Words with Megawords

by Andrew Losowsky in February 2010
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We didn’t just give Meatpaper to our lucky Stack America founder subscribers. We also gave them an issue of Megawords, an unusual and thoughtful consideration of the urban environment accompanied by site-specific events. This “non-commercial record of place and human experience” is based in Philadelphia, and is hard to come by outside the city of soft cheese and the Liberty Bell – unless you were a founder subscriber to Stack America.

Anthony Smyrksi of Smyrski Creative is the magazine’s creative director, and he tells us more about this unique project.

How did Megawords come into existence?
My collaborator Dan Murphy and myself had always been unsatisfied with the type of magazines we came across in stores. We both had backgrounds making zines, and it seemed clear that we needed to take things to the next level, so to speak. We knew that print had an innate power to communicate, and we felt that if we used it correctly and didn’t get too caught up in making a “professional” or “commercial” magazine, that we’d be able to use the format of the magazine to say something unique.

How is it distributed?
Megawords is independently distributed through a small network of bookshops, coffeeshops, galleries and the like, our subscriber list, through our site, and by people passing it on to friends and family.

Where do you gather the material from?
We have a small group of regular contributors, and we also generate many images ourselves. Others are found, and we also have a large archive of images. Often we’ll see something new we like, and we’ll draw a connection to an image that’s been sitting in the archive for some time. It’s great to see how the photos can interact with each other, and what we can say through their composition and juxtaposition.

What is the overall message of Megawords?
We want to document our surroundings, experience, to have a voice free from the noise of commercialization and competing novelties, and to create an open and active dialogue between Megawords and the community at large. We also want people to know that creating a publication is something that they too can do. You don’t need all that much money. You just need to devote a lot of your time and energy.

Tell us about the Megawords events that accompany the magazine.
We’ve done a number of things, the most prominent being the Megawords storefront. The project was a storefront exhibition that took place in September 2008. It included a month-long period of intense activity including permanent and rotating installations, guest speakers, musical performances, workshops and film screenings. We collaborated with dozens of renowned and unknown artists and thinkers to cover the world through words and pictures, and to make the pages of the magazine come to life.

We also used to do a weekly internet radio show, although we are on indefinite hiatus for now. Other events include site-specific installations, film-screenings, other book and publishing projects, and the occasional party.

What are your hopes for the future of Megawords? Would you take it to other places?
We’re currently redesigning and expanding our website and web presence now (forgive me in advance if you go to the site now, its in shambles), and would like to become more involved in filmmaking. We think its the next logical step. As far as taking it to other places, I think Megawords can exist anywhere. We’d love to come to your town if you’d have us!

If you could live in any city in the world, where would you live?

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