While I think it is appealing to say that BLAST is highly revolutionary in its form, and that is probably true, it seems to me that the actual content of BLAST itself is both more subversive and important to the goal of the magazine. BLAST appears to be occupied with the deconstruction of the class divide and an emerging focus on the individuals. BLAST states upfront that it seeks to appeal to “the fundamental and popular instincts in every class and description of people” (7). Furthermore, it asserts that “art has nothing to do with the coat you wear” (8). In the context of this course in particular, this is thematically dissonant from preceding British work that made its goal the restructuring of society (usually targeted at one group in particular). For example, Arnold and Engles want to restructure the working class and their interaction with the rest of the society. Antithetically, BLAST does not want to restructure society, but paint it for the individual’s eyes. Their “blasts” and “blesses” are not lofty, but relatable to the everyman to whom they are addressing. The blessing of the hairdresser in particular comes to time as something that anyone has experience with. The revolutionary aspect of BLAST is its catering to the individual, not to the class structure.
Blast is vey unique in the way that it delivers its’ content, yet what was most noticeable was the way it was visually written. In particular, the font size and how the capitalization emphasizes the contradiction of the original definition of the words express the importance of the writer’s message. In the beginning of “Long Live the Vortex,” phrases such as “Reality of the Present,” “Humanity,” and “the Interpreter and Seer” are delivered in a way to express the messy and violent nature of a vortex. The capital letters in Reality and Present make it a contradiction between the two words, promoting the construction of how we link any experience into reality to give it a living. It is mocking the present time and how unreal it is because of the current circumstances of England, and how people seem to lose touch with comprehension. This is similar with the world “Humanity,” and making it seem as if humanity itself is being ridiculed for how much it has disregard the idea of individuality and uniqueness. Lastly, words Interpreter and Seer are very impactful in this section due to the fact that it expresses the essential purpose of individuality and raw human emotion. It is difficult to describe and illustrate raw emotions, yet it still should not be praised based on the objects it is presented on, but by the people who created and inspect the art instead. Those people are the only ones who will understand and be able to feel the raw emotions, not materialistic objects that others use to rely on. The magazine is revolutionary in how it tries to break away from old traditions yet still has classical influences to promote its’ message.
The content for Blast is the most revolutionary. The content reflects a movement that is a response to another movement; specifically one against new technology and conformity. However, the approach is revolutionary. The page set up and design layout reflect their content perfectly: it is a series of idiosyncratic, self observant, contradictions. The purpose of the magazine is to be “Beyond Action or Reaction”(Blast 31), yet allude to the fact that “Naturalists, Impressionists, or Futurists…depend on the appearance of the world for…art”(Blast 7)–a reaction. They also claim to be “NO-MAN’s” “Cause”(Blast 31), yet consistently allude to current events at the time and “ENGLAND’S history” and state of artistry (Blast 37). These series of contradictions fuel a type of vortex, and at its center is the magazine. This perfectly embodies a movement that is trying to champion the individual, but still requiring unity, and trying to push for self-fueled art, but is at the crux of political turmoil. While many movements in the past have had contradictions create beautiful art, none of them have ever relied on contradictions to produce art. That’s what makes it revolutionary.
Both the content and technique of BLAST are revolutionary. The graphics of the magazine are certainly abnormal for the era; rather than focus merely on getting the information on the page, the designers of the magazine used different fonts and sizes to emphasize certain words. The industrial revolution’s innovations in regards to printing certainly aided in the decision of the designers to attempt something so revolutionary. As more became possible with printing, the people composing BLAST decided to take advantage of opportunities unavailable to past magazines by experimenting with graphics.
The content of BLAST was just as revolutionary as the design. “We do not want to change to appearance of the world, because we are not Naturalists, Impressionists, or Futurists … and do not depend on the appearance of the world for our art” (BLAST 7). Essentially, they say that they do not mind if their works have no significant impact on the world; they do not allow the world to influence their works, either. This sentiment seems revolutionary in that most, to this point, would create works which were either based in reality or aimed at affecting reality; their aim seemed to be to do neither.
BLAST was revolutionary in it’s content and form. Because this article was published two weeks prior to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, it is entirely possible that they predicted it in full. The way in which this article is written reminds me a lot of satire. There are a lot of phrases throughout this article that are capitalized for dramatic effect. The fact that phrases such as, “WE NEED THE UNCONSCIOUSNESS OF HUMANITY” and “WE ONLY WANT THE WORLD TO LIVE….and to feel it’s crude energy flowing through us” are capitalized speaks volumes. During this time, in which this article was written (in the mid-900’s), WW1 was just getting started and a lot of people were terrified of speaking out in opposition to their governments. However, WW1 brought out the best inventing minds of the century. More was done technologically and economically during this time then ever before. Part of this, I believe, is because of article’s like BLAST, which challenge the traditional beliefs of those of higher power and question what we value in our daily lives. BLAST’s content is revolutionary because it makes everyone question what they believe is important in life.
While both the content and technique of BLAST are revolutionary, I think the content of Blast is more revolutionary. The physical features such as the graphics and typography are already quite revolutionary, considering there was nothing similar to this design that had been published before. It was very dramatic and draws the reader in right away. They also used the words “Blast” and “Bless” instead of the typical love it or hate it type of lists. On page 31 of blast I noticed how they have somewhat of a desire to “stir up civil war among peaceful apes,” it also states on the previous page their intention of establishing themselves as “beyond action and reaction.” I think these statements are still relatable today, which if they’re relatable nowadays then they must have been quite revolutionary then as well. There are offensive manifestos, sarcastic as well, which makes it enjoyable to read because I feel like a lot of people felt this way but just never really had the courage to do what this team did. It was revolutionary, yet needed to be written.
Certainly, BLAST was revolutionary in terms of its form. For example, as far as I can tell, BLAST was a pioneer in popularizing the sans-seriff typeface– and while it is easy to read today, I’m sure it was difficult for Victorian readers so inundated with seriff typfaces to read it nearly as easily as we do today. I think this helped “demoticize” literature as a whole. Common people probably wrote without seriffs for the sake of convenience; any publication using seriff typefaces probably did so to encourage the reader to infer a sense of intellectual sophistication and authority. BLAST made sure to abandon any such false pretensions, opting for a more honest approach to connect with and the gain the trust of its audience.
That being said, I think BLAST had even more to offer in terms of its relentlessly irreverent content. Much of British literature’s Victorian output, explicitly and otherwise, generally valued rationality, “high art,” and British supremacism. Meanwhile, BLAST valued man’s “stupidity, animalism, and dreams.” It’s Manifesto made sure to mention that “No great ENGLISH Art need be ashamed to share some glory with France, tomorrow it may be with Germany.”