Press Play - Bebe Books

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Press Play is a spe­cu­la­ti­ve prin­ting ser­vi­ce co-ope­ra­ted by the con­sti­tu­ents of Bebe Books to explo­re the poten­ti­a­li­ty of queer pro­ces­ses of prin­ting. The col­lec­ti­ve pro­po­ses the open plat­form fea­tu­ring various print tech­ni­ques faci­li­ta­ted through dis­tri­bu­ted agen­cy and col­la­bo­ra­ti­ve labor.

Bebe Books reflects on the his­to­ry of grap­hic design and labor, whe­re the unques­ti­o­ned pur­s­uit of spec­ta­cu­lar prin­ted surfa­ces made the design wor­kers more pre­ca­rious. As a cri­ti­cal res­pon­se to pro­ble­ma­tics of the print cul­tu­re in the West, instru­men­ta­li­zed for the repro­duc­ti­on of nor­ma­ti­ve power, the copy sto­re brings atten­ti­on to slow, ana­chro­nis­tic, hack­ed, low-tech print tech­ni­ques. Furthermore, it expands the con­cept of publis­hing to inclu­de broa­der medi­ums such as rice coo­kers and cas­set­te tape recor­ders, reflec­ting the ety­mo­lo­gi­cal mea­ning of publis­hing” as to popu­la­te.” The use of unti­me­ly media” sug­gests a pos­si­bi­li­ty to break the chain of chro­n­o­nor­ma­ti­vi­ty, the end­less repe­ti­ti­on of the homo­ge­ni­zed mecha­ni­cal rhythm of a prin­ter that for­ces wor­kers’ bodies to con­form. 1

The diver­si­ty of tools avai­la­ble at Press Play accom­mo­da­tes the per­for­ma­ti­ve expe­ri­ment on dis­tri­bu­ted agen­cy of print pro­ces­ses. Each con­sti­tu­ent of Bebe Books will be held accoun­ta­ble for ope­ra­ting spe­ci­fic print tech­ni­ques, making pro­duc­ti­on a pro­cess of nego­ti­a­ti­on among the­se agents, akin to that of a live acti­on role-play game. The print hou­se, in this case, is a dia­gram, an abstract machi­ne, the map of rela­ti­ons bet­ween for­ces,” the dyna­mic, fluc­tu­a­ting pro­cess occur­ring bet­ween sta­tic struc­tu­res.” 2 Without rely­ing on sche­ma­ti­zed repre­sen­ta­ti­on, the dia­gram­ma­tic copy sto­re will be what the ope­ra­tors beco­me” through the play­ful ritual.

Participants invi­ted to Press Play will be encou­ra­ged to enga­ge with the faci­li­ty in all pos­si­ble ways. Even the most banal prints, name­ly tax invoi­ces and instruc­ti­on manu­als, could be eman­ci­pa­ted into this queer pro­cess. Their invol­ve­ment in the dia­gram will be medi­a­ted through the mock-up bank notes issued by Bebe Books. Through the intro­duc­ti­on of the fic­ti­o­nal cur­r­en­cy, the copy sto­re pro­po­ses diver­se eco­no­mic models and sys­tems of exchan­ge beyond consumerism.

Press Play website


1: Amit S. Rai, Untimely Media: Subversions of Obsolescence in Decolonial Print,” Radical Philosophy 2.13 (Autumn 2022): 77 – 87.

2: Jakub Zdebik, Deleuze and the Diagram: Aesthetic Threads in Visual Organization (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012).

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