Welcome to Enter, the pre-publication issue of Sandbox.
Before we roll out proper with our first volume, Copy, we’ve put together this demo issue to convey what it is we hope to achieve, and to hopefully garner an engaged cabal of writers, artists, stockists and general apologists who believe in what we’re doing.
This is probably an appropriate juncture at which to point out that we know almost nothing about actual VR technology. I mean, there’s every chance we’ll write about Lawnmower Man, quote Jaron Lanier, superficially namedrop the Oculus Rift—but by positioning Sandbox as a ‘Journal for Virtual Realities’ we’re really looking to highlight the varied and inclusive alternate realities of which our everyday world is made.
You’re on the train: the people around you, each in their separate seats, check their phones, browse the web, watch movies, play games. Someone’s reading a book. Headphones on and listening to music, someone else is staring out the window, watching other people going about their business, thinking about the future or remembering the past. Ads are all around you. There’s a map on the carriage wall. You get to the station, navigate your way out, and go to work, as part of a company, inputting onto a computer screen in exchange for money, to pay your rent or mortgage and substantiate your leisure time.
Virtual realities (in that inclusive sense) aren’t the exception: they’re the norm. They permeate our lives, practically speaking, and define how we think. So we figure a no-budget curiosity journal on the subject would be interesting and pertinent – or, at least, an enjoyably preposterous way of wasting our already-beleaguered free time and personal finances.
Primarily we’ll be looking at screen media, semiotics and science fiction—how experience is mediated, how we engage with technology and ideas, how things are represented in fiction and in fact, and what that signifies. How that esoteric-sounding ballpark actually manifests in, for example, our Enter pre-issue, includes a discussion of pipes in video games, a loose history of cats in boxes, the electric chair, Choose Your Own Adventure novels, and vortexes in 1990s TV science fiction.
Our approach is one of curiosity, of oblique approaches to overlooked subjects, or unorthodox ways of looking at naturalised notions. Freewheeling as a thought experiment and oscillating momentarily between 200% earnest and a big joke, our, ahem, ‘post-academic’ way of seeing is as much a part of the journal as the subjects themselves.
Our zero issue, Enter, speaks to the liminal state of entrance—of passing into, plugging in, of processions, doors and portals, other worlds and boxes. Then we’re putting together the first full issue, Copy—critical theoretical interpretations of reproduction alternately latticed with evil twin films, puppets, mirrors, clones; from emulation to simulation, from ‘William Wilson’ to Single White Female, we figured it was a suitably askance subject for a first foray.
Subsequent volumes are intended to have themes such as Memory, Cloud, Collect, Micro, Play, Colour—you get the idea. Each issue prints a selection of content with more available on our website. Once the paper issues sell out, said content goes online.
So, should you want to immerse yourself in speculative non-fiction or simply keep abreast with our progress and/or inevitable demise, do check out www.sandboxjournal.net and follow us on Twitter @sandboxjournal
Editor, Sandbox Journal for Virtual Realities