Imagine a world where the lines between literature, music and visual arts are blurred. Where free-form expression reigns supreme and constant artistic collaboration is the norm. That is the world of Born Magazine, an 11-year-old Pacific Northwest publication you’ve probably never heard of.
Imagine a world where the lines between literature, music and visual arts are blurred. Where free-form expression reigns supreme and constant artistic collaboration is the norm.
That is the world of Born Magazine, an 11-year-old Pacific Northwest publication you’ve probably never heard of.
The artistic offerings published by Born are consequently varied and unique. Instead of a poem simply about death, for example, we get Keetje Kulpers’ and Andrew Kostulk’s “What Afterlife,” an online multimedia piece where a poem is whispered to us about ghostly things, set to haunting music and played out on a staticky old-fashioned television in pseudo-sepia tones.
The effect is a poem brought to life, visually and audibly, which makes the viewer question where the poem ends and the visual art begins.
Anmarie Trimble, an associate professor at PSU and editor of Born Magazine, says that crossover and muddling is exactly the point of the publication. She says that through multimedia, “we can find out what happens when poems can move.”
Born‘s offerings are sometimes whimsical, sometimes brooding, taking us into the mind and creative interpretation of no less than two artists per piece. Trimble says the way in which the collaborations take place can vary.
Sometimes the editors will take submitted graphic design and simply pair it with a submitted poem. Other times, the poet and the artist will openly collaborate with each other to produce a dual work of art, and occasionally a musician is brought in to supply a soundtrack to the piece.
The magazine was first printed in 1996 by a group of friends in Seattle who wanted to create a magazine. They turned to the Internet as their medium the following year because it was a cheaper to publish online.
Originally, the ‘zine was much more traditionally structured. There were advice columns and music reviews, along with the poetry and art.
“As the technology evolved,” said Trimble, “the magazine evolved. The things sticking around were what you could not do in print.”
Like any proud parent, Born‘s creators have maintained all of their past and present works online in their archives for perusal. Eleven years of inspiration and collaboration is a lot to take in, but it also tells the story of the publication’s evolution from an online magazine imitating a paper one, to an online magazine becoming fully aware of itself and its capabilities.
Trimble said the differences between what a magazine can do in print and what it can do online are vast. The idea behind Born is to push the limits of avant-garde in the poetry world, and test not only the boundaries of how poems are created and presented, but how literary magazines work as well.
In the past, the magazine was published on a quarterly schedule. But currently, Trimble said, the editorial staff is moving away from traditional publishing standards and stretching themselves out in the fluid timeline of cyberspace, where things can be published at will.
“Instead of having the work reflect the launches,” she said, “we want the launches to reflect the work.”
The all-volunteer staff is currently working on concepts for a complete redesign of the site to take it further in to the realm of the digital landscape. In the meantime, Trimble invites guests to explore the magazine’s current offerings from their first issue of 2008.
“Please explore,” Born echoes the invitation to its visitors while loading a page, suggesting the readers take on the precocious budding curiosity of an 11-year-old themselves. As interactivity spreads to all corners of the Internet via social networking, it is a welcome change to receive such a greeting from the art world.
Recommended viewing: “What Afterlife” and “Among the Gospel Trees, the Only Moving Thing” (both available from front page).