Contemporary Journals: More than Meets the Eye

Over the last twenty years, new technologies in fine arts publishing expanded creative options and changed the way journals could be issued. Whereas traditional journals consist of text and/or reproductions, contemporary journals may also have a unique physical shape, include added materials, or have significant web content and interaction. Both individual artists and publishers have taken advantage of the new possibilities and cleverly used creativity and technology with stimulating results.

Thirst Magazine is a limited edition art journal published by visual artist T.R. Ericsson, a native of Ohio. Ericsson uses the journal as a forum to display his work in various formats: printed version (no. 11), original prints (no. 4), and even a shot glass (no. 9). Issues of Thirst Magazine are chronicled at www.thirstmagazine.com.

Atlas is a publication that can be described as a journal in an artist book format created by Jake Tilson. The library has a boxed set for volumes 1 to 4, which includes the printed versions, attached booklets and art activities, original artwork (i.e. prints), a video, and art kits.

The British publication Contemporary, with printed and online versions, is a "multi-faceted magazine, covering visual arts, news, books, trivia, architecture, design, fashion, film, music, new media, photography, dance, sport." Limited editions of original prints come with the printed issue several times a year. Even the original prints may not be traditional in contemporary publications. A Damien Hirst print is displayed on a balloon and another artist chose to print in the form of a temporary tattoo.

21st: the journal of contemporary photography, culture and criticism is a journal that was added to the library collection due to the increased acquisition activity in the museum's photography collection. Each boxed issue features hand-pulled photogravure images from leading contemporary photographers, along with criticism and prose from noted writers and poets.

Trans > arts, cultures, media (no longer published) is a multilingual journal that has "published critical and creative writing, commissioned artists' projects and produced limitless artists' editions … also addressed film, theater, dance, literature, music." Gimmicks were attached to printed issues and have included an artist's survival kit (Issue 9/10), a sheet of gum (Issue 8) and an attached flipbook (Issue 7).

Nest (no longer published) is a publication that explores interiors and describes itself as "where high-style London and Paris interiors meet igloos and prison cells on equal terms". Nest issues often played with physical shape and presentation. The Summer 2003 issue (no. 21) shows the journal's creative use of shape. The Fall 2000 issue contains the printed copy contained in a plastic bag. A cover designed by an artist graces issue no. 19 (Winter 2002-03), and a cover displayed as a cut-out is on the front of the Spring 2000 issue (no. 8). Issue no. 6 (Fall 1999) includes a make your own art gallery paper model.

Both Nest and TRANS > arts, cultures, media had significant electronic content while in publication. Limited content is still available for TRANS > arts, cultures, media at www.transmag.org and a list of Nest issues is available at www.webhustlers.com/nest/archive/.