Not all fashion magazines are created equal. Take Cactus. The Italian team commissions work by the freshest, most left-field image-makers and bundles it into a compendium of brick-like heft. Its fifth issue is dedicated to the interface between bodies and technology, challenging photographers, designers and stylists to ask questions about the potential of human-machine communication. What kind of images, for example, would be produced by a technologically simulated consciousness? And how will gender evolve in the realm of AI?
“_Cactus_ deals with visual culture by making fun of it with a stimulating and provocative attitude,” says Cactus editor-in-chief Luca Smorgon. “_Cactus’_ strength stands on the imagery, which is enhanced by the large format of the magazine. We feature original images only and there’s no room for superfluous text.” As the magazine has evolved over five issues its stories have developed from a “moodboard of images” to much lengthier visual explorations. The latest issue, for example, includes a 30-page fashion editorial by Luca Smorgon and photography duo Scandebergs, who have explored optimised bodies – from patches to prosthetics to surgery – all with on-point garms. “Bodies become objects, objects turn into bodies,” says Luca. “The environment around gets clinical, constructed, untouchable – an excess of the optimising force that controls the body.”
Other out-there projects captured in the mag (and there are many) include Pakui Hardware’s research into the intricate choreography of machines that have replaced human-led production lines and the work of bio-art pioneer Suzanne Anker, who uses Petri dishes to create 3D-printed landscapes that simulate satellite data. Ever ones to challenge the expected, the cover is neither fashion focused nor high-tech. Instead it features a bulbous head by Dutch artist Rosa Verloop, formed by padding a pair of tights with stuffing. The choice epitomises how Cactus does things – it’s off-the-wall, weirdly sexy and as far from the average fashion magazine as you can imagine.
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