RIP Libre Graphics magazine

On March 9th Libre Graphics magazine announced that after six years it would stop publishing new issues. Current and past issues are still available while stocks last.


Since 2012 I wrote for Libre Graphics magazine as a regular columnist. Prior to this my illustration, What Revolution? was featured in issue 1.2.

What Revolution? in Libre Graphics Magazine

The idea for starting a publication about graphic design that is made with and about open source tools is an idea shared by many, with various people following through on the idea. In the early 2000s there was Code : Free magazine, which never saw a printed version but existed for four issues.

Publications specific to a particular software also exist. BlenderArt has seen issues published since 2005 that focus on Blender. Since 2012 GIMP Magazine has existed to talk just about GIMP. The aforementioned publications offer only pdf versions and only focus on their one topic. To me, what differentiated Lire Graphics Magazine from the others is that it covered not just the practical side of producing art but also the concepts and politics surround it. Plus, it had a focus on print, which has long been an apparent “show stopper” for those wanting to switch to open source software.


Open source tools have long been criticised for their apparent lack of support for printing processes. “When will GIMP get CMYK?” is an often asked question and is a reason many steer clear of using these and other tools. What I learned from witnessing the production Libre Graphics magazine is that it is easily possible to produce a publication using open source tools and that the results have no differences in quality to those published, for example, using Adobe InDesign or other proprietary tools.

Libre Graphics Magazine 2.1

Although it is ceasing to exist the spirit of it continues in other ways. You can still find out what is happening in the world of libre graphics via the Libre Graphics World blog and the Graphics Planet feed. Conferences such as Libre Graphics Meeting have been going strong for over 10 years. Outside of this, just engaging with the community in some way is really easy. Just using the software, adopting its processes and talking about it publicly is more than enough!

Libre Graphics magazine issue 2.4, Capture

The latest issue of Libre Graphics magazine (and the final issue in volume two) is now out and available for reading and purchasing.


This issue looks at Capture, the act of encompassing, emulating and encapsulating difficult things, subtle qualities. Through a set of articles we explore capture mechanisms, memory, archiving and preservation of volatile digital information, physicality and aesthetization of data.

On page 12 you’ll find an article from me about surveillance culture.

Evasive Maneuvers


We are obsessed with capture. On an aesthetic level we have been attempting to capture aesthetic qualities of things for thousands of years through drawing, painting and, relatively recently, photography. Advances in digital technology now allow to capture more than just aesthetic qualities of a thing. Now we can measure things, analyse them, and make decisions based on statistics and quantifiable data as opposed to qualitative personal opinions. Through this we have gained an incredible insight into the world around us, and can study everything from weather patterns, genetics of species and so much more. This gigantic planet and beyond now seems so much more comprehensible, now that we can understand it in terms of numbers and patterns.

Developments in digital technology have turned the focus increasingly onto the individuals. We want to understand not just how an environment evolves, but also the people that move through it. We want to know how they interact with it, why they do so, what their intent might be, what they might do next, what their emotions are and study little incidental quirks that could reveal more than a person intended. Like weather and climate data before it, the hope is that by collecting enough data about individuals we can begin to understand them more, and make predictions about them.

If you’ve been following my work this year you’ll see that surveillance culture has been a big part of it. I curated an exhibition at Vivid Projects called Stealth in June and the recent work I’ve done with Lucy Hutchinson echoes the works of artists like Adam Harvey and looks at ways to work with and against face detection software. I feel talking about this is very important, especially as we’re being increasingly watched by our devices and our Governments.

Read the whole piece in Libre Graphics magazine, which you can read or purchase from the website.

The Transnational Glitch

Below is my article for Volume 2, Issue 1 of Libre Graphics magazine. You can still buy the issue or download it from their website.

American English is the common language of computing and the internet. That’s quite unfortunate. There are indeed many talented non-English speakers building our websites and shaping our digital future. That potential aside, one only has to look at the programming languages themselves and even small things like web addresses to see a bias towards English. Functions in popular programming languages are derived from English and, while websites that are not in English exist, their URLs are always in English, with only the domain extension (.fr, .pt, .es, .cn, etc.) available to give the website a sense of cultural identity.


The English-language bias also extends itself to digital art. Creative programming languages like Pure Data and Processing still use English as their common language and present barriers to those who want to take part. Is an English-only ecosystem really the way forward?

One area of digital art that I see transcending these barriers is glitch art. Glitch art is the aesthetisation of digital or analogue errors, such as artifacts and other “bugs”, by either corrupting digital code and data or by physically manipulating electronic devices. Glitching through physical manipulation of electronics has been popularized by the practice of circuit bending. If this sounds too vague, think of a television screen beginning to corrupt or a camera taking strange-looking pictures. Glitch artists try to capture and reproduce these types of ephemeral moments and display them as art.


The history of glitch art is very hard to trace. Glitch music (Aphex Twin, Autechre) has been around since the 1990s and with it, chaotic and noisy visuals like those of Gantz Graf by Autechre and Szamar Madar by Venetian Snares. In popular culture it has even broken out of the electronic music scene and can be seen everywhere from music videos by Kanye West, Xiu Xiu and Everything Everything to advertisements for MTV and The Biggest Loser. One only has to look at the “glitch art” tag on Tumblr or Flickr to see that it is an art form that has sparked the imaginations of people the world over.


Beyond the internet, digital arts and new media festivals serve as physical meeting places for those interested in digital art forms. Glitch art has found an audience at these festivals. Festival de Arte Digital in Brazil, AND (Abandon Normal Devices) in the UK and Transmediale in Germany are only a selection of venues which, at one time or another, have had sections devoted to glitch art. However, until 2002, there hadn’t been a festival dedicated solely to glitch art.


In 2002, in Oslo, Norway, the Motherboard art group was the first to hold a large-scale glitch art event. Post-Oslo, glitch-specific events laid dormant for a time, until 2010, when the GLI.TC/H conference began in Chicago. Since then, it has taken place in 2011 in Amsterdam and Birmingham, UK. I attended the 2010 festival in Chicago and the 2011 festival in Birmingham. What quickly became apparent to me from this festival was the international appeal of glitch art. While the bulk of participants physically present at the 2010 festival in Chicago and the 2011 festival in Birmingham were English speaking, the contributions of art came from an international community of creators.


The popularisation of glitch art on the internet, the increasing number of festivals featuring sections devoted to glitch art and the overwhelming response to the GLI.TC/H festivals since 2010 only highlights its international appeal and suggests that the visual language of glitch art transcends languages, cultural differences and location barriers. Glitch art needs no common language. The process of throwing a camera into the air in order to produce glitches requires no proficiency in any language — programming or spoken — or professional qualification. The shattered screens, errors on computers and broken things will always evoke the same feelings of panic, frustration, annoyance, elation or glee no matter where in the world you are.

Libre Graphics Magazine 2.1 – Localisation/Internationalization

I’m happy to announce that I’ll have a regular column in volume two of Libre Graphics magazine, starting with the first issue, Localisation/Internationalization

Libre Graphics Magazine 2.1

This February, Libre Graphics Magazine has reached a major milestone. We have published and shipped issue 2.1, the first number in our second volume. Titled “Localization/Internationalisation,” this issue explores the unique problems of non-latin type, the hyper-localisation of custom clothing patterns and international visual languages, among other topics.

Launched at FOSDEM, this issue marks the beginning of our second volume of publication, and heralds our move towards an increasingly critical slant. Exploring not just how Free/Libre Open Source Software can be used to create high quality art and design, in volume 2, we see a growing emphasis on the cultural and social issues around F/LOSS and Free Culture. With 2.1, we discuss issues of regionality. We are currently seeking submissions for 2.2, “Gendering F/LOSS,” which will revolve around gendered identity and work in F/LOSS and Free Culture.

We invite both potential readers and submittors to download, view, write, pull, branch and otherwise engage. We hope, in the coming year and with the help of a growing community, to further push the work of F/LOSS art, design and discussion.

The Transnational Glitch

My first column focuses on the international language of glitch and digital art.

Libre Graphics Magazine 2.1 - The Transnational Glitch

Here’s an excerpt:

American English is the common language of computing and the internet. That’s quite unfortunate when there are so many talented non-English speakers building our websites and shaping our digital future. That potential aside, one only has to look at the programming languages themselves and even small things like web addresses to see a bias to- wards English. Functions in popular programming languages are derived from English and, while websites that are not in English exist, their urls are always in English, with only the domain extension (.fr, .pt, .es, .cn, etc.) available to give the website a sense of cultural identity.

Libre Graphics magazine is free to download from their website or can be purchased – which I recommend – for $12 CAD plus postage.

About Libre Graphics magazine

Libre Graphics magazine (ISSN 1925-1416) is a print publication devoted to showcasing and promoting work created with Free/Libre Open Source Software. Since 2010, we have been publishing work about or including artistic practices which integrate Free, Libre and Open software, standards, culture, methods and licenses.


What Revolution? in Libre Graphics Magazine

What Revolution? in Libre Graphics Magazine
What Revolution? is featured in the Showcase section of issue 1.2 of Libre Graphics Magazine. The theme for this issues is Use Cases and Affordances:

Our software tools, in their affordances and potential use cases, define for us, to a certain extent, what we may and may not do. Those decisions are put in place by the people who design the tools. Together, as users, developers and all areas between the two extremes, we boil in a constantly reconfiguring sea of use possibilities, material and mental affordances.

You can find out more about the magazine through this brilliant presentation from FOSDEM 2011.

I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive from Canada, so for now the PDF will suffice. Go support the open source and free culture scene and get your copy!