I recently purchased a 1969 copy of Life magazine. It was a double issue and the topic was a general retrospective look at the 60s. It was interesting to see how much everything has changed (I think the most interesting thing was an ad for the “new educational television show” Sesame Street), as well as to see how people in 1969 felt about the things that were going on at that time. It is hard to find unbiased history without going straight to the source.
I think it is perhaps even more interesting to look at a magazine that comes straight from 1914. The BLAST magazine starts out with what is basically a mission statement (which is pretty intense). The line, “We need the unconsciousness of humanity—their stupidity, animalism and dreams,” is interesting, because it suggests the idea that art is based on human foibles, but also on human hope. Although these would seem to be two very different concepts, I think they could be related, because human hope tends to be based on desiring to overcome human foibles. The opening ends with the statement, “We want those simple and great people found everywhere. Blast presents an art of individuals.” This is interesting, because I would imagine that prior to this time there was very little focus on individualism, and it certainly was not considered a good thing to stand out from the crowd.
The magazine then goes into a manifesto. The way the manifesto is structured, aesthetically, is interesting, because the fonts of different sizes resemble something you might find on Tumblr or Pinterest today. The parts of the manifesto that start with “Blast” seem to maybe require some insider knowledge (I thought they were confusing). However once it has switched to “Bless” it gets a lot clearer. The basic concept of “Bless Englishmen” and “Bless English Humour” makes sense to me (although I’m not sure why you would “Bless France” [can’t decide if it is sarcastic]).
It is interesting that the art in “Blast” is abstract. It seems to be indicative of a time period in which people were just learning how to express individuality. I think this goes hand-in-hand with the way the manifesto is structured (in that the words are different sizes, and sort of weirdly arranged) because, again, this seems to be indicative of an expression of individuality, of going against the norm. Much like looking at a 1969 copy of Life, looking at a 1914 copy of BLAST gives a much greater insight into the culture and thought processes of the time, than does just reading about it.