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The Immortal Gutenberg

For years now, pseudo-futurist designers have equated the emergence and explosive adoption rate of the web as a communication tool with the death of printed media, ignoring the irony that such a proclamation is very short-sighted. While I’m of the opinion that print’s centuries-old legacy speaks for itself, skeptics may need periodic reminders of print’s continued relevance and untapped potential. Enter Is Not Magazine. In its editors’ own words:

Is Not Magazine is a magazine in the form of a 1.5m x 2m bill poster … It’s a design challenge and a reading experiment; a paper saving device; a bastion of editorial complexity and a grey area for the discerning communal reader. It enriches public space and brings reading to life. Approach it from any angle; bend down curiously; lean in for a closer look; embark on a treasure hunt to find a story that ends in another location.

While the concept of graphic-design-as-art-object has enjoyed much attention in the last couple of decades, it has been largely relegated to the promotional and packaging forms of the entertainment industry, and has remained mostly commercial in spite of itself. The idea has been brought into the editorial realm in the past (most notably with the Raygun art direction of David Carson), but never in quite this way. Having an entire publication on a wall in a public space gives us a whole new way to experience the editorial form, and to experience each other.

The web brings us together, but it also separates us. I spend more time talking online to friends on other continents than I do talking in person to some friends that are blocks away. Is Not Magazine acknowledges the value of—and gives us a new opportunity for—human interaction and communication within a physical space. Take that, digital purists!