I can’t overstate how excited I was to see the graphic icon incorporated into the logo created by the design firm Strick&Williams for The Log Journal, our new journalism initiative at National Sawdust. The symbol – a whorl of tree rings subtly morphing into sound waves that radiate outward – is intrinsically cool, no question. That subtle stroke of visual craft also perfectly captured the playfulness I had in mind when I chose “Log” as the key word for our venture.
It’s no great stretch of the imagination to trace the thread backward from a venue called National Sawdust to a journal called Log. A big part of the idea here, after all, is to reveal the raw material behind works that artists construct, refine, and present in the venue.
But what I really latched onto was the range of play implicit in the word, thanks to its proximity to the common, versatile root “logos,” Greek for “word.” Every day we log in to computers and log on to networks. We might keep a log of our daily activities (see also: blog, vlog), delivering a monologue in pixels or forming a dialogue with images and sounds.
Thus: Log, which became “The Log,” and then finally The Log Journal, in order to maximize visibility.
One of our aims here is to provide a platform for stories about artists, what they’re doing, where they’re doing it, and what the thinking is behind the works they’re creating. We want to provide artists a place in which to sound off on all aspects of engaging in a creative life, and in which to discuss topics of mutual interest with other artists while the rest of us listen in.
Throughout October you’ll see a sequence of four essays labelled “Variations,” each written by an individual involved in some sector of the artistic world, reflecting on some aspect of the term “community” – a word very much on our minds as we’ve conceived and framed the Log mission – starting with Allan Kozinn, the highly regarded music journalist best known for his long and distinguished tenure at The New York Times. In November we’ll offer perspectives on another broad term with manifold implications: politics. We’ll continue to examine multiple takes on common topics in months to come.
But community isn’t limited to just those four Variations stories. The idea that artists and journalists inhabit a common ecosystem is explicit in my own conversation with Paola Prestini, executive and creative director of National Sawdust, in which we reveal some of the motivations behind this new journal. And celebrating, reinforcing, and building community is at the core of Chicago’s new Ear Taxi Festival, the subject of a conversation between founder Augusta Read Thomas and Doyle Armbrust, a busy Chicago arts journalist and an even busier violist participating in the festival.
Under the banner of “Perspectives” you’ll find even more examples of our extended community, in responses we’ve commissioned for National Sawdust events and in reviews of performances and recordings by creators and performers we admire, across the street and around the globe.
We’ve begun with a small handful of writers, but as we build up steam we intend to provide a platform for a variety of voices – emerging and established, seasoned and fresh. And we’re especially keen to give artists a place to have a say, not just in interviews but in personal essays. So whether you’re a writer with a burning idea or an artist with something to discuss, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
Director of publications, National Sawdust
Steve Smith can be reached at email@example.com.