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Essay Title

:

All that is Air
Object: LOT’s ‘Fresh Hours’

Concept: Dispersion

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Walead Beshty, ‘FedEx@Large Box, International Priority Los Angeles - New York TRK-799801787482, New
York - London TRK-863164717027’ [2008].


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Concepts drive emergent publishing formats. This is evident when
looking at when and where the physical means of production (i.e. the
printing press) recede in favour of the less tangible (such as server-
based applications). This shift brings to the fore the concept of
dispersion, or the “the shimmering fascination of the instant” as
described by Maurice Blanchot in ‘The Book to Come’. In Blanchot’s
case dispersion, as noted in literature, was referred to disparagingly
and mourned as a loss, first through a type of fragmentation—“those
brief illuminations … moments of being”1 —then as a gradual,
intermittent disappearance—“Is there a way to gather together what is
dispersed, to make continuous the discontinuous?”2. Although this
perceived swelling tide of dispersion, evoked by the rise of
mechanised reproduction, has been seen as an encroaching doom or
‘death’3—particularly through the lens of literature’s historical lineage
—it has also become an accepted way of being for content propagated
online and, indeed, for post-digital media in general.

Artist, Seth Price noted in his on-going work titled ‘Dispersion’ that,
“Publicness today has as much to do with sites of production and
reproduction as it does with any supposed physical commons”4 . In this
work Price suggests it is helpful to see the act of reproduction and
distribution as less of an issue-to-be-addressed and more as a natural
state. The real problem for entities born online—and fed by the
systems internet-based project work allows—is that any sort of
resonance they seek to create is automagically rendered ephemeral
through the process of publishing it. Publishing creates versions
designed to proliferate and lead lives of their own. And yet, removing
the act of publishing leaves works and ideas static. As Silvio Lorusso
states in his essay, ‘Performing Publishing’, “…every reframing adds a
certain ‘charge’ to the work and therefore makes something new out of it.
No transposition is neutral”5 .

1. Blanchot, Maurice. "Reality". The Book to Come, translated by Charlotte Mandell, Stanford UP, 2003, p99.
2. Blanchot, Maurice. "Perfidious Calling." The Book to Come, p101.
3. Roland, Bathes. ‘The Death of the Author.’ Aspen, 1967. First published in English in Aspen, Issue 5+6.
4. Price, Seth. Dispersion. 38th Street Publishers, 2008.
5. Lorusso, Silvio. ‘Performing Publishing: Fragmentation, Networks and Circulation’. Copyshop, 2018.

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This is why creators working online will often allow what they
produce to naturally disseminate—to fragment and dissolve or morph
into new versions and editions—without question. This form of
distribution becomes part of the ebb and flow of a work or piece of
content’s life cycle—it’s built in. Digital memes and the act of
memetic dispersion6 through online forums is an accelerated display
of how a dispersed system of distribution like this operates.7 This
speed and intangibility—this slipperiness—makes it tricky to identify
objects and formats within emergent forms of publishing—but they
are there. To identify them requires a unpicking of the established
definitions they play with…

Take Cargo Collective’s ‘Useful Music’ for example—Cargo is an
online platform, popular with designers and creators looking to build
portfolios, and have them hosted for them, by utilising a set of pre-
defined site-based tools (similar to services such as Squarespace and
ReadyMag). Cargo recently started releasing a series of mixes via
Soundcloud titled ‘Useful Music’. Each mix is posted according to a
pre-defined schedule and each has it’s own artwork denoting it as
part of a series. Making it a periodical akin to a printed magazine or
journal, only as an mp3 file uploaded to an audio sharing site.8

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6. Dawkins, Richard. "Memes: The new replicators." The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, 1976.
7. I have made a video investigating ‘memetic dispersion’ which can be viewed on YouTube by visiting
https://youtu.be/siBUD16LHWs (accessed June 2018).
8. Cargo Collective. "Useful Music. All mixes." Cargo Collective blog, Cargo Collective, June 2018, http://
2.cargocollective.com/Useful-Music. Accessed 8 June 2018.

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We Transfer is a company set up to help people send large files to one
another in as simple and as streamlined a manner as possible. Their
success, in terms of profitability, has lead them to develop an
editorial arm, under the guidance of Editor-in-Chief, Rob Alderson
(previously editor of online-first platform, It’s Nice That) who was
running the ‘This Works’ blog, until it was re-framed as ‘We Present’,
earlier this year. ‘This Works’ took the form of a standard blog site
although it wasn’t just written posts that were published. ‘This
Works’ posts also contained links to original podcasts, videos,
project work and more.9 The blog behaving like an irregular
newsletter, only with enriched media embedded within the articles.

Worth noting too is an upcoming project by design collective, Future
Corp titled ‘vvatch’ which uses hybridisation to form a new format for
accessing video content online. In an article on It’s Nice That
describing the project, Marc Kremers from Future Corp fuses
together a number of established and emergent publishing formats
from television to YouTube to Netflix to Tumblr to Tinder.10
Hybridisation, at this scale, relies on dispersion techniques to take
part and reassemble formats. Techniques that naturally occur when
working with content online. As Kremers says in an interview for
The Caret, “The Internet smears time and experience in beautiful
ways”.11

Fresh Hours
And so we arrive at LOT and their regular live-streaming ‘hang outs’
known as Fresh Hours. At it’s core, LOT is a subscription service that
supplies customers with ‘portion-controlled’ clothing (1 sweatshirt
every 3 months, 1 pair of pants every 4 months, 1 t-shirt every 2

9. We Transfer’s ‘This Works’ blog was formerly at http://wetransfer.com/thisworks/
10. Gosling, Emily. "Marc Kremers Talks Us Through His New Tumblr-esque Curated Online Video Platform
Vvatch." It’s Nice That, 21 Oct. 2015, http://itsnicethat.com/features/marc-kremers-vvatch. Accessed
8 June 2018.
11. “Interviews. Marc Kremers." The Caret, http://thecaret.co/interviews/marc-kremers. Accessed
8 June 2018.

All that is air Michael Bojkowski 4 of 7
months, etc.), metered-out lifestyle products (such as dental floss,
charging cables, perfume, hair bleaching kits and tattoo guns) and
“media content”.

A large part of LOT’s appeal is in the knowing banality of their
presentation. The LOT code of practice states, “Do not build
utilitarian products. However, use them as a medium to express
yourself.”12 LOT products are generally only available in one colour:
black. There are no logos, only monotone descriptions mechanically
printed, often extolling odd expressions that read like lines of code
(LOT’s Hair Bleach proclaims, “BE HOLY LOT 0025 THE KEY BRB
7.15PM 01/12/2017 BECAUSE I AM HOLY”, the exterior of their posted
packages simply states, “FOR THE GOOD DEATH”). LOT’s minimal
presentation suggests that dispersion has already occurred—there is
no need for detailed packaging because, once a subscription has been
initiated, there is no one sales point or display—only the distribution
—the subscription model acting as a push button for the dispersion
that occurs as a result.

As much as LOT actively inhabit the realm of ‘personal subscription’
services there is also a desire for a type of politicised, communal ideal
—referring again to their code of practice, “Look for loyalty, not for a
skill set”. Therefore, they recently initiated a ‘free subscription’ tier—
the ‘digital plan’—which acts very much like a traditional publishing
arm (although it’s easily argued that their other plans act in a similar
way, publishing clothing and products rather than text, audio or
video-based content). LOT’s digital plan offers subscribers access to
text-based works (often fictional or poetic) via email, mixes via
SoundCloud and meet-ups, under the banner of ‘Fresh Hours’, via live-
streaming services such as Twitch.13 It’s these meet-ups that offer
insight into—not just the new shapes of formats emerging from
online publishing—but also the way the ephemera produced by these

12. LOT. "Code of Practice." LOT, http://lot2046.com/code. Accessed 8 June 2018.
13. LOT. "fresh hours." Twitch, LOT, http://twitch.tv/videos/265399225. Accessed 8 June 2018.

All that is air Michael Bojkowski 5 of 7
emergent formats is captured and allowed to resonate—the way
published entities are encouraged to disperse.

During a ‘Fresh Hours’ meet-up, a host is invited at a particular time
to chat and share their music tastes and creative inspirations with
subscribers and attendees. In comparison with earlier fears discussed
at the beginning of this essay about the dispersion of ‘author’itative
voices, Fresh Hours, offers something new away from the ejaculate
described by Mieke Bal in her discussion of the navel14 and
Blanchot’s mournful reading of Virginia Wolf’s final text.15

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Still from a ‘Fresh Hours’ live stream with live discussion on the left, handheld device mirroring a
google search in the middle and Twitch chat stream on the right.

The atmosphere is calm, voices hushed, images and references are
shared but not enforced. Music plays and visitors and host are
allowed to be distracted by it. There is the standard Twitch chat area
although it is less frenetic, or charged with provocations, as the tone
of the host’s presentation doesn’t allow for this. In this way ‘Fresh
Hours’ becomes a rare space within the realm of online conversation
where interaction occurs in a polite and genuinely mindful way. This

14. Bal, Mieke. Looking in: The Art of Viewing. Routledge, 2013, p82.
15. Blanchot, Maurice. "Reality." The Book to Come, translated by Charlotte Mandell, Stanford UP, 2003, p101.

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is in stark contrast to the majority of the broadcasters on Twitch who
operate within a duality where they are encouraged to play online
games within the game-ified community system Twitch employs. If
there is an authoritative voice within LOT’s Fresh Hours it is quietly
and calmly aware of it’s dispersion—almost led by it.

“It’s important to have this ego death.”16
Seth Price refers to this reframing of dispersion through published
media by referencing Martha Rosler and her notion of the ‘as-if’.17
For contemporary art to be truly affecting—for it to really matter in a
way that nudges towards a type aequitas—it must unpin itself from
familiar tropes such as philosophical discourse, from the physical
spaces that house it (Brian O’Doherty in his essay, ‘Inside the White
Cube’ describes the gallery or museum space as having “laws as
rigorous as those for building a medieval church”18)—to detach from
all those ‘author’itative voices and allow itself to be set adrift
amongst popular culture. It must disperse to be considered relevant.
But not in a way that suggests a diminishing, rather in a way that is
open to change. LOT’s continued activity is a microcosmic view of
how this non-traditional, emergent breed of publishers manoeuvre
within the post-digital environment and how dispersion has become
ingrained in the every day.

16. Chayka, Kyle. "Engineering the End of Fashion." Ssense, 25 July 2017, http://ssense.com/en-us/editorial/
fashion/engineering-the-end-of-fashion. Accessed 8 June 2018.
17. Price, Seth. 2002–ongoing. Dispersion. Essay displayed through various mediums. Rhizome Net Art
Anthology. https://anthology.rhizome.org/dispersion. Accessed 8 June 2018.
18. O’Doherty, Brian. "Inside the White Cube: Notes on the Gallery Space, Part 1." Artforum, March 1976.

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