SF State professor Gwen Allen on the enduring value of the printed word

The San Francisco State University assistant professor is the author of “Artists’ Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art,” which was published by MIT Press.

What do you think is unique about tangible, printed articles rather than digital media? The tactility of print is different from that of digital media, and this profoundly shapes its function as a medium of communication. The physicality of print affects not only the way in which individual readers interact with a given text or image, but also the way in which texts are distributed and circulated in public.

Do you think artist magazines have a future in this digital age? Paradoxically, I think artists’ magazines have even more of a future now. As print threatens to become outmoded, I think we are more able to see what is special about it, and there are new opportunities for its forms to be expanded outside of commercial contexts.

Do you have any commentary on today’s zine culture? Self-publishing had a historically specific meaning in the art world of the 1960s and 1970s, but it is by no means limited to artists.

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