SECRETS OF THE PHOTOCOPIER

You, The Contextual Villains, Paper/cuts, 7U?, Breakdown Press, Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, All Thumbs Press, DNA, Ianto Ware, Web, The Life And Times of Mavis McKenzie, Erinsborough Exploits
Secrets of the Photocopier
A group exhibition and part of Sticky Institute's Festival of the Photocopier
4th of February – 29th of February, 2008
Platform Artists Group & Sticky Institute, Degraves Street subway, Melbourne

 

As part of Sticky’s Festival of the Photocopier, we displayed all of our zines to date (save Is there kunst in the house (2002) as we've but one copy between us). Our single cabinet featuring a watercoloured arctic landscape, twenty-one animals, fashioned from wood, dusted snow white and given face by felt-tip pen, included copies of the following,
Everything between home & work (2002)
Looking out the window (2003)
Where does the musk rat keep his musk? (2003)
Omar & Olive — chinese whispers with other creatures they meet wandering through their dreams (2004)
Omar & Olive — what they'd really like in their friskies feast cat food (2004)
How to... (make a concertina, fold out book & a wrap around book) (2005)
How to... (plan for commercial printing and understand printing terminology & color concepts) (2005)
11.5 fossils (2006)
Geschlecht und Schoklade (2006)
How to... (spot a phoney fossil) (2006)
Footy Essentials (2006)
Postcards from... If we stand very still, no one will notice (2007)
How to... (Be a little more green) (2007)
What Do You Think? (2007)
Three in the Kitchen (2007)
Postcards from... A trapdoor in every room (2007)
Have Wheels, Will Go (2007)
Small Collection (2008)
Before it's too late (2008)

 

Ravening/Ravelling/Revelling

Book Arts newsletter
No. 40, March/April 2008
UWE Bristol, School of Creative Arts, Department of Art and Design


Review by Jurate Sasnaitis

Secrets of the Photocopier, an exhibition at Platform Artists Group, as part of Festival of the Photocopier presented by Sticky Institute

Zines are often difficult to define and it is this difficulty of defining zines that contributes to its ever-changing dynamics and freedom that encourage experimentation and innovative art forms. — public service announcement by Sticky Institute

Does anyone still remember the Gestetner machine, a method of reproducing documents by stencil? Does anyone remember the drum and unstable blue ink of the mimeograph? Does anyone know that 'photostat' is not another word for photocopy? It's actually the original projection photocopying process invented in the 1900s. Gosh those were the days! Making multiples was not that easy: technology was neither accessible nor cheap. Now we have inexpensive, easily accessible copying. Moreover practically every home, business and institution has a printer attached to their computer. The world is the oyster of every bod inspired to self-publish a small circulation, non-commercial, minority interest zine.

ravening: [of a ferocious wild animal] extremely hungry and hunting for prey

On the other hand, practically every bod and her uncle with a computer attached to that printer has her own blog. So what’s the point, you may well ask, why bother? If blogging is replacing the zine, how is it that a zine exhibition in the Degraves St Subway can attract hundreds of punters, not merely passing on their way to catch a train but genuinely interested and intrigued? Easy! Because there is something about the tangible object, whether that's to do with ownership or tactile appreciation or the colour and texture and delight of many different ideas rubbing up against each
other, people love it. People need it...

ravelling: [noun rare] a tangle, a cluster, or knot

I love it! I walk wide-eyed with wonder by the stalls and exhibition windows of the launch of Festival of the Photocopier, pouncing occasionally on that particularly tasty miniature book or "monster in a box". From a distance Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison's fluorescent lit window is a blur of bluish-white; closer, a melange of white critters have escaped the confines of the arctic watercolour behind them and skitter across an icy ground strewn with at least 19 zines (hope I counted correctly), publications which prove that low tech does not equate with low quality. Here it is possible to learn many things, from putting a publication together in How to... plan for commercial printing to the more esoteric archaeological pursuit of How to... spot a phoney fossil. Oh, and is that marsupial-rat-thingy (not good on animals, sorry) about to chew on Gracia's collages in Postcards from... A trapdoor in everyroom? And is the lazy turtle about to get off on Have wheels, will go, the zine for those with major automobile lurve, or is turtle turned on by Footy Essentials, or frozen by the thought behind Louise's Before it's too late? So much to savour, not least of which a few recipes from Three in the Kitchen, a collaboration between Shari Altman, Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison.

revelling: engage in lively and noisy festivities, esp. those which involve drinking and dancing

People make beautiful things though they speak of the injustices and madness of the contemporary world. I wend my way through the crowds and attempt to find a common thread amidst the plethora of ideas and the range of print technology. After all, 'photocopier' is a bit of a misnomer when faced with the splendid production of Present History from The Contextual Villains, for which they won an Australian Desktop Magazine Award in the category of Best Design for Creative Print Media. What does emerge are notions of political vandalism, social satire, visual appropriation and the primary function of sharing a very particular enthusiasm, if not obsession. From All Thumbs Press you might get a pithy comment on cultural difference, hand printed with big fat stamps and illustrated with delicate pencil drawings. From DNA a sample of a real FANzine dedicated to punk and alternative music that goes back to 1979! Erinsborough Exploits speaks for itself, or rather, from the mouths of soap stars come philosophical musings that never graced the storyboards of prime time television.

The twelve windows of Secrets of the Photocopier reveal far more than what is implied by the title of this exhibition. It's the secrets of the heart we find here; years of changing and challenging passions laid out for our amusement, and perhaps our edification.

 
Zines are a low-budget, accessible 'democracy of the multiple' form of artistic and written expression, usually centred around photocopier technology as an easy and immediate form of reproduction, the zine then being freely distributed at little or no cost. Zines are often difficult to define and it is this difficulty of defining zines that contributes to its ever-changing dynamics and freedom that encourage experimental and innovative art forms.
(Sticky Institute)