The volume of art online soon exploded. Museums catalogue their entire collections for us to comb through, archives of public domain content abound, and more than enough has been written about the world of the blog.
With the proliferation of e-books, publishers replicate books in extremely limited digital forms that give them no control over how a book looks or feels. The specialised and wonderful typesetting process of the print world is defunct in an e-reading universe, with formatting overridden by each device’s software.
Going Down Swinging’s editions have always had their own identity, and as a reader I feel an appreciation for the editors’ vision simply by looking at the cover. At the turn of the millennium, Going Down Swinging was a square thick-covered hypercolour treat. Years later, the ballooning dandy duck of No. 30 is probably the most iconic cover we’ve published. Most recently, No. 33, known as ‘The Jesus Issue’, was printed on as close to bible paper as we could find.
This is the legacy of printed books alongside which our digital editions now exist. In 2011 we launched our first digital edition, No. 31, using the e-reading format. It was a tremendous leap forward for Going Down Swinging and saw us publish illustrations, audio, and video alongside written works. In particular this was the first time we opened our editions to video artists and writers wanting to work with film.
In No. 34, we have tried to use the best of digital publishing technology to do the published works justice. We’ve released the edition as an online version compatible on all devices as well as an iOS App.
One characteristic of new technology is that initially people try to marry it with older methods. Book content is forced into digital formats, rather than digital formats being the basis for developing content. In editing the pieces with Geoff and Bhakthi, the objective was to build the form of No. 34 around the selected works, rather than embedding works in a pre-structured webpage or e-book. This edition contains everything from fiction to audio interviews, video poetry to comic strips, interactive storytelling and websites. Such a variety of forms requires a book format that’s as flexible as it is precise.
Each issue Going Down Swinging commissions several new long-form works, traditionally from writers, visual artists, spoken word performers. For this edition we commissioned three impressive works with an eye to digital presentation. The True Life Story of a Cinema Thief is a collaboration between short story writer Eddie Sharp and graffiti artist Heesco, a comic strip retelling of a notorious Australian larcenist. Zoe Norton Lodge’s Bandtown documents her time as a teenager in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Marching Band, while Tim Spencer’s loveporn™ is a compelling look at the role of the internet in loneliness, fulfilment, and the search for intimacy.
I believe we’ve given No. 34 a personality of its own, with beautiful edition illustrations by Natalie Hughes and an interface that feels natural for the reader.
My hope is that this book is firmly part of the Going Down Swinging tradition that precedes it; that it presents the authors’ works in their element; and that No. 34 is a form worthy of the wonderful writing, performances and illustrations it contains.