• Counter-Signals 3: (All the Way) Down with Platforms
    Jack Henrie Fisher and Alan Smart
    Other Forms, 2018
    Other Forms:
    Jack Henrie Fisher &
    Alan Smart

Texas Tower 4, 1960. One of a series of off-shore early warning radar platforms based on the model of floating oil derricks. In the construction of the hemispheric-scale infrastructure of surveillance, simulation, and cybernetic feedback, forms of integrated power and control systems can be seen to interpenetrate and rhyme with one another. Courtesy of NOAA's Historic Coast & Geodetic Survey (C&GS) Collection.

All platforms are designed and all design operates within and upon the platforms that support it, define it, pose its problems, and establish its criteria for success. The third issue of Counter-Signals is dedicated to platforms. It collects the stories of the system builders and visionary vectoralists, the wardens of these prisons and the barons of these railroads, as well as of the screws that pace their catwalks, their switchmen and engineers, the inmates digging tunnels underneath them, and the hobos who ride its rails and mark its rolling stock with their own wild system of signs. Platforms—from politics to software to architecture to exchange markets—dictate the conditions of what is and what is possible. However "invisibly" these platforms do their work, they are most significantly “made” and therefore it is always possible to imagine them unmade or made differently.

Jack Henrie Fisher is a graphic designer, writer, and publisher whose work makes interventions in conditions of reading and writing across a spectrum of technologies and platforms. His recent projects have investigated, with a variety of interlocutors, the shifting senses of language as a technologically and politically mediated material. Currently a partner in Other Forms, an office for design and publishing, and an assistant professor of design at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Fisher previously worked as a design researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, the Netherlands and as a designer at Bruce Mau Design in Chicago. Fisher edits and designs the extra-disciplinary multi-form design journal Counter-Signals, and coedits Dum Ditty Dum, a blog and pamphlet series about the constitutional intersections of writing and rock music. He also writes, slowly, about the aesthetic entanglements of the book form with its political and economic modes of production.

Alan Smart is an architect, researcher, and critic. He is currently a PhD candidate in art history at the University of Illinois Chicago, developing a project on performance and other "non-object" art practices in relation to urban space, and issues of production and reproduction in the city. He has studied architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and at Princeton University and has taught at Syracuse University, Ohio State University, Hong Kong University and in the design department at the Sandberg Institute and been a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie. He has worked for architectural practices including Diller Scofidio + Renfro and currently practices independently and as part of the design collective Other Forms working between architecture, graphic design, and publishing.