Abandon Normal Devices is an annual arts festival celebrating digital culture and the ways in which people engage with a rapidly changing technological environment. The festival alternates between Liverpool and Manchester, and is always filled with pretty groundbreaking work, so we were really pleased to receive a micro-commission this time around.
In keeping with this year’s theme – Success — we decided to create a fanzine-style publication which contrasted the traditional awestruck, home-made, low-circulation zine with content pilfered from the online profiles of artists involved in the festival. Titled The Inventory, the zine was meant as a glimpse at the changing role of the internet as a tool to promote and publicise an individual’s career.
We wanted to question how the role of artist — and to some extent, anybody who uses social media platforms — had evolved, using Marshall McLuhan’s 1967 work The Medium Is The Massage: An Inventory of Effects as our starting point. Considering the ways in which the internet creates a prism through which a person’s character and career can be viewed, it seemed appropriate to look to McLuhan’s work with its emphasis on the method of communication over the actual material being communicated.
Alongside this, we included tips from brash online marketing consultancies, which analysed how best to “extend your influence” online — right down to the length of characters needed for a successful tweet.
We handed out copies of the finished zine at as many of the festival sites as we could get to, which was a good way of making sure we got to see a lot of the work on show. Particular highlights included Wafaa Bilal’s Meme Junkyard — a huge inflatable Techno Viking head, sustained purely on #technoviking tweets, and Border Bumping, which reworked national boundaries according to where mobile phone networks placed them. Skype karaoke at the Salutation pub was another of many enjoyable moments.
There are still a couple of copies of The Inventory left, so if you’d like one, feel free to drop us a line on email@example.com