Friday, February 3, 2006

"Private theory into public discourse"

For their 70th anniversary, Penguin released excerpts from their past publications in the form of pocketbooks. I picked up a bunch in Heathrow airport and read them on the flight home. Somewhere in the middle of Roald Dahl's brilliant Tales of the Unexpected, I thought how great it would be if there were academic equivalents to these little books. You know, affordable and portable excerpts of important texts and such that people outside the field would rarely slog through. I imagined that editors could guide readers through the most critical ideas using comics or something, and even relate them to current events and issues. It would actually be fun, I devised, to read these little books. And then I kind of forgot all about it.

But reading the Doors of Perception newsletter this morning, I see that MIT Press has already gone and done something reminiscent of what I was thinking. Under the editorial direction of Peter Lunenfeld, they have created the Mediawork Pamphlet Series:

"Mediawork Pamphlets explore art, literature, design, music, and architecture in the context of emergent technologies and rapid economic and social change. Mediawork Pamphlets are 'zines for grown-ups,' commingling word and image, enabling text to thrive in an increasingly visual culture. But the aims of the series extend beyond creating theoretical fetish objects. Mediawork Pamphlets transform private theory into public discourse, visual experimentation into cultural intervention. Private theory refers to those ideas that circulate within the hermetically sealed spheres of academia and the techno-culture. The pamphlets select texts from these discourses, distill insights and interventions from them, design a supportive visual context, and launch these hybrids out into a greater public. The Mediawork Pamphlets series is not intended to 'replace' other forms of discussion from books to journals to listservs to Web zines but rather to create a new category of public visual intellectuals, and new categories of audience as well."



Anonymous Giles said...

In many ways that's we've also been trying to achieve with the DIFFUSION eBook format and series of publications over the past 5 years:
We're also developing an online eBook generator to open up the format to others who don't have graphic design skills or access to sophisticated DTP software:

Blogger Anne said...

Yes indeed! Plus DIY publishing has great potential...

Anonymous molly said...

Have you encountered Peter yet? He's a professor at Art Center in Pasadena, and we hosted him at Ivrea, where he talked about the series. It's been around for 2-3 years, I think.

... and it makes me wonder, might it be a good place for you to publish?


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