title place type year
On secret languages Spector Books book essay 2023

An essay for D is for Daughter, an artist book by Elina Birkehag that details her project researching and photographing the marks and messages left on the trees by young women shepherds in her hometown of Dalarna, Sweden. From the 17th to the early 20th centuries, young, unmarried women in the area would leave their villages to live and work together on the fäbod (summer farm) and lead their families’ cattle out to graze. While in the pastures, these young women, many of them teenagers, carved the date, their initials, and notes to each other, leaving the trunks scrawled with a kind of teenage freneticism, a coded language, an assertion of their existence: HERE WE DRAW OUR NAMES.

I wrote an essay for the reader section of the book, alongside contributions by Amelia Groom & M. Ty, Quinn Latimer, Jungmyung Lee, Matilda Kenttä & Linnea Rutz, and Jennie Tiderman Österberg. “Wood for the Trees: and other things we cannot see” is about secret languages, trees talking, messages hidden in plain sight, and memory work, which is so often women’s work. “Embroidered into clothing, carved into trees, written into decades-old scientific papers, this work might linger on the edges, or be shrouded in innocuousness. It might hide in plain sight until someone is ready to look, the only key needed to break the code. Attention is a crucial precursor of understanding, and to give something your attention you must first see it. The shepherds must have known that too; they often began their messages with SI, meaning ‘look here.’ ”

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Guest Critic Princeton crit 2023

Guest critic for the final projects of students in David Reinfurt’s class on design research.

Are.na Annual 2023 Are.na book 2023

A yearly anthology of writing from the people of Are.na. This year, the Annual is themed "service," as in an act of helping or supplying; to repair or maintain; to provide a public need; a meeting for worship, a place to refuel.

Read more about what's in it in my Editor’s Letter.

Contributors include June T. Sanders, Tiger Dingsun, Chris Rypkema, Morgan Strahorn, Miaoye Que, Jo Suk, Maxwell Neely-Cohen, Teah Brands, Molly Soda, Ada Popowicz, Aisha Ghei Dev, Alice Yuan Zhang, Zander Abranowicz, Cindy Hwang, Luiza Dale, Tuan Quoc Pham, Stepahnie Marie Cedeno, Charlotte Strange, Adriana Gallo, Rohan Chaurasia, Michael Norman, Robin Mendoza, Michelle Jia, Moon Mokgoro, Imani Cooper Mkandawire, Sharon Park, and Carolyn Li-Madeo.

Book design by Leslie Liu and Daniel Pianetti, and beautiful cover design by Rohan Chaurasia.

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In-conversation with Malte Mueller, Louise Kunth, and Charles Broskoski ISLAND in conversation 2023

A conversation about Are.na and the Are.na Annual at the event space ISLAND in Hamburg, followed by people presenting their Are.na channels. Put on with the Klasse Digitale Grafik Klasse at HFBK.

On a set of rules, impossible to follow Manual.land liner notes 2022

An essay introduction to Mitko Mitkov’s text and sound project MANUAL, a Telegram group-turned-website and, soon, album.

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Visiting Teacher Estonia Academy of Arts seminar 2022

A seminar on digital publishing at Eesti Kunstiakadeemia for Masters graphic design students, co-taught with Julia Novitch, learning about the poetics and parameters of webzines and collectively creating one of our own.

On the gender star Source Type essay 2022

An essay on the evolution of the gender star, an asterisk placed within German nouns to denote gender inclusivity and neutrality. Similarly seen in other languages with gendered nouns, the gender star is a “typohack” (to use a term by designer Hannah Witte) — an imperfect but necessary quick fix as language catches up with cultural and societal change. A radial representative of omission, transition, and change, the asterisk has over time become a kind of symbol for the malleability of language. Accompanied by a visual essay by Mindy Seu and Laura Coombs.

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Stine Janvin and Cory Arcangel conversation Primary Information text 2022

Editing for an interview between the two artists for Identity Pitches, a book of conceptual music scores that Cory and Stine based on the knitting patterns for traditional Norwegian sweaters known as Lusekofte. Their conversation gives context to the work by delving into the history of Norwegian folk music tunings and the knit patterns, and their intersection with the cultural identity of the country over the last millennium.

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Feral File Feral File exhibition materials 2022

Editing exhibition materials and editorial pieces for digital art gallery Feral File, co-founded by Casey Reas.

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On websites, which are never ready Lerchenfeld article 2022

A write-up for HFBK Hamburg’s Lerchenfeld magazine of the Never Ready conference, held by the Klasse Digitale Grafik. As Konrad Renner puts it, “Change, wanted or not wanted, is a substantial part of working with websites. It’s intrinsic, deeply embedded in the DNA of the medium.”


On logic and leakage Automatic Editions book essay 2022

An essay for Coral Saucedo Lomelì’s artist book An Incomplete History of Pierced Vessels, on holes, women, water, sieves, and “fatal formlessness.” The essay, titled “There’s a Logic to this Leakage," was in response to Coral’s beautiful clay vessels — sometimes long and tubular, other times slick and pitted; turned upside down, they became drains, sieves, then sculptures, glazed and stacked like totems, broken into shards or printed onto paper. The book itself is also riddled with holes — what is held is just as important as what is let through.

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Thesis crit Estonian Academy of Arts jury review 2022

Part of the jury for the first graduating cohort of the EKA graphic design MA program

Source Type Source Type publication 2022

Editorial for Source Type, a platform for typographic research and visual literacy from Laurenz Brunner.

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Multidimensional Citations by CSS The Serving Library essay 2022

Editing for the first draft of Multidimensional Citations by Laura Coombs, Laurel Schwulst, and Mindy Seu, which was later commissioned and edited by The Serving Library.


A Vast, Pointless Gyration of Radioactive Rocks and Gas in Which You Happen to Occur A24 book 2022

Editing for a book published by A24, with filmmakers Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, about the multiverse. We commissioned some writers, illustrators, poets, scientists, philosophers, and quilters we admire to make work about the different multiverse scenarios, and came away with was a book about perspective, possibilities, myth-making, and information overload. Featuring works by Ted Chiang, Esme Weijun Wang, Etgar Keret, Emily Segal, Raymond Queneau, Jorge Luis Borges, and many more. Published in March 2022, alongside the Daniels’ movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, which also takes place across the multiverse.

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On alt-text and describing the web The New York Times feature 2022

An interactive piece on alt text, the image descriptions tucked away in a website’s HTML, which people who are blind or have low vision often rely on when navigating the web. There are billions of images online, and only a small fraction of them are accessible in this way. Together with Ilaria Parogni, we talked to the people who are working to change that.

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Let’s Consider the Bootleg by Ben Schwartz Jan Van Eyck Academie text 2022

Editing for Ben Schwartz’s essay-publication, "Let’s Consider the Bootleg," which looks at bootlegging as an artistic gesture. Following Ben’s UNLICENSED series on Walker Art Center’s The Gradient, this piece is the culmination of a year of research at Jan Van Eyck Academie and the first part of a larger, forthcoming publication project.

On Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt Desired Landscapes essay 2021

"Holes in the Wall" is an essay for Athens-based Desired Landscapes magazine, on Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, the "typewritings" that she mailed all around the world from behind the Berlin wall, and growth. Wolf-Rehfeldt believed in a future better than the bordered one she lived in, which is why she made and mailed her artwork, making the wall “full of holes,” to quote curator Valerie Hortolani.

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The Life and Death of an Internet Onion, s2 Self-published publication 2021

“It's basically just a bunch of people musing on the possibility of expressing love online, how love exists online, things like this.”—Laurel Schwulst

I edited the second season of THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN INTERNET ONION, a layered webzine about the possibilities of love online. Season one published the writing of Laurel’s students at Yale, who also conceptualized the site, while this year’s contributions were from students at VCU as well as a few friends from the internet. Life any non-refrigerated onion, the "internet onion" has a shelf life of five weeks, during which it will slowly start to decay before dying completely. It comes back perennially in late summer and begins its cycle anew. This year's 15 new entries are naturally closest to the center, since onions grow new layers from the inside-out.

As curator Cori Olinghouse has put it, "Temporalities animate life...Rather than saving and preserving what otherwise might be lost, [the internet onion] invites visitors to move through states of change. There isn’t the possibility to grab and take hold."

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In-conversation with Mindy Seu, Shannon Mattern, and Dan Taeyoung Internets of Everything in conversation 2021

A conversation, organized and moderated with Are.na, for the Billion Seconds Institute series "Internet(s of Everything)" around the question of “How can we be generous with our curiosity online?” Participants were Mindy Seu, Shannon Mattern, and Dan Taeyoung, each of whom is very generous with their teaching, organizing, and presenting their interests online.

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On Aarati Akkapeddi’s memory work The New York Times feature 2021

A piece for the "Surfacing" column at the Times on artist Aarati Akkapeddi’s work "I know if I walked in your footsteps, it would become a ritual," a series of machine-generated images of their mom, Sudha Akkapeddi. The images are deeply saturated and slid softly out of focus, more painterly than photographic, with a haziness that hints at the elusiveness of memory. I love this memory work that Aarati is doing with GANs, which they relate to the process of remembering—in each case, it's an approximation.

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On algorithmic apparitions The Broadcast essay 2021

For several years, Aarati Akkapeddi has been collecting hundreds of photos from family members, scanning them, and sorting them—a process combining both automation and manual labor—then training a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) on them to produce a composite of each person’s digital likeness. Inputting several decades’ worth of photos of their mother, for instance, results in a morphing portrait that bears a striking resemblance to the subject, while still seeming to search for her features. Fuzzy and unfixed, a spectre more familiar than accurate, the composite image looks uncannily close to how memory feels.

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On Soft Protest Digest Mold interview 2021

For Mold’s Urban Ecologies series, an interview with Soft Protest Digest, a research collective founded by Nickie Sigurdsson, Robin Bantigny, and Jérémie Rentien Lando. For the past two years, they’ve been developing “environmentally and culturally resilient” dishes that take into account both the environmental footprint of the ingredients and the food’s cultural resonance. With each of their projects, The Soft Protest Digest shows how a sense of place and connection to the local is essential for forming new food traditions, and why forming new food traditions is so necessary in our current climate crisis.

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On digital literary magazines Frieze article 2023

An article about the nascent little world of digital literary magazines and the interactive stories and computational poetry that are meant to exist on the web. Working with both words and code, these writers inventively use the browser as their medium, playing with duration, mutation and possibility.

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On art that dismantles language Eye on Design feature 2021

In 1967, Robert Smithson wrote in a press release for an exhibition of language-based art (which he famously described as consisting of “Language to be Looked at and/or Things to be Read”) at the Dwan Gallery in New York, “Here language is built up, not written.” Art that dismantles language, isolates it from its meaning, and treats it as object has proliferated ever since. In a non-comprehensive survey of artists who work with typography, I explore how with these works we can defamiliarize ourselves with how language is made and used, and lose ourselves in the letters and the expressive possibilities of language and the many ways it can live in the world.

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Are.na Annual 2022 Are.na book 2022

This year’s Annual is themed “portal,” as in an opening or point of entry, in the form of a website, gate, door, or hatch; an approach; a way to get or do something, a portal to.

Contributors include Njari Dimario Anderson, Evelyn Bi, Agnes Cameron, Cortney Cassidy, S.A. Chavarría, Ayana Zaire Cotton, Madelyne Cummings, Ariel Dong, Sophia Dorfsman, Paige Emery, Elena Flores, Laura Houlberg, Leslie Liu, Tess Murdoch, Cori Olinghouse, Cedric Payne, Brixton Sandhals, Laurel Schwulst, Travess Smalley, Roque Strew, Mike Tully, Alex Turgeon, Bryce Wilner, Lukas WinklerPrins, and Rue Yi.

Book design by Daniel Pianetti and Leslie Liu, and cover design by Ayana Zaire Cotton.

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Are.na Annual 2021 Are.na book 2021

Our second Aren.a Annual was themed ”tend,“ as in to care for or manage, to give your attention to, or to move toward a particular direction, an inclination or “tendency.”

Contributors include Rona Akbari, Zainab Aliyu, American Artist, Weeda Azim, neta bomani, fiona carty, Juliana Castro, R.C. Clarke, Shea Fitzpatrick, Melanie Hoff, Madeline Hsia, Clemens Jahn, Lucy Siyao Liu, Omar Mohammad, lily nguyen, Emma Rae Bruml Norton, Lai Yi Ohlsen, Alice Otieno, William Pan, Elizabeth Perez, Ingrid Raphael, Charlie Reynolds, Michael Bell-Smith, and Austin Wade Smith.

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On Karen Blixen’s flowers Are.na essay 2021

Karen Blixen was a baroness and a Danish author best known for her books Seven Gothic Tales, Out of Africa, and Babette’s Feast. She wrote under the pen name Isak Dinesen, wore ornamental hats and giant fur coats, and was one of the 20th century’s most essential authors, per Margaret Atwood. She was also, apparently, a gardener, as well as a talented, intuitive, somewhat unhinged arranger of flowers.

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Ecology + Design session AIGA Design Conference talk 2020

For the 2020 AIGA Design Conference, I organized and led a session around environmentalism and design, featuring Benedetta Crippa, Jarrett Fuller, Julia Watson, Anoushka Khandwala, Joycelyn Longdon, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Jonny Black, and Scott Starrett.

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The Life and Death of an Internet Onion Yale publication 2020

In April 2018, 2018, Fei Liu wrote the essay “A Drop of Love in the Cloud” for Are.na and The Creative Independent. In April 2019, Laurel Schwulst asked me to work on a publication with her interactive design class at Yale that responded to this piece. She prompted her class, “What are other love inputs that might allow us to ‘reach across the chasm of a seamless signal’?” The answers were layered, they spoke toward duration and the possibilities of loving someone from a distance. We made the publication an onion, and like other onions, it has a shelf-life of 5 weeks, after which it will slowly rot and die. It may be dead now, depending on when you're reading this, but this publication is perennial, so it will be live again in April 2021.

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On The New Women’s Survival Catalog The New York Times feature 2020

In 1973, Kirsten Grimstad and Susan Rennie quit their jobs, rented a green Plymouth Duster, and drove 12,000 miles across the country to document a nationwide network of feminist alternative culture and resources. They visited feminist bookstores, printers, divorce co-ops, credit unions, dropped in on Rita Mae Brown and Judy Chicago, and in one case, tracked down an agriculture collective in California by asking around for the “women goat farmers with an octagonal barn.” The result is The New Woman’s Survival Catalog, the “feminist Whole Earth Catalog,” which was a bestseller in 1973 that all but disappeared before getting a recent reissue.

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On Christoph Knoth and Konrad Renner Lerchenfeld interview 2020

For HFBK Hamburg’s Lerchenfeld magazine, an interview with designers Christoph Knoth and Konrad Renner of Knoth & Renner about digital publishing, the handmade web, the unlikely endurance of the PDF, and websites that replicate, then disappear.


Guest Lecturer American College of Greece talk 2020

A lecture on design writing for the History of Graphic Design and Contemporary Graphic Design classes at the American College of Greece.

Are.na Annual Are.na book 2020

A printed book about the past, present, and future of the Internet, with republished essays from the blog and five new, never-before-seen pieces. Alongside a three-part essay “When It Changed” on witnessing the backlash against the corporate-owned Internet, the writings in the book explore and celebrate the creative, poetic, and personal potential of the Web. Contributions by Becca Abbe, Cory Arcangel, Omayeli Arenyeka, Charles Broskoski, Claire Evans, Will Freudenheim, Willa Koerner, Jasmine Lee, Eric Li, Meg Miller, Mimi Onuoha, Andy Pressman, David Reinfurt, Danielle Robinson, Rachel Rosenfelt, Laurel Schwulst, Mindy Seu, Leo Shaw, Toph Tucker, Karly Wildenhaus, and Gary Zhexi Zhang.

Are.na Annual

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Design Talk with Studio Pandan The Boy’s Club in conversation 2019

Together with Maddy Morley, we spoke to Studio Pandan about their approach to editorial design, how they work together as a studio, and why they're compelled by magazine making as a medium.

Personal Photographs by Cory Arcangel TB Editions essay 2019

I edited a piece written by Cory Arcangel for the Italian gallery The Blank Contemporary and its publishing arm TB Editions. The catalog was for Eva and Franco Mattes My Little Big Data and Cory wrote an excellent essay called “Personal Photographs” on “the ‘image world’ that both consumes us and fits so snugly into the palm of our hands.” I provided editorial guidance, a topedit, and a fact check.

Reenvisioning the Internet series Walker Reader essays 2019

For the Walker Art Center and Are.na, I edited a series of essays that asked artists and technologists to offer their hopes for the future of the web.

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Guest editor for “Writing as Metadata” class Yale University guest editor 2019

For Laurel Schwulst’s “Writing as Metadata” class, I guest edited a student online publication called called The Life and Death of an Internet Onion.

On Anna Della Subin The Creative Independent interview 2019

A talk with writer Anna Della Subin on the virtues of idleness, procrastination as its own form of productivity, and the mythological power of sleep.

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Issue launch with Madeleine Morley Athenaeum Books talk 2019

A talk on gossip and magazine making for the Amsterdam launch of the third issue of Eye on Design.

On restaurant websites (and why we’re all going to miss them) Are.na interview 2019

An interview with Toph Tucker and Jasmine Lee on restaurant websites as the last bastions of personality on the web, the tyranny and possibility of Squarespace, and the unseen labor of restaurant webmasters. Conducted with Laurel Schwulst as the part of a series of interviews hosted in our kitchen. H/t to Leo Shaw for the descriptors.

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On Sheila Levrant de Bretteville Riposte feature 2018

“I’m much more a connector than a resistor. But when push comes to shove, I’m definitely a resistor.” A visit to the circular home of Sheila Levrant de Bretteville to talk about the Woman's Building in L.A., the shortcomings of the second wave, and design pedagogy seeped in activism. For Riposte magazine in London.


On spelling spelling The Serving Library essay 2018

An essay for The Serving Library’s Translation issue on the 19th century attempt to create a universal language by Alexander Melville Bell and the resulting alphabet of cryptic, otherworldly symbols codifying the articulation of speech sounds. Also includes: the Blue Ridge Mountains, Fran Ross’ Oreo, the placelessness of written speech, and the commendable effort to translate all the various "shades of sound."

From the Google books scan of *Visible Speech: The Science of Universal Alphabetics* by Alexander Melville Bell...

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Thesis students writing workshop Parsons School of Design workshop 2018

A lecture and workshop on the beauty of simple, plainspoken language for thesis design students at Parsons.

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Visiting Critic Rutgers University critique 2018

Visiting critic for thesis design students at Rutgers University during the fall semester 2018.

Conference talk on independent publishing Indiecon talk 2018

A talk in Hamburg on editing Eye on Design and publishing as a generative act.

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On seeing and being seen Eye on Design Essay 2018

For Eye on Design issue one, themed Invisible, an essay on Alvin Lustig, who designed blind in his last years of life, and Elaine Lustig Cohen, who served as his eyes and hands before becoming a well-known designer in her own right. “I always say that either I would have remained this shy, unproductive person, or I would have grown up and divorced [Alvin] if he hadn’t died. I don’t know, because the person that I became would have never put up with what I was doing. But we’ll never know.”

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In-conversation with David Reinfurt Google Design in conversation 2019

An intro and post-lecture interview with David Reinfurt on the life and work of Muriel Cooper.

On Mierle Laderman Ukeles Are.na essay 2017

For the Are.na blog, an essay on Mierle Laderman Ukeles, who was an artist-and-resident at New York City’s Department of Sanitation for three decades, on how her work drew a parallel between private domestic work and low-paying public maintenance work. Her Work Ballets, in which excavators, dump trucks, and street sweepers become graceful beings, bowing to commune with the ground, regarding each other curiously, or weaving in-between each other in a choreographed street dance, are some of my favorite pieces of art ever.

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Eye on Design magazine AIGA publication 2017-2019

I edit the print magazine for Eye on Design, published by AIGA, the nonprofit professional organization for graphic designers. We publish three issues a year, each with a new theme and designed by a different designer, with the goal of telling stories that provide testimony to this moment in graphic design.

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Are.na blog Are.na publication 2017-

Since 2017, I’ve run a publication for Are.na that publishes interviews and essays following the threads of interest and pieces of research collected on the platform. Key topics include bettering the internet, experimental publishing, and continued learning, but the focus is mainly on personal projects that aren't a means to an end, and on following one’s innate curiosity and sleuthing interests.

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On the representation of women in movies and books The Atlantic feature 2016

For The Atlantic, an article that explores how the representation of women in books and films is effected by the gender makeup of the industries that produce them.

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