Volume I, Issue II
With work by:
Michael A. Morris
Andrew Douglas Underwood
semigloss. Magazine Flip-Through: Issues 1-3
“People can wrap dishes in my work.” -Joseph Kosuth
Joseph Kosuth’s playful assertion, in reference to his Second Investigation (1968), a conceptual artwork in the form of advertisements placed in magazines and newspapers, aptly introduces the focal point of the second issue of semigloss. Magazine: Ephemera.
The relevance of ephemera to contemporary art practice—in the world at large and specifically the North Texas region—is present in several manifestations. Due to the ever-growing screen-centricity of our visual lives, it has become apparent that the definition of ephemera is effectively shifting from the realm of printed matter to the endlessly refreshable barrage of images and textual information accessible daily. As such, in the spirit of delightful irreverence with which Kosuth regards his artwork, and among an age in which printed publications are failing at rapid rates, it seemed an appropriate act of humorous defiance to deliberately produce a printed art document that responds to this very dilemma.
All of the artists included in this issue have beautifully interpreted the notion of ephemera both visually and conceptually, and from many angles. Through his discussion of cinema, for example, Michael A. Morris both critically responds to and expands upon the shifting of our experience of ephemera from the analog to the digital in the vein of cinematic culture, claiming that, “in the end, the mechanical and the photochemical will outlive the digital… [suggesting] that we have the wrong one identified as the signifier of the ephemeral.”
Meanwhile, by mining images gathered from yourworldoftext.com, R.CF transforms a simple Internet forum into a romantic, nostalgic visual narrative that speaks to the ephemerality of contact, communication, and the persistence of memory in our modern age. For his part, Kevin Todora approached several sets of parents with the task of reading the dictionary definition of ephemera to their young children, instructing them to create drawings based on what they envisioned those words to look like. Not only does this exercise speak to the gorgeous imaginations of children and their inherent ability to touchingly interpret a visual idea in the least expected or predictable ways but also to the impermanence and preciousness of youth.
In discussing the relationship between conceptions of ephemera and print media, it seems apropos to consider conceptual artist Dan Graham’s role in revolutionizing the magazine as an alternative space for experimental art with his Homes For America “intervention” placed in Arts Magazine in 1966. In an interview with Mike Metz for Bomb Magazine in 1994, Graham states that he “realized how dependent the art world was on publicity and information.” By publishing an artwork directly in a magazine as its primary venue of reception, as opposed to an institution dedicated exclusively to the consumption of art, the work itself was disseminated through widely accessible channels of public information thereby neutralizing its market value and undermining the existing systems of commodification in place for artists and collectors. This result, coupled with the disposability of magazines, motivated Graham to regard the ephemerality of the magazine, or the “physicality of print”, to be a matter of great conceptual importance in his work. Due in part to its aesthetic and historical associations, the notion of ephemera provides a rich potential for artistic exploration. It seems only appropriate to explore this subject through a vehicle that is in itself ephemeral and traditionally disposable. Nevertheless, it is my hope that this publication remains in the world as a physical reminder of the beauty and thoughtfulness that spurred its very creation.
— Sally Glass, Editor-in-Chief