The following is an article written by our Canberra colleague Caren Florance, aka Ampersand Duck. It was commissioned by Big Fag Press co-director Lucas Ihlein for his UNDERGROUND edition of Artlink Magazine, launched in June 2010. Since it relates directly to the seizing of obselete printing technology by ratbags, we thought it germane to reprint here on the Big Fag website.
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Stop the Press: the Allure of Ink
Caren Florence, June 2010
[An early printing office (!), 1499 (from S.H. Steinberg, Five Hundred Years of Printing (UK: Pelican, 1955), plate A.]
There is something magical that happens to text when it is printed. In print, a scramble of handwritten words becomes solid, legible and above all, authoritative. Some of the most outrageous propaganda and religious doctrine throughout world history have been believed because they have been printed. Printing brings ideas to the surface and imbues them with power in a way that cannot ever be underestimated. Even these days, with so many ideas shared over the internet, there is still glamour and prestige in having your words transformed into printed matter: witness all the blogs that turn into books.
Printing, however, takes money, and distribution needs connections. When people want or need to share their ideas without the necessary money and connections, you get underground publishing, and ingenious methods of print production and distribution.