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According to Anthony Hudek, “It is … Control’s function as a self-deter­mining infor­ma­tion network, instead of its content, that makes it truly cyber­netic”: while being about networks, the magazine also repre­sents a network in itself. Willats’ choice of title, Control, signals this depar­ture from tradi­tional models of edito­rial authority, seeking instead to develop a concep­tual practice deter­mined by the networked rela­tion­ships of coor­di­nating agents. Artists’ publishing served as a key means of actu­al­izing these ideas. The magazine has always been self-published, self-funded, and free of adver­tising, while also attaining a broadly inter­na­tional reach.

At that point we were thinking later­ally all the time. We were making lateral connec­tions between other disci­plines and other special­iza­tions. [H]ierar­chical soci­eties’ use knowl­edge as a means of power [rather than an] elev­a­tive mech­a­nism. We wanted to break that all down. We were talking about one-layer networks, the idea that infor­ma­tion was completely avail­able through a network.
One thing I would say, I expect you’re aware that cyber­netics sort of disap­peared from view, and as I explained a bit before, the engi­neers of this world quietly sort of took it over. I don’t know if you’re a McLuhanite or not, but if you look at the idea of the fabric of things containing ideology, that was what happened with the devel­op­ment of the PC. Cyber­netics almost got a bad name through its asso­ci­a­tion with military and deter­minism and repres­sion and so on. And I don’t know if you’re aware of its connec­tion with fascism. Person­ally, I was appalled.

The thing I wanted to say just before I close up, is that I did feel that there was a sort of fetishiza­tion of cyber­netics from a new gener­a­tion, a sort of nostalgia for some­thing that is gone. You see, it was just a modeling tool. It was a good modeling tool, but it wasn’t a perfect modeling tool, because it was a trans­duc­tion—you had to go down to go up. Cyber­netics let you take a complex struc­ture and make a simple representation.

Control: Publishing as cybernetic...

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