Printed Web 4: Public, Private, Secret appeared alongside the Charlotte Cotton/ICP exhibition of the same name, as well as Mossless 4: Public, Private, Portrait. I wasn’t at all aware of the Printed Web project, which sounds quite interesting and I would’ve spent more time with it, but the website is an absolute pain to navigate (likely intentionally: the whole thing is one big Google Doc…), so I skipped it.
In short, the Printed Web makes print books from web material, more or less. Again: it’s an interesting project, and Printed Web 4 is an interesting document, if only because of the experience of it: it’s unwieldy, virtually unnavigable in any traditional photobook sense and similarly problematic in any newspaper sense.
This thing frustrates me…
It opens with an interesting commentary on the nature of the Internet and our participation in it, especially in the social media world. A 1998 quote from Sadie Plant’s Zeros + Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture describes the emergent digital culture in terms of fabrics, and the article ranges through Deleuze’s concept of the Fold and Gentle Whispering. It all winds up to suggest that we begin to think about our online lives and worlds, to start to tidy up our digital detritus. It’s a nice bit of theory, if much harder (physically) to read than any Deleuze I ever perused. (Sorry.)
The rest of it is images,—parts of projects, really—from Wolfgang Plöger, Lorna Mills, Molly Soda, Travess Smalley, Angela Genusa (website currently down), Eva and Franco Mattes, Anouk Kruithof, Elisabeth Tonnard, Christopher Clary, and Michael Connor (the author of the introductory essay). Each artist gets the front and back of one sheet… If you flip through like an ordinary newspaper, you see 1/2 of one work at a time and the only way to really get a good look at everything is to lay it all out flat and flip through, one big front and back at a time. You really have to want to look at it.
To be honest, the format is far more interesting to me than the content, but then I’m not much up on new media or internet culture or any of the things the photographers and artists included are working with or on, which is to say that my rating for the content should be taken with a grain of salt.
As far as the format goes, I could see putting out a photobook like this, something like Will Steacy’s Deadline, but maybe even cut and stapled to make a more book-like object, but design wise it’s painful to experience. While I’m sure that was intended, it’s a bit mean.
Overall, it’s a solid 3.3
You can pick up a copy from Spaces Corners, the ICP Bookstore, or at the exhibition (it’s on view at ICP through January 8, 2017).