Creating this sense of disorientation and lack of direction, as you can imagine, involved a fairly unsystematic production process. Explaining that there are no preliminary conversations with contributors, instead there is “a group of people who are almost all friends who just send us stuff – they don’t need advice”. And in some areas, the human element was dismissed entirely, with Richard sharing that more than half of the problem was solved using AI writing tools. “People seem much less interesting than machines,” says Richard, “a person has their own traumas and experiences, but AI is a composite that approximates many people’s neuroses, fears, memories, etc. It’s a great expression of collective consciousness – or at least a way to pluralize your own point of view.” So the team dismissed the idea of ”being a platform for different kinds of voices” and instead “reduced it to what is now, almost a single voice”.
To match this messy content, Richard favored an oversaturated and visually hectic aesthetic, applying some rather unorthodox methods along the way. “For about two months, I didn’t allow myself to delete anything,” he explains, deleting things instead, as opposed to completely deleting. “Not being able to reverse a bad decision created this lovely feeling of stacking and layers and layers. Things that were hidden, erased, but I love that they’re still there. Defined by its fragmented, fractured look, the visuals are defined by their initial complete misunderstanding.And, with this visual look, Richard wanted each page to be seen as a unique, self-contained image, which with each zoom in, you see something new.Perhaps the best simile visual when viewing the paper is it like a glimpse of someone very cluttered brain. Memory layered on top of memory, snapshots of a conversation, a dream (or nightmare) tucked away in a far corner, a lost to-do list somewhere in the middle of the chaos.
With an upcoming NTS show and one-time poster and sticker sales, there are plenty of shiny Civilization based content to watch – even if you have no idea what’s going on. Summarizing his thoughts on the matter, Richard frankly ends our conversation on number six: “it serves no function, it doesn’t inform, you can’t even really read it. But then I’m not really interested in doing anything useful. I want to make a dead end. A cul-de-sac.