Mould Map 7 – Earth Pantropy, published by Landfill Editions, takes the opposite approach to the last edition – which collected the work of 76 practitioners in an exhibition – and presents 30 new digital commissions in an online anthology. Edited by Hugh Frost and Leon Sadler, Mould Map 7 explores the theme of pantropy, “a hypothetical process… [of] humans being modified to thrive in the existing environment”: “Through the new works, the idea of pantropy is explored in off-world settings as well as contemporary reality in adapting the self (physically and mentally) to the spheres of technology, work, food and romance”, Hugh tells It’s Nice That.
Each edition of Mould Map has challenged the form of the book, comics, visual storytelling and the nature of publishing; this edition is no different. “There are instances of web comics being collected together, but there aren’t many collections of work with a consistent editorial direction that holds them together, which is what Mould Map has tried to do from the start” says Hugh. “There’s more we want to explore, like combining computationally generated comics and imagery (developed by artists like John Pound and more recently by Jeffrey Alan Scudder) with web vector graphics (Scalable Vector Graphics), and a sort of choose-your-own-adventure structure that might end up something like the infinite canvas Scott McCloud imagined in Reinventing Comics in 2000.” And beyond the realm of comics, Mould Map 7 was inspired by digital editorial projects “like The Avery Review, A Message from Earth and the digital reading research by Hanna Bergman.
On the information page for Mould Map 7, alongside the details of the nature of the project is an outline of the funding for the edition: “By including the finances in the notes, we’re just looking to contribute to a culture of transparency in the arts economy about fees and budgets”, says Hugh. Mould Map 7 was funded by the Arts Council: “Once that was in place we didn’t want to set a strict length for the works and thought that if we gave a flat fee to each artist they’d be able to figure out how much time they were personally able to spend on the project for £420.”
Designing, developing and finally publishing Mould Map 7 involved a lengthy learning process: “I did the 8-week introductory online course with SuperHi, only it took me about a year to finish, because our baby boy came along at the same time, too” Hugh says. “Learning new basics like viewport width measurements, which I didn’t know about when first trying and failing to learn in 2007, opened up new possibilities.” The format of the site is very much based on that function, “meaning that when the site is viewed on a desktop device 3 frames are displayed, on a landscape 4:3 tablet 2 frames are displayed and on a phone in portrait 1 frame is shown”. In theory, this means that each page, or frame, should display in full screen on any device – unlike a lot of web comics, and other creative work, which remains in a vertical phone screen format across all devices, allowing the format to dictate the form of the work. “As well as there being no wasted screen space, it allows for different reading experiences of the same material – different pacing, reveals and juxtapositions”.
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