Contemporary culture and the modern world is dictated by the digital image. As we continue to consume more and more of it through the illuminated rectangles that surround us, many creative mediums are experiencing rapid change. Having witnessed the transformation to her chosen medium over the last ten years, photographer Tereza Mundilová, along with four fellow Berliners and friends, decided to create XZY magazine as a space to reflect on and examine “the electronic image in the era of post-photography.”
In its debut issue, XZY explores the “visual alchemies of the phenomenon ‘fake’, with artists from all over the planet.” As a topic, the notion of “fake” played a very important role in 2017 across culture, politics, media, art and fashion. Back in November, the Collins English Dictionary named one of Donald Trump’s many neologisms “fake news” as its word of the year making it an appropriate start point for editor-in-chief and founder Tereza, alongside co-editor Alexander W. Schindler and their designers Elias Hanzer, Louise Borinski and Lucas Liccini.
In order to facilitate diverse and wide-ranging responses, XZY set no further limitations except that each contributors’ work should respond to the theme of the issue. For photographer Johannes Heinke this resulted in his series Case Studies On Eventuality, depicting various simulations and simulators. From airport towers operated by institutions such as Deutsche Bahn and the German Aerospace Centre to high-G-force centrifuges, the images are clinical and almost utopian in their depiction of machinery.
“Concerned with natural survival instincts, Heinke presents synthetic spaces in which humans virtually reproduce reality to anticipate potentially fatal scenarios,” Tereza explains. Though realistic and quasi-scientific in their depiction, the photos present subjects located midway between reality and “the virtual”.
The topic of virtually, naturally occurred in the work of many other contributors. Elsa Kostic chose to explore the “borders of self-staging and representation” with a series of portraits taken in the Brazilian Favelas of people she met via social media in Brazilian Dream. Artist duo, Lukas Mayer and Joanna Huguenin on the other hand, utilised Facebook’s invention of Spaces where users can interact and meet others in avatar form as a means of considering second and virtual lives in Personal Spaces.
Tereza tells It’s Nice That how “with XZY we want to rethink conventional structures and put them together anew.” While literally doing this in the magazine’s name, this is also mirrored in its binding. As a series of loose sheets, every reader can physically perform the function of XZY by creating their own order and reshuffling as they see fit. The font is also specially customised to change with each topic – resembling Wingdings but more legible, the publication’s design team created three versions of every letter in the alphabet reworking logos from around the world.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.