Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Cover art of OS

When I first started the journal, four years ago or so, I was really interested in the debate as to whether online journals were worthy of being arbitrators of art. That was only four years ago, now every journal and their mama wants to get online or get into some sort of downloadable version--ala the iPhone app, Kindle, Sony Reader and soon to a living room near you, the iPad. I think the online journal was part of that. I also feel that we're still not where we should be as a community. With the advent of the online journal there's greater flexibility of where your staff lives, how you can take submissions and you're freed up of a lot of time you would've been doing fund raising and working the printing press where you can be interacting with your writers. The reality is that new technology requires a new thought process of how you run your business and I still feel like we're not where we should be.

All of this was a very long way of getting around to my point about the cover design. When we started I would take print journals and take a picture of them and then copy play with them in photoshop. Over the years we've manipulated covers of Meridian, the CLMP directory, cheesy self-help books, Romanian poetry anthologies, etc.. all with the thought that the difference between print and web is a function of manipulation.

This quarter I did something different. In a small way I don't want to be silent any more about what is going on, while I don't want Our Stories to become a political journal (it never will be), with my own art and eye I'd like to do more to bring issues to the public. I took three images and manipulated them on top of the CLMP directory. I took the poster of Avatar, a Tea Party and the flag of Haiti and melded them into our cover. I saw Avatar and while I don't believe it is an unamerican movie it does seem to take a stand on the direction of our humanity, on the more peaceful direction that seems corrupted by corporate interests. I think it was the first movie I've ever seen where its message seemed to paint such a wide brush against a species--humans, fighting against the military/corporate agenda. Say what you will about the message of back to nature/anti-colonial/scientific fantasy utopia (all of which couldn't be done without colonial/industrial agendas) the rub is that Avatar is fiction. It is a Hollywood movie. Its message is cloaked in metaphor.

At the same time as the issue was coming out there was a high dollar ticket conference (which is why I gave them a picture of an actual tea party and not Boston like dumpring) for the faux-populist Tea Party, a group whose sole purpose is to delegimitize the White House and "game up" the Republican party. This isn't anything new--the entire Republican party has had the same game plan since Obama received the party's nomination. If it isn't "not an american citizen" it is "radical agenda" or "weak on terror" the tea party translation is that he is a terrorist, socialist and that they--in turn--are the patriots. Not only is this bogus, garbage populism supported and fed by Fox News. It strikes me as an agenda from the Conservative party to do nothing, provide nothing, act for nothing, care for nothing, develop nothing in the name of this deligitmation, effectively saying, "he is not our president" so we won't vote for anything he does. At worst, the Tea Party is saying "he is not even an american citizen" and at much worse, I will not even care to write out here in this blog.

And finally Haiti. Real suffering, an entire nation in crumbles, rocked to its core. While these two counterpoints of political ideology--both going too far in their reach and intellectual augmentations of how they'd like to see society--bicker as an entire nation melts.

I think art has a place in this discussion and through my writing I hope to get at more of this. I haven't been writing as much fiction as I would like lately and I think that's because it seems I'm at a place where I want to talk about issues as well as what can be presented in a fictional art form.

I think that's it for now. Enjoy the issue.


Brenda said...

I can't sleep and it 3:45 in the morning, and I am going to browse your online journal. It looks amazing.

justin nicholes said...

Beautiful. Though I'm mostly free in China from the special belligerence of American 24-hour news, I love the fact that these images were mixed into the cover.