentiment of this issue: “Why art is the antidote for our times.”
Hacking Finance (US), issue #1, December 2018/January 2019
A project of Anthemis, Hacking Finance was founded by a band of fintech investors, bankers, academics and the like who have alternative ways of seeing the global financial services industry. Following experimental paths that could adapt more effectively to the new challenges of the information age, Hacking Finance is a fintech publication for outsiders of all kinds, whether inside the sector or not. This first issue is themed “Movement”, implying the development of a new consciousness, and includes some pretty odd angels, such as skateboarding and capitalism, and intergalactic commerce.
Focusing on ulterior spaces in and around the industry, Hacking Finance has an experimental approach, to say the least, embracing traditionally ‘low-brow’ tendencies that invites critical thinking through various hacks, mashups, remixes, and glitches. As a result, Hacking Finance is a magazine that is as aesthetically eccentric as it is ethically — culture production in motion. The magazine is a quality piece of publication craft but the website is arguably more successful than the printed version when it comes to experimentation. With editorial design and layout by Out of Office, the cover features a work by Spanish illustrator, Cynthia Alfonso, that is borderline xeno-modernist in its visual language and approach, with its mashup of surrealist, Memphis, gothic, and low-brow influences.
Assemble Papers (Australia), February 2019
Sporting the strapline, “The culture of living closer together”, Assemble Papers immediately announces that it is in the business of culture production. The magazine’s site is a beautiful example of web craft, and successfully takes the baton from its printed iteration online, maintaining synergy across platforms, structurally, ethically, and aesthetically. Published by Assemble, a Melbourne-based architecture and property development firm, Assemble Papers focuses on ‘small footprint living’. Embracing optimism through the full cultural gamut of art, design, craft and discourse, it brings to the fore socioeconomic and environmental issues related to ethical food consumption and production, minimising waste production, recycling already produced waste, and the like related to the considered use of our planet’s resources.
The print publication is a biannual, and available as a free handout in Australia. The magazine’s online iteration is updated weekly, with new content related to ethicurean approaches to urbanisation, the built environment, industry and gloablsation 4.0.
El Corno Emplumado (The Plumed Horn) (Mexico), 1962–1969
Based in Mexico City, El Corno Emplumado (“The Plumed Horn”), also known as “El Corno”, was an independent, avant-garde quarterly edited by Margaret Randall and Sergio Mondragón, both active writers, activists, and academics. From 1962 until 1969, El Corno was produced as a bilingual journal focused on Latin and North American counterculture, often exhibiting the influence of surrealism and The Beat Movement in support of social justice and consciousness.
The journal’s title was derived by merging the idea of the jazz horn from North America with the ancient story of Mesoamerica’s Quetzalcoatl (a fierce, feathered serpent-like figure from Latin- and South-American mythology), suggesting a splice between two cultures. As many of the its covers portray, El Corno was experimental and eclectic, publishing content from varying contributors from communist guerrillas to Catholic priests. Although there were Catholic undertones, El Corno was non-denominational and all-inclusive, often embracing the work of amateur poets and underground exponents.
All in all, 31 issues were published, with some interesting contributions, including a cover for issue #18 featuring a fragment of Picasso’s Guernica, with the words “Stop the war in Vietnam Now!”, and an obscure surrealist collage by Robert David Cohen on the cover of issue #27. The journal’s usual distribution amounted to 3 000 copies worldwide, vehemently independent, archetypally underground, tenets of a culturally relevant publication in the making. El Corno saw its demise after it backed Mexico’s controversial Student Movement in 1968, forcing its closure by 1969.
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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