Designer Optigram is set to publish the second volume of his future-orientated arts magazine
London based designer Manuel Sepulveda will be publishing the second volume of After Us magazine this September. Sepulveda operates under the alias Optigram, works for labels such as Hyperdub, Planet Mu and Ninja Tune, and hosts Nitetrax on NTS radio.
Featuring future-orientated essays, pictorials, interviews and short fictions about art and developments in technology, After Us Volume Two follows a year after the first issue landed at Bleep.com and London's ICA and Tate Modern bookshops.
Manuel discusses his reasoning behind the magazine via email. “It”s the first time I’ve produced any kind of print publication, but I’m finding a lot of similarities between this and the record label I used to run in terms of working with contributors and getting everything together,” he explains, referring to the Citinite label that recently closed for business following a decade of releases. “It definitely takes up more time though!”
He continues, “The main purpose is to provide writers and artists with a platform to express ideas, at intersections between art, science and politics, that they may not have found an outlet for otherwise. It’s important that the articles don’t feel too academic, or at the other end too journalistic or news-led – I’d like to strike a balance between being approachable but also pushing the reader a little.”
Asked about his statement in the first volume of After Us that contemporary art lacks political engagement, Manuel responds: “I feel most art is geared more towards being photographable and sharable, or being an experience to stimulate the senses, rather than really challenging the viewer to think. There are of course plenty of exceptions – I’ve seen two great pieces just this week – but they feel in the minority to me. I can appreciate that some artists might feel that political themes have already been explored to death by previous generations, but there is definitely scope for artists to communicate deeper concepts as new technologies continue to change our cultures.
“The other problem is that even if a work does have political themes, once it’s posted on Instagram or Tumblr it’s inevitably stripped of all meaning and just becomes an exercise in aesthetics,” he continues. “Many websites are finding ways of giving artists more control of how their work is shown. Certainly once After Us is more established I’d like to be able to provide an online space for this, rather than just sitting here complaining.”
After Us takes its name from a Tumblr site which the designer started around 2014 as a means of gathering articles and images that inspired him. “Topics included robotics, virtual reality, dystopian fiction, hacking, identity, transhumanism, etc,” Manuel recalls. “It got a good response from friends and it occurred to me, rather than collating existing material, why not commission new work and produce a physical magazine that tackled these ideas. It also felt like an opportunity to do something in a similar vein to Omni magazine, which had been a favourite of mine when I was growing up.”
Volume two will include articles such as Jennifer Boyd’s “A Taxonomy Of Explosions”, an interview with Patrik Schumacher, director of Zaha Hadid Architects, and Laurel Halo and Mari Matsutoya on their audio-visual project Still Be Here. Amy Ireland has also contibuted some fiction set on a mining colony in the Kuiper Belt. Illustrations are provided by Lee Gamble collaborator Dave Gaskarth, among others.
It'll cost £5 and is available via Bleep. Manuel Sepulveda chose Prince & The Revolution Around The World In A Day for The Inner Sleeve in The Wire 390 . Subscribers can read that feature via Exact Editions.