Writing about web page http://www.polaritymag.co.uk
Welcome through the velveteen arches of this sanatorium under the sign of a broken hourglass, hosted by the editors of Polarity Magazine UK, George Ttoouli (Main Ed. & Prose), Neeral Bhatt (Art Ed.) and James Brookes (Poetry Ed.). Polarity is the magazine of the New Surreal; we’ve set out to fill a hole in the soul of today’s culture-kestrels. That sounds catchier than it means.
We’re attempting to synthesise the best parts of magazines like Georges Bataille’s Documentes, and contemporary mags like BOMB, The Believer and McSweeneys. Why? Because in the UK there isn’t anything quite as beautifully produced, contrary, untimely and entertaining out there. Each issue is themed around two falsely polarised ideas so as to create a weird artefact of ideas, creative work, interviews, essays and archival material. And, as a bonus, each issue comes with a free supplement, an artefact+ that props up the issue.
The first issue, Death vs. Taxes, has work by artists and writers new and established, as well as a free pamphlet proposing a system of taxation on thought, in order to help pull Britain out of recession. Really it’s an excuse to let all the weirdest parts of our ids out into the world, a call to arms to people like us, the start of some kind of critical mass. The feedback’s been good from readers so far, but don’t take my word for it – go take a look yourself.
This is both a social experiment – using the internet to facilitate a small press project – and an aesthetic crusade. The internet levels the playing field of traditional ideas of authority (hence, as Deleuze and Guattari pointed out a couple of decades ago, it’s a form of rhizome). You could merrily be reading a review of, say, Noam Chomsky, thinking it's all high quality for appearing in an established broadsheet; but it's followed by 40 extremely lucid reader comments that tear the ideas and standpoint apart, point out its biases. And so you pop up indie opinions, or other established writers who blog about the same subjects. Who do you listen to, trust?
There’s room on the internet to establish a base and grow, in the way most micro-businesses grow, slowly, patiently, according to limited resources. Polarity's aim, then, is to use the internet to create something that will save us from the boredom of the same-old-names cycled and recycled around mainstream magazines who aren't the strongholds of authority and opinion that they once were. (So, an angelic mission as well as a social experiment, even if the angels have huge, flaming swords and no interest in traditional ideas of angels).
Small scale ventures can survive, with a little ingenuity and a lot of quality, time and energy, by harnessing the internet in ways that cost little money. We’ve a small band of supporters – market research and content from Michael Wilson, Alexandra Szydlowska and an excellent designer, James Harringman – but at the moment we’re short on time and energy. The quality is out there, artists creating work that is immediately arresting, rewards revisits, and sits within the pages of a magazine you won’t want to throw away at the end of the year to clear space for whatever disposable, mainstream airport literature you've picked up, that will end up pulped into the foundations of a runway, or stretch of motorway.
We’re still in a kind of beta phase, testing out the design, the aesthetics, our ability to promote online, our ability to scare ourselves and others. We’ve a small business brain attached, from prior experience in small press publishing, and we’re learning new technologies as we go along. The real strength is our passion for Polarity, the desire to make it work, slowly. As long as there’s new content coming in, we can find the best ways to get the work out there, reach people, build a community, step by baby step.
Gists & Piths – co-edited by George Ttoouli & Simon Turner
Iguanodon Studies – Neeral Bhatt’s critical art blog
James Brookes' online hovel
Some extracts from the Critical Dictionary / Encyclopaedia Acephalica