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Online Panel: Experimental publishing and alternative networked cultures

This online event is free and open to all. Please register your interest to receive a personal invitation: https://bit.ly/3sVPgVC


The emergence of experimental post-digital publishing over the past decade has opened up new modes and methods of design practice that have allowed for extended relationships between social and media environments. This panel discussion draws on historical as well as contemporary references to examine such approaches through a range of perspectives, spanning the fields of art, graphic design, digital media and software development. The projects and practices discussed in the presentations and subsequent Q&A will consider the shift away from fixed to more fluid forms of publication and acts of publishing that are contingent upon networked, interactive and hybrid (digital/analog) contexts. Presentations will examine the links between conceptual and performance art practices from the 1960s, which fed into critical debates in art and design discourse – vis-a-vis the role of the active audience/reader/user – emerging in the 1980s and ‘90s with the broader availability of desktop computing and networked communications. Alongside these developments, a thriving landscape of grassroots publishing and alternative networked social relations, with roots in 1960s counterculture, continues to disrupt and re-examine conventions of authorship, copyright, design, dissemination and reception. Looking at practices, processes and projects that embrace and reflect back on a variety of strategies including collaboration, participation and anonymity, as well as forms that can be permanent or transient, provisional and iterative, in nature, this event proposes the need for new, cross-disciplinary vocabularies to enter traditional discourses relating to publishing as practice.


Convened by Ruth Blacksell and Lozana Rossenova with contributions from Karen Di Franco, Aymeric Mansoux, Marcell Mars, Tomislav Medak.

Dr Ruth Blacksell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. She leads the Book Design Pathway for the Department’s MA in Communication Design. Her PhD (2013) at the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture was supported by a concordat scholarship with the British Library and she recently established a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership between the University of Reading and Tate Library. Much of her research to date has been concerned with typographic engagements and acts of publishing in post-1960s art and the emergence of a contemporary inter-disciplinary territory which, following this historical and theoretical lineage, utilises and exploits the vocabularies and contexts of both art and editorial design.

Dr Karen Di Franco is a curator and writer working within the contexts of archives and publishing, with a focus on practices that emerge between text and performance, the page and the body. Her PhD, (2015-20) titled Embodied Iteration: Materialising the Language of Writing and Performance in Women Artists’ Publishing, 1968–1979, was supported by the AHRC/University of Reading and based at the library and archive at Tate. Frequently concerned with an inter-generational dialogue with these forms, Di Franco has curated exhibitions that incorporate materials that problematise categorisations of artwork, documentation and ephemera.

Aymeric Mansoux is an artist and media researcher, with a background in economics, fine art, graphic design, and computer programming. He was a founding member of server based collective GOTO10. Recent collaborations include: The SKOR Codex, an archive about the impossibility of archiving, and LURK, a server infrastructure for discussions around net/computational art, culture, and politics. Mansoux received his PhD from the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University of London for his investigation of the techno-legal forms of social organisation within free and open source based cultural practices. He currently runs the Experimental Publishing MA course (XPUB) at the Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam.

Marcell Mars is a researcher, programmer, and artist working in the fields of internet regulation, intellectual property and open source software. He is one of the founders of Multimedia Institute/MAMA (Croatia). His research Ruling Class Studies, started at the Jan van Eyck Academy (2011), examines state-of-the-art digital innovation, adaptation, and intelligence created by corporations such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and eBay. In 2012, Mars initiated Memory of the World to develop socio-technical infrastructure and invigorate the historical argument for universal access to knowledge. Mars is also a co-initiator of the Pirate Care project.

Tomislav Medak is a PhD researcher at Coventry University’s Centre for Postdigital Cultures. His research interests are in technology, capitalist development and post-capitalist transition, with a particular focus on the planetary ecological crisis, techno-science and intellectual property. Medak is also a part of the theory and publishing team of Multimedia Institute/MAMA (Croatia), amateur librarian for Memory of the World, a co-initiator of the Pirate Care project.

Lozana Rossenova is a digital designer and researcher. She holds an MA from the Department for Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, where she has been a Sessional Lecturer in hybrid and digital publication design since 2016. Rossenova has recently completed her PhD at the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image (London South Bank University) in collaboration with Rhizome, a leading international born-digital art organisation. Her research focuses on open-source and community-driven approaches to digital infrastructures, which organise, store and make knowledge, and different ways of knowing, accessible.


Credits: The image background is based on a capture from a 1988 Macintosh operating system booting up The Electronic Whole Earth Catalog, presented via software emulation in the Internet Archive.



29th April 2021
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm