Crises in publishing, paper supply, reading, humanism, economics, architecture... have jeopardized books, magazines, newspapers, and the usual modes of passing on knowledge. It is no mirage: there is much less reading done now than before, and reading is done differently. The young search for knowledge not in printed media but in the always open, fluid channels of the web. So the past 15 years have seen an exhaustion of an entire sector, and the future of the traditional means of knowledge transmission seems dim.
But the digital deluge has not destroyed everything, and along with the persistent ship of the book market we can discern in the horizon not only the architectural arks that have kept afloat come hell or high water (this magazine is not the most rickety among them), but also brave new arks that have dared to sail off in stormy times. LC and Anima, two magazines of different nature, prove how inventiveness and love for work can keep editorial endeavors from sinking.
LC. Revue de recherches sur La Corbusier is an academic publication which does not altogether take on the gray stale formats of magazines produced in universities. Directed by Juan Calatrava and Jorge Torres with Arnaud Dercelles of the Fondation Le Corbusier, LC set sail in the pandemic year of 2020 to explore the work of the French-Swiss genius, a pursuit that has for some time been a small but inexhaustible industry. But besides its rigor and beauty, it has a broad intellectual reach, like L’Esprit Nouveau. It wishes to be not just a brainy bunch of papers, but a bulletin of wide-ranging views, disseminated in three languages. This makes Le Corbusier the best trigger for tackling the aesthetic of his times, and in part also that of our own.
The latest issue gathers essays on the master’s cosmopolitanism, his trip to Venice, the boîtes à miracles, L’Art décoratif d’aujourd’hui, and the centenary of Villa Le Lac, plus an interview about the ‘LC150+’ exhibition of models and book reviews by Quetglas, Moneo, and Maisonnier. The result is a diverse, alluring reflection of the editors’ desire to make every issue a precious Corbusian microcosm or maze.
Equally ambitious but removed from academic registers is Anima, which seeks to take stock not so much of architecture in the strict sense, but of ‘design’ in the Anglo view. It is headed jointly by Dan Crowe and Deyan Sudjic, although in this first issue the protagonism of the latter – former director of the Design Museum, expert on Norman Foster – is strong, with the main texts written by him. The content shows the predictable variety of a magazine that covers everything from the earliest caves inhabited by humans in Australia to contemporary Milanese design, passing through the legacy of Olivetti, the Foster show at the Pompidou, and what it nowadays means to design and build a museum, all with an elegant layout and exquisite selection of images.
Traditional publishing may be a thing of the past. But LC and Anima suggest that those things made of paper which some said were doomed to die might still have a life in store for them.