Issue five of NXS has arrived, a black, white and neon orange explosion of glitchy investigations into the reality of virtuality. ‘Seeing is believing’ exclaims the introduction, before immediately disproving that idea – ‘in the digital age, human perception has become more and more relative’.
On opening the issue, several loose inserts fall out; the most engaging of which are augmented reality photoshoots printed at NXS’s trademark 145mm x 380mm. Within the context of NXS these prints are hardly anything unexpected, but a closer look reveals that they are in fact images taken using instagram filters.
The images are captioned with their online home – head to @nxs_world on instagram to test out ‘M1R97OL4’ (pictured), ‘GAMMA SUBSTANCE’ and ‘PARALLAX’.
NXS (pronounced ‘nexus’) is not so much a feast for the eyes as it is an enormous, glitching buffet of choice and misdirection. It’s not a magazine for idley flicking through: there is a logic that dictates how it ought to be read. This means that the content page (above) is more like an instruction manual, explaining that ‘With each contributor responding to a preceding submission, NXS World unfolds as a constellation of personal viewpoints, experiences and stories’
The result is an ongoing conversation in fonts that swell and dip, accessorised with titles that somehow glow, despite the greyscale. While I’d be unsurprised if the next issue came complete with paper 3D goggles in order to disrupt the standard reading experience, that kind of crude technology might be a bit old school for such a forward-thinking mag.
Issue five is themed ‘Virtual Vertigo’, and even if the contents didn’t respond to this theme, the design certainly does. For a monochrome magazine, it is a dizzying read with text printed at every possible angle – you’ll find yourself spinning the magazine horizontally to read a poem about social media bios, before turning it upside down to look at an illustration of digital pigeons pecking at a dismembered robotic arm. NB: perhaps reconsider reading this magazine in public if you’re a wallflower.
Its nonlinearity is crucial to its concept; on the publication’s website, NXS is described as a ‘collaborative research project’ rather than just a magazine. Incorporating a ‘network’ of contributors, its design is also deliberately reflective of the way the internet functions – flowing and growing in a way that defies the real-world laws of gravity (or traditional magazine design). While most mags prioritise clear design and can be opened and read at random, NXS makes little sense unless it’s read chronologically.
While I could write pages on NXS’s design, the contents are equally as fascinating. This issue ‘examines the challenges posed to the self by the digital extension of reality and its murky underbelly’. The responses to this theme vary from discussions about the Interplanetary File System to FaceTime’s ability to correct our gaze.
Issue five easily upholds NXS’s reputation as one of the most dynamic and form-challenging publications we stock here at magCulture. For those intrigued by all things internet, this is the magazine for you.
NXS are: Monika Grūzīte, Karolien Buurman and Florian Mecklenburg