Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Continuing the theme of My Zine Man in Japan (that is, happily flogging Gianni Simone’s many zine projects), this week I review his other self publishing nugget, Kairan (issues 14 and 15) which covers the history of photocopier art, most commonly known amongst zinesters as xerography.

Issue 14: Xerography 1938 – 2008, Vol. 1 is, more or less, a reproduction of an article, Copy Art: Some Preliminary Notes on Technique, by Reed Altemus. The issue opens with a forward by Gianni bemoaning the fact that the zinester’s right to mess with machines has been boycotted by technology. Older photocopiers possessed shortcomings which worked to the zinester’s advantage when experimenting with xerography. The new generation of copiers, such as those found in Officeworks, doesn’t allow the zinester to play the same ‘tricks’. It’s these ‘tricks’ which Altemus covers in his article. And what an education in copy art techniques it is.

Altemus covers methods such as collage, degeneration, overprinting, and one that I will be experimenting with for the next cover of Astrobabble, copy motion. This is the (seemingly) simple technique of moving material to be copied during the scanning process to create a motion effect. Kairan is littered with examples of copy motion and other techniques by various copier artists and zinesters. Altemus praises Belgian born copy artist, Lieve Prins, as being one of the pioneers of copy art. Check out her handy work at Impressive stuff.

Issue 15: Xerography 1938 – 2008, Vol. 2 contains articles by John A Walker, Klaus Urbons, and John Held Jr who cover the historical, social, and technical aspects of copier and mail art. Like issue 14, it has a generous supply of copy art examples. I find both issues educational and overwhelming. I now realise that the hard work is ahead of me.

Kairan can be purchased or traded by contacting Gianni through his blogs Gloomy Sundays at and A Man Called Horse at

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