Counter-Signals #3 (Fall 2018–Winter 2019)
Editors: Jackie Henrie Fisher, Alan Smart
Publisher: Other Forms
Contributors: Brian Ang, Danielle Aubert, Hannah Bruckmüller, Experimental Jetset, Tom Fisher, Dominique Hurth, John Komurki, Nicole Marroquin, Leah Pires, Library Stack, Simon Sadler, Heath Schultz, Andrew Shurtz, Nicholas Thoburn, McKenzie Wark, and Michelle Weinroth.
Counter-Signals is a bi-annual journal addressing, in variable iterations, different aspects of the intersection of design, media, and politics. The third issue of Counter-Signals —(All the Way) Down With Platforms— jumps off from contemporary theorizations of “platform capitalism” to consider a collection of projects and discourses engaged with a broadly defined array of framing and support structures, whether material, institutional, or conceptual.
Following trajectories from the first two issues, number three stages a new set of materialist séances—with readings not only of printed texts from a communist genealogy that includes William Morris, Marx and Engels, and the Black and Red Gang (oh yeah and Mallarmé and Broodthaers)—but also of events: the student occupation of Froebel high school in Chicago 1972, Brussel’s Worlds Fair 1958, the burning of Grenfell tower in 2016, and the planned demolition of Robin Hood Gardens. These readings aspire to theorize a political horizon for design that is articulated by the medium-specific aesthetics of capitalism as well as by the emergence of new fields of class conflict in information economies.
This volume hopefully offers, by looking backwards and forward, a materialist account of the concrete present situation, one that is ambiguously attended by both the reifying-cum-value-shredding emergence of blockchain as a medium of value and the dialectical re-emergence of the Risograph as a technique for autonomous cultural production. The issue is framed both by a short intervention by Alan Smart on the stacking turtles of our contemporary platforms, along with a re-presentation of McKenzie Wark’s two-part essay on the “Vectoralist Class.” The texts and images assembled in this issue span a range of discourses from political activism to design and art to poetry to architecture to historical scholarship.
At 156 pages, this is the thickest Counter-Signals yet. It’s heavy in many senses (all the senses of its heaviness, stacking like turtles, reflexively adds to its weight). It’s also the brightest and it’s the blackest, but you can take off your gloves this time because the paper is (semi-) coated. With the aesthetic seduction of a phonebook, page after page of this volume will threaten your senses with brilliant monotony. And don’t worry, with a fully laminated cover (still not sure how that happened), it’s built to last the vagaries of art book fairs, fugitive reading rooms, “platform capitalism,” and all the rest.