Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What on earth is a ZINE?

What on earth is a ZINE?

By Adam Obscene from the Sunshine Coast Zine Institute
One of the most interesting cultural phenomenon of the past three decades has been the proliferation of zines (pronounced ZEEN), self-published periodicals with small press runs, often photocopied, frequently irreverent, and usually appealing to audiences with highly specialized interests. With an estimated 120,000 in existence, zines can no longer be regarded as a strictly underground culture phenomenon, but must be accepted as a significant, if not permanent, part of the cultural landscape.
Zine publishers produce works comprising a wide variety of subjects, ranging from punk rock music to bowling, from the collection of Pez dispensers to the daily occurrences of the zine publisher's personal life. Despite their disparity of subject matter, the great majority of zines share many common characteristics—such as their emphasis on autonomy and independence, and their often confrontational relationship with mainstream culture and communication media—and the tremendous growth of zines the zine revolution is was and is not a  commercial venture: few zine publishers expect to make a monetary profit from their work, and yet they invest considerable amounts of money and time publishing their zines.
The unofficial historic and totally incomplete timeline of the zine

Underground Press: One could argue that in their loosest form zines exist since people began to write, copy and self-publish. Zines stand in this long tradition of self-publication. Historically, they could even be traced back to 1517 when Martin Luther published his "zine", the "Ninety-five Theses," a time when Johannes Gutenberg had just invented the printing press and self-publication began to spread. Self-publication has always been a political medium and frequently used to express resistance, for example during the French Revolution.

Art, Artists' Books, and Mail Art: Self-publishing has been a method closely associated with several art movements in the 20th century. In journals, magazines, leaflets, and mail-art, Dadaist, Surrealist, Fluxus and Situationist artists employed techniques such as collages, bricolages, and detournment of magazine images and had a strong influence on zine editors later on. Since the 1990s, many young artists use zines to create their own creative spaces, distribution networks and audiences independent of the established gallery and exhibit system.

Science Fiction Fanzines (1930-1960). As a distinct form, zines originated in the 1930's in the United States when fans of science fiction began to publish and trade their own stories. The term "fanzine" became recognized as the abbreviation of "fan magazine" and later on was shortened to "zine."

Punk Zines: In the 1970s, when punk rock music emerged, the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) ethos found a fertile ground in zines. This ethos combined with the increasing accessibility of photocopy technology fueled an explosion of zines.

(Riot) Grrrl Zines: When in 1991 the riot grrrl movement emerged out of the alternative and punk music scene in the United States, thousands of young women began to produce personal and political zines with explicitly feminist themes. Bikini Kill called in their manifesto upon young women to form bands, to mutually learn and teach instruments and to publish zines. Nowadays, some women ("grrrls") who grew out of the riot grrrl movement have chosen to reclaim the title and call themselves "ladies." Their politics remain devoted to assertive feminism and activism.

E-Zines: During the 1990s the zine network expanded enormously into the realm of e-zines. In addition to the typical objectives, these online zines serve often as resource and network sites. But although the Internet makes e-zines available worldwide and allows geographically isolated people to correspond,
NOW: traditional hard copy or analog zines are making resurgence, as self-publishers revert to the physical tactile format much in the vein of the zines of the past, placing importance on autonomy and independence particularly from that of the ever expanding online mainstreaming of the virtual world.
So really the long and short of it is, despite misgivings at shaping a singular definition of what zines are, I usually tell people that ask me that zines are homemade magazines, and that they are self-published, often on a copy machine. I tell them that these projects are usually labours of love created on a small scale and distributed in unusual ways. I try to stress that zines can be anything that their creator wants them to be and that usually they are made to reflect what the author sees as a void in their current media consumption or to honour themselves and their own views and daily lives as important expressions. So if this sort of self-publishing shindig sounds like your bag, why not give it a crack, it’s all about doing it for yourself.
For more info about the Sunshine Coast Zine Institute go to http://zineinstitute.blogspot.com.au/ http://facebook.com/Zineinstitute or emailzineinstitute@gmail.com