I was reading an interesting article at broken pencil, called Zines Are Dead: the Six Deadly Sins That Killed Zinery, by Chris Yorke. While the article summarized and divided the great cultural change of the late-nineties into six easy-to-read words, each a harbinger of death for zine culture, I think the death of zines can either be summarized in one simple word (“Internet”), or it is so emblematic of an entire social landscape that it is impossible to define.
Whether works of art or frenzied outlets, zines came to encapsulate the look and feel of the postmodern age. They are full of contradictions: intensely individual, yet photocopied into oblivion; falling on any subject or in any setting, but always immediately identified as subcultural; each one new, original, unique, but always appearing as if composed of varying bits of pop culture dissected unapologetically with a hacksaw (hey, wait, that’s the name of MY zine!). They are timeless and timely, meaningless pastiche and meaningful art.
As personal and handmade as they are, zines have always relied on technology, namely the magic of the photocopier. Was their decline and death in the (as Yorke puts it) late nineties, really a death or simply an attachment to another technology? From Xerox to the Interwebs. Is it that the creative/fanboy/activist/artistic/fangirl/political/underground outlets zines provided has simply been replaced by online outlets, such as this blog? If so, is the ordinary zinester satisfied? To me, there’s still a feeling that something’s missing.
I didn’t really understand until I made What I Did On Saturday Afternoon, as I cut and glued and drew and wrote and compiled. Not only did I feel like I was tapping into an unmined source of creative potential, but I felt a thrill in the creation I don’t think I’ve felt since sometime in high school. I felt connected to my work. I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone else, but the feeling of alienation was lessened. There was something in each square centimetre of that photocopied paper that I recognized as my own, that I connected with, that made it feel not only just something I’d written or created, but something that was a part of me. I created that thing in an afternoon, and it felt more like me than the book I spent years writing and months laying out and weeks waiting to arrive in the mail from the publisher.
I’m not sure how coherant the whole thing is, but it makes me think of photographs. This transition to digital imagery, while convenient as hell, still doesn’t make the photographs seem real. Even when they’re printed off the computer, they still seem fake. I need a hand-developed old-fashioned photograph to make it seem like a valid memory. Everything else feels false somehow. Perhaps I am overstating that, but I think there is some truth to it.