Performing Publishing: Infrathin Tales from the Printed Web *
Paul Soulellis
paul@soulellis.com
Abstract submission for Theorizing the Web 2015 #TtW15 


Library of the Printed Web emerged two years ago at #TtW13. With a table
set-up at CUNY Graduate Center, I originally imagined it as a one-time event:
a quick presentation of printed matter by artists who work with, on or around
the web. But from there the project grew; it’s now an ongoing, physical
collection of more than 150 books, zines, postcards and other printout material
by over 50 artists. I speak, teach, write about and present the project regularly.
Last year, I began publishing Printed Web. Each issue is a curated, print-on-
demand group show featuring new web-to-print works. Printed Web #3 will
launch at Offprint London at the Tate Modern in May 2015.

The printed web—as a curatorial idea, as an artist’s practice or as a publishing
concept—is about flux. As I’ve developed the project during the last two years
I’ve struggled to characterize this slippery space between the screen and the
printed page. Beyond the obvious ideas of “slowing down” or materiality, what
else happens when we print digital material? How does the printed web
engage with a larger, evolving scriptural economy? This inquiry opens up an
expansive investigation and experiment, one that plays out in other areas of
art and independent publishing as artists move, shift and translate works
between various digital and non-digital conditions. This way of working could
be described as a transduction” between media: mixing, lending and
embedding digital processes into traditional print, and back again, the two
forming a hybrid character. At Kenneth Goldsmith’s suggestion, I'll evoke
Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the infrathin to get at this in-between condition,
this “immeasurable gap between two things as they transition or pass
into one another
.”

The infrathin condition surrounds us. Hito Steyerl writes that the web is
spilling over into other dimensions—that the socio-political implications of the
internet are no longer confined to being “on” the network. As the networked
condition pushes itself offline, beyond its own boundaries, we might see the
printed web as evidence of “versioning.” The map and the territory it refers to
entangle and confuse each other. Let’s examine this gap between image and
world, between network and object. What’s in there? Speculation and intense
anxiety? Some kind of pleasure?

I’d like to tease open these characterizations. As we copy, remix and distribute
versions of text, images and identities there can be an uncertain satisfaction in
the simultaneity of things, of seeing and/or making the double and sensing a
difference, even if it can’t be identified. Perhaps it’s uncanny.

My talk will draw upon the work of curators and artists in the post-internet
space (Kenneth Goldsmith, Clement Valla, Olia Lialina and others) to propose
that circulating, distributing and actively spilling the artist’s practice onto and
off the network is performing publishing. Performing publishing is ongoing,
continuous dissemination in a networked condition. Printed Web is my effort to
document performing publishing as well as to enact it.


First published as a text on Hyperallergic. I’d like to incorporate Printed
Web #3 into the essay and transform it into a talk for #TtW15.