From Iceland — The Advanced Way to Experience Art

The Advanced Way to Experience Art

Published March 8, 2007

The Advanced Way to Experience Art

With the existence of YouTube and other internet video sites – where people can distribute as well as download a never-ending amount of movies and video clips onto their computers – it’s never been easier to access entertainment. The only problem is, quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality and, as users are growing in numbers by the minute, it can take hours to find the good stuff, a time-consuming shortcoming to an otherwise excellent amusement.

For the past few years, publishers of so called DVD magazines have developed a way to meet the growing interest for easily accessible and high-quality visual entertainment by introducing a new medium where, instead of written material, the magazines contain full-screen videos and top quality live footage. It’s a fairly new phenomenon, but for the past couple of years there has been a small revolution in the business and with new publications the popularity is steadily rising. Some of you readers have perhaps stumbled across an issue or two when travelling abroad, but those who are not familiar with the concept, DVD magazines are, as the name indicates, magazines in a DVD format, covering multiform subjects as music videos, fashion shows, documentaries and interviews.

Up until now these kinds of visual publications have been non-existent in Iceland, but that is about to change on March 30th, when the first issue of Rafskinna, a new Icelandic DVD magazine, will be released. Published by Rasskinn EHF – a company owned by artist Pétur Már Gunnarsson, director Ragnheiður Gestsdóttir, producer Sigurður Magnús Finnsson and director Þórunn Hafstað – it’s a quarterly magazine containing a two hour DVD disc featuring a compilation of music videos, exclusive interviews, live performances, animation, documentaries, short-films and video-art. The magazine’s concept is culture and art in its widest context, placing special emphasis on music related material.
“If we could point out some resemblance to our magazine it would be the British DVD Magazine Specialten. That particular magazine [founded by two guys in 2002] started off as a small project but is now sold in all the major record stores in Britain and distributed in the US as well,” Sigurður explains.

Focusing on the extensive art and music culture in Iceland, the four founders, who also serve as the magazine’s editors, have for the past few months been tracking down interesting artists, shooting live music performances and collecting material from film-makers, cartoonists and composers so the soon-to-be viewer will be provided with endless entertainment combined in one small package.
“The magazine is supposed to mirror the contemporary art scene in Iceland and follow up on happenings. We’ll be interviewing artists visiting the country as well as talking to local artists and musicians and mixing new stuff with old and rare material”, Sigurður explains. “The first issue will, for example, contain new music videos from múm, GusGus, Rass and Ghostigital as well as a Jimi Tenor interview.” Tenor, a Finish musician and composer, visited Iceland in December and played a gig at 12 Tónar and Sirkus. “These are videos that would be hard to see elsewhere,” he adds.

The unique feature of DVD magazines, and a large reason why they’ve become so popular in recent years, is that the viewer will be able to see the interviewee and witness the actual conversation, hear the music played and experience the performances visually as they happened when performed on stage. With a simple click of the mouse they can move on to the next story, interview, video or whatever the disc might contain that they’re interested in viewing. DVD magazines can cover topics in an essentially different way than could ever be possible in the printed media.
This must be a welcoming opportunity for all the artists, designers and film-makers who need better promotion for their works than they have been getting so far. How have the responses been?

“We have gotten great responses from the people we’ve talked with and they like what we are doing,” Þórunn says. “This is a completely different platform for them to present their works and reach out to the public. Everyone has been more than ready to do endless work to help us out and contribute to the project. We’ve gotten some juicy stuff out of it,” she adds.

Witnessing the explosion of net-surfers in recent years who would rather push a play button than open up a newspaper, makes you wonder if DVD magazines will replace the print medium in the future.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say that DVD magazines will replace the printed magazines. This is rather a much needed addition to the written format, a new approach, so to say,” Þórunn says.

Bringing together artists from different disciplines, Rafskinna’s first issue is stuffed with intriguing material. In addition to the aforementioned music videos the issue will feature art works by Inga Birgisdóttir and Finnur Arnar, a Jimi Tenor short-film, unplugged performance by Skakkamanage, animation by Hugleikur Dagsson, a ten minute Nýtt Líf remix by Kristján Loðmfjörð and, last but not least, a cooking show where the celebrity chefs are members of the band Ghostigital.

The magazine’s format is a cardboard box that includes the DVD disc, a print edition with articles, interviews and written material as well as some other artistic and theme related accessories. In the first issue, the printed edition features an interview with Jimi Tenor, a fiction serial written by Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason from múm and comics by Tony Millionaire and Dr. Gunni. The cover, reflecting the first issue’s fish theme, was designed by Gunnar Þór Vilhjálmsson and Sigurður Eggertsson who are also responsible for the overall look.

“The package is an important part of the whole concept and we’re going to try to get different designers to design the look of each issue,” Þórunn explains. “We want to do so much more than just publish one DVD disc. We want the magazine to be a valuable package, worth preserving for a long time.”

Representing an impressive collection of creativity, only 500 to 1000 copies will be published per edition to begin with and the magazine will be sold in record stores, bookstores and some galleries and fashion shops in the city centre for the price of 1.990 ISK. It’s worth noting that the DVD will have English subtitles so all the non-Icelandic speakers fascinated with the country’s art and music scene can enjoy its contents as well.

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