Upcoming: The Mobile is the Massage – EPUB as an Inventory of Effects


The Mobile is the Massage – EPUB as an Inventory of Effects
9-10th of April 2015, IUAV University of Venice
Magazzini Ligabue, Dorsoduro 1827

Presentations (Thursday, from 9:30 to 13:00)

  • “Formless, Definite, Interactive: the Attitudes of Ebooks”, Jacopo Pompilii
  • “Digital Publishing: In Defense of Poor Media”, Silvio Lorusso

Workshop (Thursday, from 14.30 to 18:00; Friday, from 9:30 to 16:00)

  • “The Mobile is the Massage – EPUB as an Inventory of Effects”

Formless, Definite, Interactive: the Attitudes of Ebooks, Jacopo Pompilii

The term ‘ebook’ is often linked to relatively recent devices such as the iPad or the Kindle. Its origins are actually far more distant: over time, several ebook formats have appeared, each with its own features and intents which imply diverse ways of creating and publishing content. A comprehensive overview of these will be shown in order to make visual designers more aware of the available opportunities.

Digital Publishing: In Defense of Poor Media, Silvio Lorusso

This talk pays homage to “In Defense of the Poor Image”, an essay in which, German artist and writer Hito Steyerl (2009) speaks of the kind of “charge” that the poor image – an image that “has been uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and reedited” – acquires while circulating through networks. I argue that, in the field of digital publishing, poor media are able to “transform quality into accessibility,” like the poor image does. Poor media substantiate the book’s potential of duplication and dissemination. Conversely, rich media are the product of a commercial doctrine based on an ornamental understanding of digital technology, an Hollywoodian rhetoric of engagement, and a reactionary conception of the publishing process.

The Mobile is the Massage – EPUB as an Inventory of Effects

The Medium is the Massage, written by Marshall McLuhan, designed by Quentin Fiore, and produced by Jerome Agel in 1967 is a milestone. Highly influenced by the kaleidoscopic effects of television, it helped to popularize McLuhanism, an irresistible mix of theories around media and messianic claims about the developments of society at large. We’ll attempt to translate this “cinematic paperback” into an ebook in EPUB format, a widespread free and open standard for digital books. For pragmatic reasons (not everyone owns a dedicated ereader), the smartphone will be our privileged reading device. Given both the potential of the EPUB and its limitations, the translation process won’t be neutral. Instead, we’ll need to actively interpret the peculiar graphic solutions employed by McLuhan and Fiore in this self-reflexive paperback.

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