INCITE, Journal of Experimental Media

With a week left to go in INCITE‘s Kickstarter campaign, we emailed Brett Kashmere, editor of the Pittsburgh film zine which has strong ties to our own reputable Winnipeg film scene. The image above, if you haven’t recognized it, is from Jaimz Asmundson‘s The Magus which is discussed in the upcoming issue which is going to be printed. There’s still plenty of time to become a backer for the mag, like I have, and have an opportunity to get physical copies of the zine that straddles the line between a serious journal and an art zine, as well as receive plenty of other rare incentives, which are also discussed below.

Stylus: The theme of the new issue is New Ages. What parallels have you drawn between today’s use of New Age symbolism and its origins?
The theme, “New Ages” is meant to provoke a range of interpretations and readings.  Most obvious is the reference to the “New Age” spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century, and which gained mainstream awareness during the height of self-absorbed Reaganomics and the rise of corporate power. While it’s easy to ridicule New Age-ism for being a wishy-washy brand of quasi-religious mysticism, it is also rooted in the concepts of self-improvement, physical and mental health, and environmental responsibility. This duality—of alternative spirituality based in holistic health, environmentalism, meditation, and simple living, and its pop commercialization (i.e. whale music CDs sold in strip malls)—produced a values-based sociopolitical phenomenon that was hard to take seriously.

Over the past decade, there has been a clear renewal of interest in New Age symbolism. How do we account for the current fascination with New Age ideas and aesthetics among many of media artists, many of whom grew up in “New Age” households? As ironic appropriation? As a desire to reconnect with some of the original core principles of the movement, such as non-Western medicine, environmental causes, organic farming, etc? As ’80s-era nostalgia? This is one of the questions that permeate through the issue. The Web 2.0, via services such as YouTube, has made it possible to instantly re-experience the media memories of our recent past or stoke a younger generation’s enchantment with a past not their own.  In an era marked by both religious and political fervor and cynicism, it’s hard not to see the positive in reclaiming an inclusive, optimistic, if naive, spiritual movement.

The phrase “New Ages” also points to a generational divide in today’s experimental film, video, and new media spheres. The emergence of digital technology has had an enormous impact on contemporary screen practices.  This impact extends from how media art is conceived of an made; to how it’s taught, circulated, exhibited, and disseminated; to how communities form to support and sustain it. The nature of the discourse around this work has likewise morphed. Just as iMovies and Flip cameras have democratized the means of production, stimulating more diverse content, the Web has transformed distribution while engendering and empowering more interactive forums for discussion, commentary, promotion, and exchange. These new forums connect makers, viewers, and analysts in more direct ways, leading to a different kind of critical atmosphere.
Those are some of the main organizing ideas and starting points for the issue.

Stylus: What part have Winnipeg artists played in your magazine? In this issue, and in past ones?
Winnipeg-affiliated artists and writers have played a huge part in the early history of INCITE.  I’ve been to Winnipeg several times over the past half-decade o present screenings at the Cinematheque and to show work at the WNDX festival.  We even launched the website for INCITE at the first edition of WNDX. Through these visits, I’ve made a lot of friends and acquaintances in Winnipeg, and many of those friendships have developed into working relationships.

For instance, Walter Forsberg has been a regular contributor to INCITE from the very start.  We published the Atelier national du Manitoba’s “Hortizontalist Manifesto” in the first issue of INCITE, as well as Solomon Nagler’s critical essay about the Atelier’s work.  Walter has since contributed pieces on Cory Arcangel and the computer animation pioneer Lillian Schwartz, and is now helping us to create a subscription program for university libraries. Leslie Supnet and Clint Enns both provided art work for the first issue.  Noam Gonick wrote a nice personal essay about his film “1919” for the second, “Counter-Archive” issue, and we published “1919” on the DVD that comes with it.  The Cinematheque’s Dave Barber also wrote a great piece for INCITE #2, about the under-appreciated work of “Prairie Landscape Surrealist” Mike Maryniuk, which we had initially discussed on one of my first trips to Winnipeg many years back.

As for the new issue, Winnipeg is again well-represented: Jaimz Asmundson reflects on the process of making his new film, The Magus, Clint Enns considers the notion of structural digital video, and Leslie Supnet has a new drawing, titled “Ghost in the Machine,” that complements Clint’s essay.

Stylus: What place is there for criticism in an age when many artists’ works are online?
Traditionally, critics have acted as conduits between artists’ work and the public.
When everyone is a maker, who is the critic? With so much work being made today, I think the role of the critic has become increasingly important, even if it doesn’t quite resonate in the same way. It seems as though blogs and other online publishing formats, like Huffington Post-style news aggregators, have displaced traditional magazines and journals as the primary forum for interpretation and analysis today.  But I think that print publications still have an important place in today’s cultural environment.  A 6,000 word essay works better on paper than it does on the Internet, and it serves a different purpose than a blog post.  That’s why I like that INCITE exists in both formats — it’s important that the ideas can disseminate widely, and that the writing is easily accessible. Putting the issues in print signals a commitment, and a degree of posterity that blogs don’t always provide.  A lot gets lost in the mix online.  Just because something is uploaded, doesn’t ensure that anyone is looking at.  Critics, and the publishing platforms that support them, provide context and meaning, and point us towards the work and that ideas that are exciting and relevant.

Stylus: What are some of the incentives that you have lined up for people who become backers for your magazine?
We recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the printing of the third issue, which ends in early November.
We’re offering rewards such as INCITE journal issues, posters, DVDs, and postcards, as well as an array of goodies from past and current contributors.  You can reserve a full INCITE set — all three issues of the journal, including a pull-out poster manifesto, a “Counter-Archive” DVD compilation, and a silk-screened postcard, for $50.

Jacob Ciocci (formerly of Paper Rad collective) donated a LP / DVD / MP3 combo pack titled “ROTFLOL – Rolling on The Floor Laughing Out Loud.”  It’s essentially a “best of” collection of Jacob’s solo music from the past decade, soundtracks from videos and animations, as well as a selected discography of self released cassettes, hand made CDRs, 7 inch vinyl, and live recordings. The collection attempts to gather this output as its own musical statement on vinyl LP, along with a full DVD of selected video works (some classics, such as the Peace Tape, and some yet unseen face melters) as well as a digital download including over an hours worth of “bonus tracks.”Craig Baldwin donated a handful of DVDs from his Other Cinema label, including copies of his recent feature film “Mock Up On Mu” (about the militarization of space), as well as Sam Green’s documentary “Rainbow Man/John 3:16,” Animal Charm’s “Golden Digest,” and a compilation of films by the Cuban director Santiago Alvarez which is really hot!  We also have a sweet, four-color offset print by Ciocci, Peter Glantz, and Becky Stark (of Lavender Diamond), numbered and signed by all three artists, titled “Your Heart is a Prism!”

And for those with the means to make a larger contribution, we have a charming, limited-edition print by Winnipeg’s own Leslie Supnet: A brand new silkscreened portrait of George Kuchar, made specially for our Kickstarter campaign. Kuchar, a legend of underground cinema who passed away recently at the age of 69, was perhaps best known for his enterprising DIY spirit, an aspect lovingly captured in Supnet’s portrait, titled “There’s a lot of things in life worth living for, isn’t there?”

Here is a quick link to the Kickstarter project for anyone who is interested:

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