The People’s Gallery: A Look at the Bogside Artists

On Rossville Street in the Bogside area of Derry stands a unique set of twelve large-scale murals that have attracted global attention for their themes of violence, peace and unity. The gigantic artworks are a portrayal of the brutality that the Bogside area has witnessed — called the Troubles — and the three artists who produced the wall-paintings are brothers Tom and William Kelly (who sadly passed away in January 2017), and their friend Kevin Hassan.

The first mural, called Petrol Bomber, was painted on a three story maisonette building in 1994. The massive black and white image shows a young boy in a gas mask, trying to protect himself against CS gas as he holds a petrol bomb in a scene from the Battle of the Bogside, which took place in August 1969.…   [continue reading]

Issue #2: Breath: General Updates and News #3

You can pre-order a physical copy of Issue #2: Breath here!

The next three weeks represent our final push before we publish Issue #2: Breath. Benjamin and I have been doing all we can in the background to make this zine special. We’ve worked hard to give our excellent submissions the formats they deserve, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.

However, we originally planned for a 2nd of April release date. Due to a number of circumstances, there will likely be a fortnight’s delay. The issue will still print in April, but we need the extra days in order to perfect the product. …   [continue reading]

Issue #2: Breath: General Updates and News #2

You can find some more background on Issue #2: Breath here!

Since posts have definitely been slower here this year, I feel it’s only fair that we show why. We stated our heavier concentration on Issue #2: Breath in this previous post. But, with so much going on in the background, it’s about time we gave an update.

Several contributions have already come in, and received full page formats from Benjamin and I. Neither of us can believe the quality of submissions this time around, and we’ve tried to live up to that with our designs. Last week, we worked on a three-page spread exploring the art of Katrine Claassens.…   [continue reading]

Steamed Hams?: How Communities Shape Their Memes

How are memes born? While there’s no set answer to such a wide question, there are some interesting trends to consider. A cursory glance through the archives of Know Your Meme proves that anything’s game.

For instance, stolen footage of home video embarrassment ranks among the earliest memes. In fact, such examples predate the internet with terrible shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos. Years after its televisual popularity, the same mean-spirited instinct becomes meme with the Star Wars Kid and his cohorts.

Of course, not all viral videos or images are entirely accidental. Accidents, after all, can be contrived. Corporations have gone to great lengths to capture the magic of memes for marketing, even if it includes trying to sell shoes by having Kobe Bryant pretend to jump over an Aston Martin.…   [continue reading]

Issue #2: Breath: General Updates and News

This year at Secret Cave, we’re changing our pace somewhat. Following the release of our first zine last year, we’ve already started work on a second issue. It’s important to us that Issue #2: Breath is an improvement in every possible way on our original venture. As such, certain elements of our output are likely to slow down until our estimated release date in April.

In no way does that mean our domain content will stop. In fact, Benjamin and I already have numerous drafts that we’re working on. However, we have made our next zine a conscious priority. Unfortunately, this is likely to have an impact on the amount of posts here.…   [continue reading]

Written in Stone, When All Stones Erode

Often, we think of an artwork as absolute. Picasso’s work, for example, is simply Picasso’s work — unchanged over time. We’re aware that a digital JPEG of a painting will lose all of its tangible resonance, such as its finer brushstrokes. Yet, we still consider it to be a fair representation of an essential absolute. Those with a passing interest in art may even have some peripheral sense that a long life would naturally degrade the brilliance of a piece. But, outside of the exclusive world of art criticism and appreciation, it’s rare for us to consider the ways that an individual expression can evolve.…   [continue reading]

The Work of Art in the Age of Microsoft Paint

This article is a re-formatted extract from Issue #1: Birth, which you can read more about here.

As Microsoft throws Paint into the digital wasteland with the rest of the internet’s abandonware, it’s hard not to get nostalgic about the simple graphical editor that influenced the “shit is good” aesthetic of the early 2000s internet. Its influence on internet culture is huge, with obvious examples being rage comics, stoner comics, and any image macro with awkwardly superimposed text and graphics.

Digital art that looked like shit started out as a necessity, yet slowly became a preference. Even today’s memes hark back to the days where the best material was thrown together on Paint in a matter of minutes.…   [continue reading]

Exploring Power and Public Social Spaces; Why The Network Isn’t New

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

Thomas Jefferson can’t be blamed for not getting excited by historical materialism, given that he preceded its inception, but an optimism for the future doesn’t require a rejection of the past.

The past is not a static entity. The past can be re-imagined and reinterpreted much as the present can experience the same. The past can teach us new things about itself, the present, and the future. Equally, the present can help us re-understand the past. We can create a knowledge loop where each informs each other.…   [continue reading]

Decentralized Social Media and The Fragmentation of Control

The architecture of a social network doesn’t just affect a bunch of invisible server-whirrings and documentation jargon. It’s directly responsible for how the network’s users interact — what they’re allowed to say, what they’re likely to see, and who controls these factors.

A good example to start my examination into centralized/decentralized social networks is Twitter.

The name “Twitter” and the platform’s relentless bird imagery isn’t an arbitrary choice — it actually makes a lot of sense with regard to how the network works.

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Starlings, for example, flock in groups of 10,000 or more, unified and communicating as a network. Birds learn to sing by listening and imitating, which often means that groups of co-existing birds learn the same patterns, inflections, and memes.…   [continue reading]

Blood on the Goban: Exploring the Myths of an Ancient Art

This article is a re-formatted extract from Issue #1: Birth, which you can read more about here.

Go, in its impenetrable elegance, is quite possibly the oldest board game that still sees widespread play. A product of ancient China, its popularity in East Asia far surpasses that of chess. In comparison, I’ve heard Go’s complexity equated with that of a war; opposing the self-contained battles fought on a chessboard. Though exaggerated, there’s some truth to that analogy, which has helped Go to maintain its appeal for over twenty-five centuries. In fact, it was once considered a founding art of the Chinese aristocracy.…   [continue reading]