Alternative publishing / zines

Concept – Various

Alternative publishing in architecture has had a long and varied history, with two periods of prolific output, both of which have been documented in recent exhibitions: A Few Zines: Dispatches from the Edge of Architectural Production (2009) explores architectural zines of the nineties and their mixing of writings on the city with music, art and pop culture in general; Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines (2010) focused on this phenomenon in the sixties and the seventies. These zines were an alternative to the academic journals or trade magazines of the profession, whilst some provided space for the amateur and the non-professional, others were produced by specialists as an outlet for highly specific topics and interests. Recently, blogs and other forms of output on the internet have become a more popular means of for disseminating such information, although the self-publishing, yet they have not necessarily been replaced zines. As most fans of such publications are quick to point out, there is an 'object-ness' to these cheaply printed, stapled, DIY magazines that a blog cannot quite replace.

The motivations for alternative publishing are as diverse as the output itself, often they were terribly self-serving such as those produced by Archigram, whilst others were highly political and part of a wider practice, for example ARse (1969-1972) was by Tom Woolley and Peter Wild with their students at the Architectural Association. The acronym of the title changed meaning many times from "Architects for a Really Socialist Environment," or "Architectural Radicals, Students & Educators", the AR alluding to the mainstream journal Architectural Review. The zine was produced alongside their community technical aid centre, Support, which provided architectural services to neighbourhood groups. Printed cheaply in black, white and red, ARse was a resolutely left-wing publication that set out to critique the architectural profession's complicity in capitalist society.

Zines such as Utopie (1967-1978) were research projects in their own right, produced by an editorial collective that included architects, urbanists and sociologists, whose core members were Isabelle Auriscoste, Jean Baudrillard, Michelle Guillou and Hubert Tonka. Utopie as a group came together in 1966 at Henri Lefebvre's ouse in the Pyrenees and his influence is felt throughout the seven issues that were produced, including theoretical texts and collages that speculated on a new practice of architecture that attended to everyday life. The collaborative nature of the publication was reflected in its format with a column reserved for comments. Alongside the publication, Utopie also produced exhibitions, pamphlets and organised related events.

Other DIY publications such as glaspaper (2001-2007) aimed at taking the discussion around architecture and the built environment to those who would not normally have access to it. G.L.A.S was a collective of architecture students, teachers and designers, who produced a total of eight thematic issues on topics such as 'learning and education' and 'transport and movement'.

Whether in the form of zines, blogs or pamphlets alternative publishing is a means of bypassing the mainstream publishing industry. Instead, niche interests can be catered for and distribution networks created through personal contacts and overlapping interests. At a time when both the architectural profession and academia are dominated by a few big names, alternative publishing offers a way out of the homogenised discourse, offering space for a multitude of voices.

Key Projects

References About

"A Few Zines: Dispatches from the Edge of Architectural Production," Loud Paper, http://loudpaper.typepad.com/loudpaper/a-few-zines/

"Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X," http://www.clipstampfold.com

Rita Flórez, "Why Zines Won't Die," GOOD.is/Stimuli, 2007, http://www.good.is/post/rita-florez-on-why-zines-wont-die/

Andrea Moed, "The zine-ing of architecture," Metropolis 17, no. 8 (May 1998).

Chip Rowe, The Book of Zines: Readings from the Fringe, 1st ed. (New York: Owl Books, 1997).

"Go Sheffo," http://www.dontgo.co.uk/fanzine.php

"Infiltration," http://www.infiltration.org/

"K JET JUNK JETJUNK JET JUNK JET JUNK JET JUNK JET JUN," http://junkjet.net/

"Loud Paper-dedicated to increasing the volume of architectural discourse," http://www.loudpapermag.com/

"Sumoscraper : Urban Operations," http://urbanops.org/index.php?/zines/sumoscraper/

"glaspaper: critical writings on architecture and space (2001-2007)," www.glaspaper.com

Quotes

'There's something about being able to hand somebody a copy of your zine. There's more of a personal interaction. When I ask people what they love about reading zines, they mention that it's not just getting the zine, it's getting this note from the person who made the zine. It became a personal correspondence.'
Chip Rowe quoted in, Rita Flórez, "Why Zines Won't Die," GOOD.is/Stimuli, 2007, http://www.good.is/post/rita-florez-on-why-zines-wont-die/

'Like architecture, DIY publishing comes burdened by physicality. In a strange twist of fate, however, it is the distribution network of little magazines that unburdens architecture.'

- Mimi Zeiger, Loud Paper Broadsheet, 4(4).

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