Aspen Magazine’s Final Issue: The Asia Issue (1971)

Aspen: The Multimedia Magazine in a Box (10 Issues, 1965-1971)

Aspen: the Multimedia Magazine in a Box

Aspen was conceived by Phyllis Johnson, a former editor for Women’s Wear Daily and Advertising Age. While wintering in Aspen, Colorado, she got the idea for a multimedia magazine, designed by artists, which would showcase “culture along with play.” So in the winter of 1965, she published her first issue. “We wanted to get away from the bound magazine format, which is really quite restrictive,” said Johnson.

Aspen published 10 issues between 1965 and 1971. Most of the issues arrived in a notebook-size box stuffed with articles that had been printed individually rather than stapled together. But it was the nature of its contents that made Aspen magazine stand out like a ski lift in a cornfield. Each issue was as likely to hold postcards, posters and phonograph records as essays. Among the magazine’s 235 contributors were many prominent figures on the 1960’s cultural landscape, including: Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsburg, John Cage, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham, John Lennon, Marshall McLuhan, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol. Each issue had a new designer and editor. “Aspen,” Johnson said, “should be a time capsule of a certain period, point of view, or person.” The last Aspen, issue number 10, was devoted to Asian art and philosophy.

If Aspen was an art director’s dream, it was also an advertiser’s nightmare. The ads, stashed at the bottom of the box, were easily ignored. And although Aspen was supposed to publish quarterly, in reality the publication date of each issue was as much of a surprise as the contents. “All the artists are such shadowy characters,” publisher Johnson said, “that it takes months to track them down.” After issue 5+6, there were no more ads in the magazine. Perhaps Aspen was a folly, but it was a vastly pleasurable one, with a significant place in art history. The list of contributors included some of the most interesting artists of the 20th Century. And as a paragon of creative publishing, Aspen was a true wonder. Its contents, however, are all but lost; few copies of Aspen have survived.

The Asia Issue contained fifteen numbered items, no advertisements and no editorial credits. It was published in 1971 by Aspen Communications Inc., NYC.

Music Audio: Peter Walker/White Wind:

Aspen Magazine’s Final Issue: The Asia Issue (1971)

Clearing Autumn Skies Over Mountains and Valleys, Kuo Hsi, China 11th Century

A Mountain Village In Clearing Mist, Ying Yu-chien, China, 11th Century

Tagasode (Whose Sleeves?), Anonymous, Japan, 17th Century

Noh and Kyogen Plays, Three-Panels, Anonymous, Japan, 17th Century

Waves, Two-Fold Screen, Ogata Korin, Japan (1658-1716)

Thou art That, Hindu Temple Sculptures, India, 11th Century

Vaishnava Painting, Indian Miniature Paintings, Northwest India, 18th Century

The Yama Tanka, Hanging Scroll, Tibet, 18th Century

Aspen Magazine’s Final Issue: The Asia Issue (Number 10, 1971)

Aspen: A Guided Tour of the Multimedia Magazine in a Box

Kenneth Goldsmith, the founding editor of UbuWeb, gives us an audio guided tour of Aspen Magazine, which is now housed permanently on UbuWeb. The tour includes an in-depth look at the films, recording, sculptures, writings and images that this remarkable publication produced. Published 10 times between 1965 and 1971, Aspen billed itself as the first three-dimensional magazine. Most of the issues arrived in a notebook-size box stuffed with articles that had been printed individually rather than stapled together. However, it was the nature of its contents that made Aspen magazine stand out like a ski lift in a cornfield. Each issue was as likely to hold postcards, posters and phonograph records as essays. And among the magazine’s 235 contributors were many prominent figures on the 60’s cultural landscape, includingAmong the magazine’s 235 contributors were many prominent figures on the 1960’s cultural landscape, who included: Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsburg, John Cage, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham, John Lennon, Marshall McLuhan, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.

An Audio Tour by Kenneth Goldsmith:

Aspen Magazine (Artists, Authors, Audio, Movies, Interactive Exhibits and Advertisements): The Complete Index

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Jeff Han: The Amazingly Orgasmic Pixel Guy

Jeff Han: The Amazingly Orgasmic Pixel Guy

The Emergence of Multi-Touch Technology

When Steve Jobs first introduced Apple’s iPhone at Macworld last year, the feature that evoked the most excitement was its touch-screen interface, allowing more than one touch at a time. The multi-touch technology added innovative new functions, such as allowing the user to easily zoom in and out of pictures and web pages by pinching the screen with two fingers.

But a more advanced version of the amazing power of multi-touch technology has been unleashed upon screens much larger than those on the iPhones. Over the past few years, Jeff Han, a research scientist at New York University, has developed a relatively inexpensive way to make large multi-touch screens that can accommodate 10, 20, or even more fingers. He foresees applications that range from interactive whiteboards to touch-screen tables and digital walls, any of which can manipulated by more than just one person. Han’s company, Perspective Pixel, is based upon the unique multi-touch technology that he’s pioneered.

The Amazing Perspective Pixel

Han’s touch display is made of clear acrylic with light-emitting diodes that are attached to the edges, which illuminate a six-millimeter-thick acrylic piece with infrared light. Normally, the light from the diodes reflects along predictable paths within the acrylic plate, a physical phenomenon called total internal reflection. However, once a finger or other object touches the acrylic, the internally reflecting light diffuses at the point of contact, scattering outside the surface. Behind the acrylic surface, there is a camera that captures this light and using simple image-processing software, the captured scattering is interpreted in real time as discrete touches and strokes.

Many researchers who’ve been working for decades on touch technology have been extremely excited to see these developments. “For almost two decades, we’ve been trapped by the tyranny of the screen, the mouse, and the keyboard,” observed Don Norman, professor at Northwestern University, in Chicago, and the author of The Design of Future Things. “It’s nice to think we’re breaking away from that and going toward touch-screen manipulation in the real physical world.”

What follows below is a video that presents a fascinating demonstration of Han’s Pespective Pixel, an exhibition that he made of “Perspective Pixel” at the annual TED Conference in Aspen, Colorado.

Jeff Han Presenting Perspective Pixel at TED

You can read more about Jeff Han’s groundbreaking Perspective Pixel in The Technology Review here.

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