Art & Design

What Is DIS? Going Where No Magazine Has Gone Before

Art & Design

What Is DIS? Going Where No Magazine Has Gone Before


What is DIS? This is a question I know has been asked before. It is a question that cannot not occur to anyone gazing upon, for the first time, the fashion/art/internet platform that is

DIS is a website. DIS is a magazine, i.e. “A periodical publication containing articles and illustrations, typically covering a particular subject.” DIS covers fashion, art, music, politics, and the media at large.

DIS looks like the future.

DIS used to crash my browser when I was operating a 2006 MacBook.

DIS should have been hired as art director and costume designer for the Hunger Games movie adaptation. Socks with sandalsSustainable Bling. Los Angeles Mallrats. This is their aesthetic.

DIS is the purveyor of the greatest “best and worst” runway reviews of all time. (On Emporio Armani SS ‘13 menswear: “The Emporio Euro-psycho takes a vacation from Wall Street to St. Barth’s, where he imbibes too much cocaine, passes out on a chaise lounge, and wakes up missing his shirt. It’s so realistic: luxury daytime-drinking date-rapewear. Armani has created the perfect pec-exposing shirts for spring, a true innovation in a moment where nothing is new.”)

DIS publishes discourse-heavy essays on topics like, most recently, “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs: Cuckolding in porn and the colonial biopolitics behind it” by Mark Pieterson, and, “Migrating Forms: The Gitana Xula: On the hyperbolic, hyperlinked pop-folk styles of Spain’s Romani people,” by Ryan Weafer.

DIS describes itself as, “a fashion, art, and commerce publication that seeks to expand creative economies.”

DIS says, “DIS does not distinguish between disciplines nor conform to aesthetic value systems. DIS explores the banality and novelty of product and image making.”

DIS is a collaborative effort, a passion project. I heard one called it a “vanity project” disdainfully, as if that was a bad thing. (Wasn’t Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp’s Rrose Salvy 1921 a vanity project? Wasn’t early ‘80s Details a vanity project? Wasn’t the Silver Factory a factory for vanity projects?)

DIS is avant garde in a time when it’s impossible to say “avant garde” unironically.

DIS, as an avant garde (obtuse, innovative, influential), is deserving of DIScourse.

And so I asked this question—What is DIS?—to anyone who would answer: insiders, outsiders, old fans, and new eyes.

DIS has more detractors than are represented here. I’ve heard their voices in the air but few would lend a comment in the permanence of the letterform.

DIS is what the people are saying (DIS lends itself to pun and language play.):

“DIS is a wormhole to harness in surviving the illusion that traditional powers are still in tact.”
—Alaina Claire Feldman, writer and curator.

“DIS is a multi-culti platform for creative solutions. Promoting unsafe style is a lifestyle.”
Fatima Al Qadiri, artist, musician, DIS Contributing Editor.

“DIS is a celebration of post-contemporary technological devolution, a deluge of critically inverted digital label-whoring detritus birthed from a taupe nylon drawstring backpack worn by a candy raver from San Jose.”
A.K. Burns, artist, activist, teacher, co-producer, and DIS affiliate

“I don’t know what that is. Is it DIS:?”
–Roberto D’Andrea, Montreal-based localized theoretician.

“DIS magazine is a cultural reparations racket where the low gives back to the high and vice versa. When multiple parties perpetually exchange values so quickly it makes sense that they just end up staying in the same room, like a frenzied crowd of amphetamine-fueled stock traders gesticulating at each other with the glow of their Blackberries long after the floor’s lights have been turned off.”
Brad Troemel, artist and DIS contributor.

“DIS is an audio visual xperience. As far as contemporary music consumption goes, their mixes come closest to the satisfying synaesthetic experience of an album and its packaging. Even when you download the track itself, the visuals remain virtually attached to the sound. And for AV’s right now, virtual is better than actual.”
–Will Orr, MArch, writer of theory, musician/mixer.

“DIStemper. My brain can’t deal with the ADD of cluttered images and text and in-textual references. I’m DISengaged from the bits and bytes of DIS.”
–Leslie Shade, Ph.D. Communications Studies, research interests:  internet, gender, feminist(isms), policy, media reform, youth, and political economy.

“DIS is a live, functioning embodiment of the shifting mentalities that are making today’s world expansively complex. They are inventors providing fluid platforms for new cultural code and perspective. Dis is changing the shape of original programing, and has successfully collapsed the structures that have informed the way most media has be generated and shared.”
Ryan Trecartin, artist and DIS contributor.

“DIS is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images… The consciousness of desire and the desire for consciousness are identically the project which, in its negative form, seeks the abolition of classes, the workers’ direct possession of every aspect of their activity. It’s opposite is DIS, where the commodity contemplates itself in a world it has created.”
–Chris Kasper, New York-based artist and writer, DIS affiliate.

“D’ripped hot irony orthogonally discoupled onto chilled identity politics???”
–Ian Duncan, this author’s father, web engineer, art school dropout.

“ is too interesting, reaches too many people and is too influential to be an art project. Entirely rooted in the present, DIS is ground zero for the future of online publications about art, culture, fashion, music, design, etc. A total reboot/refresh of the form. DIS takes ‘the convergence of art, culture, fashion, music, design, etc.’ and rescues this goal from the undead 2006 zombie clutches of Deitch Projects.”
Josh Kline, New York-based artist, DIS affiliate.

“In a word: discordant. Trying to do too many things at one time creating discord in my head.  Didn’t like navigating the site found many of the design-y pieces boring and insipid.  That said along with that was some useful stuff like WAGE – but it’s too hard to sort through all the other stuff to find what actually shows some serious intelligence at work. It needs to decide what it is and do it rather than a little of dis and a little of dat or too much dis and not enough dat.”

“I think DIS basically represents a kind of 21st century end game of counterculture. That is—it doesn’t counter culture: it totally embraces the mainstream. Not at all in an ironic way, but in an exaggerated way. A reified way. It picks up on a kind of overcode which runs between corporate culture, the body industry, mass-market apparel, retail environments, pop-culture, social networks etc. It’s an aesthetic that is already there but is somehow obscene, in excess to the intentions of both their authors and their objectives… I don’t really think Home Depot wants anyone to love them quite so much.

It’s much better than growing a turn-of-the-century mustache and throwing your Ipad in the ocean so that you can experience the NOW. This is the now. The message is that there is no alternative. No alternative music, alternative culture or epoch—and in fact there isn’t—which makes DIS in the end a kind of cultural critique. They love everything, are generally the best-dressed people in the city with the most relevant magazine and their finger most squarely on ‘the pulse—and no showrooms will give them clothes.”
Babak Radboy, art director of upcoming DIS book, co-president of Shanzhai Biennial, creative director of Bidoun Projects.