Volume I, Issue IV
With work by:
Mary Walling Blackburn
Shelby David Meier
Debora Delmar Corp
Jesse Morgan Barnett
Kevin Rubén Jacobs
Volume I, Issue IV: FUTURE
“The future is not what it used to be.” - Theodor Nelson
Welcome to the fourth issue of semigloss. Magazine. In continuing with our mission to curate the publication around a certain concept or theme, this issue focuses on the idea of Future. When we typically propose ideas about the future, the default context we seem to revert to is the realm of the temporal; making intuitive comparisons between what has come before, what is happening now, and what is yet to be. Ruminations on the future are quite often some combination of evaluating what has occurred, to determine or predict what will occur next, and making some speculation or projection into an ethereal unknown in order to explain what already is. As humans, this tendency is unavoidable as it affords us (if only temporarily) the illusion that we have some modicum of control over the events that take place throughout our lives. Speaking abstractly, to live (or to choose not to die) is to assume that a future exists indefinitely, when in reality this may or may not actually be the case.
As a more relatable extension of this propensity to project ourselves into times yet unseen, humans seem to revel in the act of inventing worlds that can only exist beyond our own time and experience. Perhaps in recognition of the sheer absurdity that we are predisposed to devote our lives so steadfastly to uncertain fate, we are easily able to recognize the potential for humor and levity in the treatment of such paradoxical ideas. Whether for entertainment value, cautionary purposes, or creating a safe, theoretical environment to test out utopian ideals, we love to construct what we can merely imagine, and because the future is and always will be essentially unknowable, it has always been fertile ground for creative exploration. Whether in film, literature, philosophy, or visual art, the one inescapable unifying factor about any creative approach to the future, or even discussing it at all, is that the only truly informed temporal perspective we have is based on the present. And even then, ideas held in the present are necessarily formed upon a foundation of information gleaned from the past. Therefore, it follows that in fact all imaginative glances towards the future end up firmly rooted in, and consequently being about, the past. Nelson’s statement that “The future is not what it used to be,” illuminates these propositions quite plainly.
Artists working during any era are inextricably linked to the influences and cultural phenomena of the time in which they are living as well as to the artists, historical aesthetic traditions, and personal/universal issues that compel one to make art in the first place. Whether the intention is to reference or completely deny these preceding shaping elements, any acknowledgment of them at all creates a connection, however accidental or intangible. As far back as documentation reveals, artists have occupied themselves by continually pushing boundaries of what has been created before, as well as reimagining existing mediums to invent forms of expression for a new age.
For the contemporary artist in 2013, a foray into tomorrow often involves appropriating emerging and developing technology (or rejecting it) as well as advancing thought to shift our conceptual frameworks about what art is and what it can be. With respect to the infinitely complex nature of the topic, this issue of semigloss. is an appropriately diverse collection of work representing an incredible spectrum of visual and written investigations into the future. Through the Tumblr stream Jogging, which he co-founded, artist Brad Troemel has created an art-historically aware, communal culture for the sharing and consumption of visual information, employing digital manipulation to found images to produce photographic collages that function like new-Readymades within the collective net-based consciousness. Also related to ideas of technology and visual communication is the augmented reality collaboration between Kim Asendorf and Alfredo Salazar-Caro, in which a virtual 3-dimensional self-portrait of Salazar-Caro is set in front a backdrop of tiled images gathered from advertisements tailored for his Facebook page, compiling a digital identity determined and driven by the personal data that he chooses to share online.
Not to succumb too readily to the compulsion towards an exclusively screen-centric conversation about the future, there are several pieces that instead emphasize the importance of discussing the physical and interpersonal as translated through relationships, sexuality, and body politics. Noah Simblist interviews experimental filmmakers A.L. Steiner and A.K. Burns about their film Community Action Center, which results in a radically compelling and illuminating discussion regarding queer theory, the aesthetic implications of pornography, and the intentional interplay between authentic and fantastical representations of bodies within that space. Life Studies, by Devon Nowlin, offers a raw, personal perspective on the vulnerability of relationships, publishing a real dialogue between the artist and her husband about how his diagnosis of young-onset Parkinson’s disease affects their mutual future together.
The diversity among the work in our fourth issue of semigloss. is unsurprising, while successfully capturing the multi-faceted nature of such a wide subject as the future. What is remarkable, however, are the wonderful connections and interactions that emerge between the individual pieces, creating a network of ideas about the future that simultaneously reinforce and transcend the individual messages contained within. To speculate further into what we may discover about the future or art or the internet or human relationships or sexual politics or anything else for that matter, it is crucial to remember, in the spirit of the absolute absurdity of engaging with the elusiveness of the unknown, that the future never actually arrives. And as such, its mystery will always remain a perpetually inspiring and infinite arena from which to draw ideas, construct meaning, and create experiences for the present.
--Sally Glass, Editor-in-Chief