“We came up with the idea of NXS while studying on our master’s programme at Sandberg Instituut,” recalls Monika Grūzīte, Juliette Lizotte and Florian Mecklenburg, the founders of the tall, skinny publication exploring “the self” in the digital age of technology. NXS, which stands for nexus, is true to its name with every issue building a network of contributors where each is asked to reflect and comment on a previous contribution.
Having collaborated on various projects while studying, Monika, Juliette and Florian developed a unique collective creative process, a result of their different nationalities, experiences, inspirations and mindsets, “so we decided to start working together,” they explain. Now in its third issue, NXS’ team also includes Karolien Buurman (who they also met at Sandberg) and has explored Cyber Sensuality in its first issue, Synthetic Selves in its second and, most recently, Viral Bodies. Since Karolien joined the team, NXS has also started exploring formats outside of the printed publication, like video works, events and exhibitions due to her background in curation.
With the topic of “the self” in the digital era being a common thread between all their practices, the team are able to approach the theme from different perspectives. “From one issue to the next the decision comes quite organically, depending on where the discussion ends up,” they explain. Having previously discussed Synthetic Selves, this issue’s focus on human bodies and human forms was an obvious follow-up. Kicking off with a piece by Reba Maybury, the Viral Bodies issue investigates changing concepts of gender and identity norms with further contributions from Gaika, Alan Dean Foster and Penny Rafferty (among many others).
In its format and aesthetic, NXS is extremely bold but is clearly a product of its subject matter. “With our visual langue we want to create a world of our own,” the team explain, “one that represents the community that we are building, that triggers and challenges.” With each issue, they consider the design a contribution in itself and, true to their concept, it reflects on and answers what has come before it. “In the process of making an issue, we never know where it will lead, what direction it will take so we are always open to surprises and unexpected twists,” they continue.
When it comes to actually building their network, Monika, Juliette, Florian and Karolien are incredibly proactive in sourcing contributors. “We research a lot,” they remark, “we get recommendations, we attend lectures or read pieces on similar topics. Some contributors we also know personally. It happens quite organically.” From an open and experimental process which sees contributors receiving a previous contribution and reacting to it however they see fit, the content in NXS is as unpredictable as it is varied.
Through these discussions, NXS explores the paradoxes of the digital world, from a critical standpoint but also an accepting one. Monika, Juliette, Florian and Karolien are at once detached and immersed in the subject matter, providing an expert but also a neutral point of view. “We want to celebrate that there are many perspectives and visions on the same topic and it’s important to put them together,” they say, “to take them into considerations in order to have a better understanding of ourselves and of the infrastructures and systems that surround us.”
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