Collective editing for next documenta 12 magazine
babelmed - 29/11/2005
Over the next two years, documenta 12 will open a dialogue with around 70 magazines, journals and online media from all over the world; a network will be created that aims
to explore and discuss topics of current interest and relevance (not only) to the documenta 12. This dialogue will focus on three main themes – modernity as antiquity, subjectification and education – with particular emphasis being placed on reflecting the interests and specific knowledge of the respective local contexts. The debates will be published in the print and online media directly involved with the project, in an online version of the ‘documenta 12 magazine’ and in three publications (each concentrating on one of the topics outlined above) to be issued in advance of the documenta 12 exhibition in Kassel, Germany. Participating magazines will be invited to publish independent contributions, but also to react to and comment upon the contributions made by other participants, and in this way initiate a multilingual dialogue. This ‘journal of journals’ is conceived as a forum of contemporary aesthetic discourse.
The questions to be addressed in the dialogues relate to fundamental concerns in the realm of contemporary art: what does cultural transfer actually mean? Where is the line drawn between theoretical assumption and aesthetic practice? What do images want? What form do discourses take in the supposed ‘centres’ and the apparently peripheral areas? What changes in thematic emphasis and paradigmatic shifts occur between different artistic disciplines? How, if at all, does the concept of artistic work differ from other kinds of work?
Background and context
One of the central issues of an art exhibition taking place in the context of a globalised world is the question of how to impart specific local knowledge; how to convey images that derive from, but also go beyond, the bounds of a particular location. How is this
local knowledge reflected in documenta 12? How does it manifest itself? How does the process of transferral take place? This is the starting-point for the “documenta 12 magazine”: not just as a transfer medium, but as a form of organisation. At the same time, the creation of the Magazine is itself a communication process that not only opens up a number of themes and priorities, it also reveals works.
The periodicals and editors involved in the documenta 12 publication project act as a central interface between the realms of art production, art discourse and art criticism. They play a key mediatory role, translating discursive positions into terms that can be understood and utilised by both specialist and wider audiences, including the major audiovisual media. The art magazine is the medium that not only reflects the structure
of the relationship between art and theory/art and audience, but also formulates questions of artistic practice and theory. The participants were selected not according to the size and reach of the individual publications but on the basis of the discourses they hold and their specific relevance to the questions described above. The project therefore spans a wide range of different media, from very small publications operating primarily in a narrowly defined language area through to large global media, and includes every conceivable stage in between.
Structure and development process
An editorial team is currently working with local experts and publishers to draw up a map of project partners. From summer 2005 onwards, the conceptual and intellectual background to the topics featured in the three documenta 12 publications will be elaborated in project meetings involving publishers, critics, theorists and artists. Each of the partner media will use one of its issues to discuss, develop and explore these topics in greater depth, devoting an article, section or even the entire issue to the subject; a variety of formats may be employed – interviews, essays, reports or accounts – depending on the particular interests of the medium concerned.
These texts and contexts will provide the source material for the three documenta 12 publications and the online magazine. In addition, the ‘journal of journals’ will contain texts that are considered to be definitive within the context of the documenta 12. Each
of the three publications will therefore offer an introduction to one of documenta 12’s core themes, in a form that is accessible to both a specialist audience and the interested layman.
The first issue of the “documenta 12 magazine” will be published in spring 2006 in a bilingual edition (German/English). An online version will also be available in other world languages such as Russian, Chinese, Spanish, French or Arabic. An advanced print-on-demand system will allow users to select information according to their own interests.
The issue here is not the role of discourses in artistic practice, but rather art itself – its media, dialects and transformations in different roles, regions and realities. The project aims to open up channels for new and independent distribution networks, and to encourage flexible forms of translocal communication. Particular efforts will be made towards achieving the long-term goal of building information networks and databases that are sustainable beyond the scope of documenta 12. The network project also intends to bring together and demonstrate the experience of authors, theorists and artists who are working on the application of contemporary discourses on a local level, and to compare their knowledge with that gained from other situations and contexts. A further key objective is to establish international cooperative relations that will continue to exist beyond the period of the project.
One of the most impressive examples of collective editing is without doubt “Wikipedia”. The “documenta 12 magazine” project aims to take this development of internet-based technologies a step further and create a new platform for networked magazine projects. The editorial network of around 70 magazines will work in a decentralised manner and
be embedded within the respective cultural and journalistic contexts. Using the online platform of the publication project, content that is compiled on a local level can be discussed by the entire editorial team and published in a range of different languages. Besides texts, the platform will provide image formats as well as audio and video media. In addition, readers can create their own magazines from the available content material and save these as PDF files directly from the system. In this way the publication project will present a cartography of the discussions surrounding topics related to the documenta 12: content can be presorted according to specific cultural contexts, partner media or languages. Underlying the online platform is a democratic notion of technology, and the system is based on Open Source software. The developed solution will be freely available and can therefore also be used by other independent media projects.
Online Content Management System
Based on an internal online editing system, which will serve as a multilingual user interface for the editors and translators involved in the project, the edited contents and translations will be published in an online magazine with a full-text search option. Print-on-demand functionality will enable the user to make an individual selection of articles, assembling them in a PDF format (similar to a shopping cart) and printing them out as required. (29/11/2005)