Amsterdam’s NXS can’t be accused of not standing out on the shelves – the tall, thin format is always complimented by its idiosyncratic neon covers. The title changes size but it would be hard not to see the continuum of the magazine’s four-issue run so far if you laid them all together.
This issue, themed ‘Algorithmic Anxiety’, continues the magazine’s ongoing investigation into the nexus of technology and ourselves (NXS is pronounced ‘nexus’, and each contribution responds to the previous one). The cover and the graphics throughout are seemingly chaotic scatterings of code – a glitch-aesthetic that at times looks like a breakdown of the human genome, and at others a broken world map. The predominantly black and white contents are broken up only by a centrefold with photography by Avoidstreet and Veronika Vidø (above), characterising futuristic fashion with plenty of lime green and lycra.
Beginning with drilling down into what exactly an algorithm is, and does, the first contributor Nishant Shah busts the myths that algorithms are neutral, efficient, rational, virtual and extensive. Once that tone is set, the magazine is free to explore more specific examples, including visually stimulated software manipulation by artist Coralie Vogelaar (above), or Tarot readings by Sabrina Scott.
Perhaps the piece that responds to the theme most effectively is ‘Not a being as such’ by Wesley Goatley (above), which seems to embody the unsettling feeling of anxiety that that thinking too much about the power that language and visuals has over the way that we perceive algorithms.
The issue is very specific in its theme and as such all the contributors are broadly in agreement in their cynicism. This risks a rather one-note publication, but with the inclusion of plenty of imagery that happily embraces a sci-fi aesthetic (above) and some creative writing to break up the essays, the magazine manages to be informative as well as offering an overview on the burgeoning field of art and design that takes inspiration from technology and data.
Editors: Karolien Buurman, Monika Grazite, Florian Mecklenburg
Graphic design and art direction: Goys & Birls