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Behind the scenes: The Exposed magazine

Posted by Stine Fantoft Berg on Wednesday, November 25 2015

Paying respect to the slow pace of print, The Exposed magazine is the closest we've seen to a perfect merge between print and digital

Lots of people will cringe at the idea of a printed magazine that comes with an app, but The Exposed from Copenhagen is different. Exploring the boundaries between print and digital, it manages to create something intriguingly original – by enhancing pages with the artists’ commentary, it feels closer to watching a film than reading a magazine.

Invited to take part in the design-led incubator CIID Nest, creative director Henriette Kruse gathered a team – half of which she met at Fabrica, the Benetton-founded residency in Northern Italy – to develop her idea further. I spoke with Henriette about the experience of making The Exposed, and how they’ll continue to push boundaries.

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What came first, the idea to make a photography magazine, or an augmented reality magazine?
For the past years I’ve grown really interested in the interaction between print and digital, and pushing the boundaries while also trying to find a balance where each complements the other. For my final project at Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design I made a poetry publishing platform in which written poems were enhanced with audio recordings of the poets reciting them. Based on that project, I was invited to take part in a design-driven incubator run by the institute called CIID Nest and we were able to develop The Exposed further.

The technology we’re using works well with photography, so it made sense to make a photography-led magazine. But the driver is real people telling real stories; it’s not journalism, but you could probably draw parallels to the film documentary genre docu-fiction, which starts with a real scenario and combines it with staged and fictional elements. Throughout The Exposed it’s the artist who speaks to you, so in that sense it’s very honest, but it’s obviously curated from our side.

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We’ve seen some rather poorly executed digital magazines over the past couple of years and I can imagine a lot of people frowning upon the idea of ‘a printed magazine that comes with an app’. What’s your approach, and what have reactions been like so far?
Yes, it’s true that a lot of people are skeptical at first, but once we get to show them the actual product the reactions have only been positive. I hope it’s obvious that we love analogue the most – for us it’s not about technology, it’s about telling stories and using the available technology to tell them in the best way possible.

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I should point out that we haven’t invented any new technology. A lot of people are experimenting with augmented reality, but I think we’re different in the way we want to preserve the slow pace of the printed medium. We’ll never introduce ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons, or have stuff popping up just for the sake of it. The app should complement the printed magazine and add to it in a way that’s relevant and not annoying or confusing.

That said, linking print with digital could be done in a thousand different ways, and we don’t think this is the only way to do it. It’s just how we chose to do it. And the next issue may look very different.

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You all have creative backgrounds – how have you found the administration part of running a magazine?
Yeah, that’s the hardest part – looking for funding, how and where to get it printed, emails… But that’s where being part of the incubator was really valuable; from a very early stage we were exposed to a lot of men in pale blue shirts asking difficult, critical questions. We were constantly forced to think about the future, and investment.

There are a lot of creatives and designers with great business ideas out there, but no incubator will accept them because they don’t see the potential or revenue. But I think we’ll see more and more incubators, like the museum-led New Inc in New York, that are willing to take on more experimental projects and accept that they’re maybe not driven solely by the capital. I think that would lead to something really positive, and it could also push the business people to see that there’s value in these ideas.

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You told me earlier that the next issue may look very different – do you have an idea of what you’ll be doing differently?
This issue was very experimental and a lot was made up along the way. For the next issue we’ll have a much clearer idea from the start – we may do an open call rather than commissions, and would love to work with multidisciplinary artists who are excited about pushing the boundaries between print and digital with us.

I think there’s room for a lot of improvement – I’d like to explore augmented, and virtual, reality further and have artists explore how we can utilise the technology to the fullest, because it’s relevant rather than for the sake of it.

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