The last official lockdown encouraged us to come together and find ways to build a sense of community, fill our time and make sense of the perpetually unprecedented. Whilst some of us have been shielding throughout for most of us returning to lockdown mark II is daunting, frustrating…. (fill in your own emotional responses here……)
It seems sensible to pick up some of the beautiful energy from #IOUBookclub, hosted on my personal instagram and inspired by Vivienne Westwood’s #IntellectualsUnite to try and help us help each other get through this next phase.
With contributions from Pam Thurschwell, Chris Warne, Charlotte Delaney, Jodie Prenger and Claire Langhamer.
We will have exciting announcements about the book club’s return soon but alongside that we wanted to get something new going too.
In the precedented world this would be the point in term when myself and Chris Warne would be gathering old magazines, ordering glue sticks and Tippex to run our (fan)zine making workshop with our third year Special Subject students on ‘Post-Rave Britain’.
Buoyed by this year’s students’ commitment and resilience we have developed a remotely delivered version of our zine making workshop that we want to extend beyond the seminar (either virtual or face to face). DIT Born Digital DejaLockdown Zine is an experiment to explore how (fan)zines time travel, how the material holdable object relates to its digital reproduction, and to see if zines might helps us Do [Lockdown.2] Together.
What is a zine? A DIY, low cost, easily reproduced, quick to make, publication
(fan)zines are often associated with punk and the cut and paste aesthetic of Sniffing Glue or Jamie Reid’s work, they didn’t suddenly appear from nowhere in 1976. Zines can be traced by to the fan work of scifi fans in the 1930s, or even further back into the history of radical tracts produced on the sly to spread dissent, or women’s sketchbooks and diaries, and extend far beyond punk into football supporters, northern soul fans, riot grrrls, ravers and more. (Whatever the punk boys might tell us – it really isn’t all about them).
The History of our DIT zine workshops
We worked with artist Rachael House to develop our first zine workshop in 2015.
Since then Chris, and I have explored layering digital content using augmented reality (AR) triggers or QR codes onto the physical paper of a handmade zine. These digital layers added new content such as short videos where students gave feedback on the process of developing the zine collectively, or explained what the zine was designed for, and links to existing content from other websites and resources to add contextual content.
It was the very closeness and touchiness of zines’ traditional form that made a traditional workshop such high risk during the pandemic.
We were interested in the relationship between the ‘original’ paper zine and the digital copy of the zine. Much of the current interest in zines and zine-workshops comes from a nostalgia for the hand made and holdable, in a digital world. For example, archives have been crowd sourcing their zine collections using social media.
These zines were not originally designed to be archived, they were designed to be swapped, shared, tell personal stories, and build communities through ‘networks of paper’. In many ways then, these archived zines are in the ‘wrong place’.
#IOUBookclub Lessons for Fanzines
A stories’ historical meaning is accrued through its journey from context of production, through genre, content and form, and into reception and interpretation.
So what are we doing when we put our stories (with all the meanings that they have accrued) in the ‘wrong place’? For example read C19th Novels on Instagram or turn (fan)zines designed to be made, reproduced and shared by hand into pdfs shared on social networking sites.
There are many many ways to read and we don’t come to texts in the ‘right order’, so we might have heard the song Romeo and Juliet before we watched the film of it before we explored the original play. Each time we encounter the story in whatever order and whatever form that meaning is again accrued and applied to our next encounter. Zines, therefore, might introduce you to a new philosopher, or teach you a new history, or review a band who sing about books. They exemplify Vivienne’s point that if you think, protest, read, or look at art you are not the audience you ARE the intellectual. Furthermore their reuse and repurposing of bits of text, lyrics and images move stories from one place to another.
What we plan to do
Over the next four weeks we will share a series of zine masterclasses with you via @proflrobinson on instagram. Researchers will share their experiences of working with, archiving, and collecting zines.
- We will invite you to explore our collection of online zine archives and, looking for inspiration from a wide variety of zines on different subjects, from different places and collected for different reasons.
- We will invite everyone of our #IOUbookclub community to create a zine page in paper physical form, and scan or photograph it and share it on my insta account or on this blog. Your individual pages will come together to build our own community zine.
- We will share tips on making your own zine – you don’t need to be able to draw, cut and paste montage cut out from old newspapers and magazines can work really effectively. So can repurposing the speech bubbles in comics and cartoons, include your favourite quotes, or lyrics or just using hand written script. REMEMBER you do not need to worry about making the actual zine, folding paper etc. we are going to produce a digital zine from your individual pages.
All you need to do is explore the examples and resources that we share and create your own page around the theme of ‘Stories to survive the DejaLockdown’.
Upload them to the discussion thread on insta, or add them as a comment on here by 2 December 2020