October 14, 2007KR BlogUncategorized

Sunday Funnies–Ubuweb Pt.3

There is something to this “having it in my hands” thing. Yes, the world wide web is fantastic, but when you’re holding something in your hands, it does somehow seem more valuable. It’s like birthday presents: one in the hand is better than two in the bush. Or, in my case, I’m excited about my new manual typewriter coming from Mr. Typewriter for my birthday today, but it was very cool to wake up this morning and have an actual present to open. Which brings me to boxes, and back to Ubuweb. This month I’ve been enjoying the delights of the Aspen Magazine: Multimedia Magazine in a Box.

Aspen Magazine was started by Phyllis Johnson in 1965, and I have been searching for an issue to hold in my hands. Until then, Ubuweb’s phenomenal, free, online storehouse is my best friend. I am a jazz freak, so Issue No. 1 was the place to start for me. Get this– side B of the magazine’s CD boasts Bill Evans, and Side A has the “Aspen Jazz Party” with Clancy Hayes and Lou Stein! Write to that! It’s no wonder LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka said “If you can hear, this music will make you think of a lot of weird and wonderful things. You might even become one of them.”

Johnson wanted each issue of Aspen to be a “time capsule” showcasing a specific time period and point of view. Every issue boasted a different designer and editor, and feature print work, audio, and visual material (sometimes in the form of photos or even Super-8 film reels). Issue 3 moved the magazine into Pop Art with the likes of Andy Warhol and Thomas Powers, and featured phonograph recordings. The Fluxus Issue promises to be a future favorite of mine as well, along with the Psychedelic Issue and its poem by Lionel Ziprin. I admit I haven’t had a chance to read all of the issues yet; I’m just about to begin with The Minimalism Issue which boasts an essay by Susan Sontag, but am looking forward to the last issue, No. 10; it focuses on Asia, and includes a wonderful six-fold screen depicting scenes of Noh and Kyogen plays.

Aspen Magazine was, in its brief time, an antidote to the perfect-bound, text-filled journal. Making objects into discourse and product is an exciting undertaking and reminds me of a few other journals out there who have combined CD’s with postcards and even shaving kits! Who knows? As technology catches up, maybe we’ll all be carrying around our little palm-sized whiz-bang computers and simultaneously listening to music, watching visual poems, and reading novels–probably while we’re driving!