ISSUE 1-4 can be downloaded here
“Machines? Extension of man, integrating into himself, extension of social structures and integrating into them, they are, at all times, identical to ourselves. They are us; they are, like us, beautiful, and ugly, like us. To develop them, to construct them, is to construct ourselves.”
(Lafitte, 1932/1972, p. 101)
This statement by the first? Mechanologist Jacques Lafitte prefigures McLuhan and Haraway among others in declaring a relationship between human and machine that is more than connection between discrete bodies. Rather there is the suggestion that what we might call ‘humans’ and what we might call ‘machines’ are parts of fully integrated linkages touching, changing and transmitting.
ISSUE is an ongoing series of limited edition bound publications which, both in form and content explore the integrated understanding described above. They have been assembled, much like the machines of Breakdown, from available material and much (though not all) of their content relates to my current research. The processes involved in making these books/zines, binding, printing and pagination, create new relationships and juxtapositions of the material as do the inevitable breakdowns of mis-pagination, inversion, poor registration and machine failure that plague my efforts. Each ISSUE is produced in small editions of 5-7 with each individual displaying small to significant variation.
There follows a run down of ISSUE 1-7 in term’s of their form, content and variation.
Cover: Scrapbook paper taken from an album assembled by my family following a trip to America in 1976. My brother and I, finding the tales too onerous, soon gave up leaving many pages blank. The cover is printed using an inkjet printer and depicts the reactions of visitors to Jean Tinguely’s Metamatics in the 1950s and 60s.
Interior: Printed, typed and drawn on a discarded batch of thin sugar paper. Each sheet had to be taped to stronger paper to avoid the inkjet printer chewing it up. Some creasing and tearing still occurred as well as damage from the masking tape. Inkjet printing also tended to bleed though onto the reverse of each page causing visual interference. Multiple copies were achieved using blue carbon paper. There is evidence of smudging.
Binding: Sewn using waxed thread – a traditional bookbinding method.
Content: Being the first issue ISSUE 1 is filled as if there might not be any future issues, it is the only issue so far to contain a contents list, adjusted in each copy to cover the vagaries of my pagination. It contains amongst other things:
1. Images of the machines of Breakdown.
2. A manifesto written by Tinguely but then rendered even more unintelligible by optical character recognition software.
3. Three pieces of writing in which I discuss Functional Neurological Deficit, the mechanical seize and what it is like to be a robot.
4. Quotes by science fiction writer Brian Aldiss and ancient Greek poet Antiphanes.
This content is occasionally printed upside down, mis-paginated and interrupted by typographical mistakes. In one case the following Victor Frankenstein’s final words by Aldiss from his 1973 novel Frankenstein Unbound appears opposite a video still taken by a machine of its own inner workings.
“A purpose must be found, invented if necessary, a human purpose, human, putting us in control, fighting the itness of the great wheeling world.” (Aldiss, 1990, p.190)
It is clear in Aldiss’ narrative that Frankenstein is fighting the inevitable, and as perhaps the image opposite suggests in railing against the wheeling world, he is angry at himself. One thing that the book format (and its breakdowns) highlights is the connectedness of things.
As the paper stock was not depleted in the production of ISSUE 1 this issue is almost identical in format and production.
The content of ISSUE 2 mixes several narratives as well as references to the writing of Italo Calvino and J.G. Ballard. Passages describing a childhood trip to America are intertwined with the story of finding a box of 1970s slides (also from America) as well as a memory of an art teacher who painted science fiction book covers. The issue has a post apocalyptic feel as it links distant memory with recovered artefacts.
At this stage the original paper stock was running low requiring the addition of exercise book paper and a record sleeve. This edition moves away from narrative and juxtaposes a number of human-machine assemblages including in no particular order: Adorno and his record player, chains/Houdini/locks, Blondin/rope, aeroplane/Exupery. Other perhaps more mundane assemblages are represented by the chairlift, belisha beacons, and the inkjet printer which makes itself known by running low on ink and producing a broken image. In each case breakdown or the potential of breakdown are vital to the way in which the human and machine elements are connected.
Coming soon… ISSUES 4-7