Is There A World POST Print Magazines?
There may be four or five people reading this who don’t yet own an iPad. Some of you are stubborn technophobes; others of you steal hungry glances at the Apple store every time you pass. But whether you’ve bought in or not, the media industry has certainly heard the iPad’s call. Later this month, News Corp. is launching The Daily, an iPad-only newspaper. Virgin’s iPad-only Project magazine went live in November. And this week marks the launch of POST, an iPad-only culture bible put out by 20 Hoxton Square gallerist Alex Dellal. The brainchild of creative director Remi Paringaux, the former art director of Dazed & Confused and Vogue Hommes Japan, POST was explicitly conceived for the new multidimensional page. As Dellal notes, the iPad can not only display images, text, and video, but the audience can interact with that content, too, in a fluid and intuitive way. “What fascinates me,” Dellal says, “is exploring the dynamic of how content is received and how it can result in the creation of a new medium.” “It’s not just eye candy,” adds POST editorial director Xerxes Cook. “It’s finger candy.” Here, Cook talks to Style.com about media’s next wave.
What is POST?
We define it as an art and fashion magazine. Fashion, film, art, architecture, photography; not just of today but for tomorrow. All for $1.99 an issue on iTunes. Really, though, POST is not a thing, it’s an idea. It’s the world’s first independently published magazine for the iPad. It’s born of the iPad, which means it doesn’t have a print sibling to imitate or be intimidated by. It’s very self-reflective of the new medium. And it’s very much an experiment.
The first issue is called POST-Matter. What should people expect?
The name comes from the fact that we’re considering this shift from the material to the virtual; “post-matter.” There are anomalies with that—the iPad itself is a physical object. You have to tap-tap it. But there’s a whole world inside that screen, and our aim is to use this new medium to its full capability. There are 16 features, and we want you to figure out what’s interactive as you go through them, and for the interactive elements to tell those stories in ways you never could in print.
For instance, we have a piece on the video artist Semâ Bekirovic, and what we can do with video art is, we don’t just talk about it, we show it. You can go into the work. Likewise, we have a video Q&A with the director Gaspar Noé, on the idea of the void, and rather than trying to summarize Enter the Void, we can show the trailer and exclusive clips from the film itself. Another video is a discussion between Miltos Manetas, who is one of the pioneers of digital art and a bona fide technophile, and Purple editor Olivier Zahm, who is a self-proclaimed Luddite. (Though of course, Olivier has embraced the Web now, in his own way, creating an almost Warholian persona for himself online, hasn’t he?) We sent them to Istanbul and there’s a two-part film with them discussing the downfall of capitalism through social networking.
With the video features, we’ve worked really hard to re-create the freedom you have with print to flip around. We’ve laid out those features so you don’t need to sit and watch 30 minutes of video; you can skip forward and find the parts of the conversation that most interest you. Like a print magazine, we capture time for the reader. Or browser. Or, whatever.
Obviously, POST isn’t coming out in an environment where the only norm is print; there’s the Web, too, and its minute-by-minute drumbeat of news. Meanwhile, you’re only publishing POST four times a year. Do you not feel a pressure to be more timely?
The way things work now, with the Web, things become yesterday’s news much faster than they ever did. Meanwhile, one of the things we’ve had to adjust to, working on POST, is the fact that we’re not just editors, we’re TV programmers, we’re video game developers…We’re creating each feature from scratch, really. That’s time-consuming, so we’re not into the bang-bang-bang of new info every day, like a blog. Beyond which, we like the idea of using POST to preserve culture a bit more. Reflect on it. One of the recurring features we’re introducing with this issue is “Currents,” a digest of events from around the world that we find interesting. And, again, with this new medium we don’t need to preview something, or review it, because we can show it. So it’s not “news,” really, it’s a window into current culture.
Most media outlets are locked into a pretty passive relationship with the cultural calendar—like, if a movie is coming out in X month, then the stories about it cluster just ahead of the release date. There’s a whole industry of promotion around that. But do you feel as though, by being able to show, rather than merely report on, you have more of an ability to set your own calendar of what’s interesting, when?
Well, part of the calendar issue you raise is down to, just, yeah, we publish four times a year. But with that Gaspar Noé interview, for example—I mean, Enter the Void came out a few months ago, there are lots of people out there who have seen it, they’ve digested it, and now they’re probably more interested in reading about it or seeing Gaspar Noé speak about it. And the whole interview was conducted with that expectation. That doesn’t work too well with the film’s promotional schedule, I guess, but it works really well for someone who cares about that movie.
What opportunities does the iPad give you with regard to fashion?
Usually when you see fashion film, it’s either behind the scenes, or it’s like a music video. Whereas what we’ve done is non-narrative moving image in super slow-motion, with the slo-mo creating a sense of digressing to a pure elemental sense of what’s in frame. And the titles of each fashion film echo that sense of there being a world contained within this millimeter-thin screen. There are a few editorials, like one with Ashley Smith, Panopticon, where she morphs slowly from one look to another. We’ve also set up a recurring feature that’s a product page, laid out like a periodic table of the elements, where you can see objects in 360 degrees and spin them around. The idea is, eventually it will be partnered up with different shop for each issue.
Do you foresee iPad magazines like POST changing the nature of print, or Web?
I don’t see the iPad killing off print magazines, but it will change them, certainly. And we do see the iPad not so much as the next step in the evolution of the computer, but as the new evolution of the magazine.
You come from the world of print—you write for magazines like L’Uomo Vogue and AnOther, and you used to be the editor of TANK. Do you find that some of your collaborators are more able than others to make the same transition to thinking in terms of interactivity and moving image?
We’re mainly interested in working with people who are really engaged by the new technology and want to explore its potential. Which mostly means we’re choosing to collaborate with a new generation of digital creators. Someone like Sølve Sundsbø, who shot our first cover. He’s been a digital pioneer.
So you don’t feel any pressure to drag blue-chip fashion personalities over the digital divide?
We’re just not in the position of a traditional magazine, where you’re looking at—who are the big-name photographers who can shoot huge celebrities for us, so we can sell lots of issues? Our business model doesn’t work that way. Honestly, our most important collaborator is probably Apple. They’re sort of our printers, or our distributors certainly. They have to approve everything. It’s like they’re cleaning up the Internet. Apple-world, it’s a bit like Singapore—clean, ultra-modern, no sleaze or drugs. We’ll see how long that lasts.
How do you see POST evolving?
I think we’re all expecting that, for instance, the interactive video format we’ve developed will become standard. People will imitate that, so we’ll have to keep pushing. But that’s good—like Brian Eno said, what keeps the world interesting is continuing to manipulate it. Our only real limitation is memory load. We’ve already had to innovate a lot of new rules, like the copyright rules regarding video art. I mean, how does that work? Are we now a gallery as well as a magazine? Even something as seemingly simple as booking a model, that needs to be negotiated. This whole thing is an exercise in starting fresh. I don’t think of this as issue number one so much as issue zero. Starting new.