August 25, 2022

ZAP the Media Arts + Practice Club Presents: BONDS the MAPazine

By Hugh Hart

The opening text in the debut issue of the ZAP zine, titled Bonds, introduces a "story about youth, kindness, energy and hope." From there, the zine sustains a largely buoyant tone complete with bubbly-shaped fonts and rainbow-colored doodles. Media Arts + Practice students Cole Slater, Abby Chen, Tina Shi, Quan Pham, and Karen Abe helped create and launch the publication and its affiliated ZAP club this spring, says, "The most important thing about the vibe for our zine was that it's supposed to be fun and enjoyable." 

The purpose of this organization is to act as a communal space for Media Arts and Practice majors and minors to collaborate on projects together and foster a stronger community within the program.

To that end, the ZAP zine, overseen by a five-person "Z Board" and advisor Sonia Seetharaman in conjunction with a non-hierarchically organized student group, collects wildly varied pieces of media including poems, photographs, fashion spreads, illustrations, links to short films and hard-to-classify fare. Contributor Katie Luo, for example, documented her 24-hour self-streaming adventure on Twitch, while Kevin Yin showed off "cyanotype" images imprinted on his shirt with light from the sun. 

Slater, whose own interests include experimental filmmaking and 3D animation, checked in with SCA News to shed some light on the ZAP zine backstory. 

What inspired the creation of Bonds?

A lot of zines and magazines and zines on campus take themselves extremely seriously. ZAP as an organization came from taking a look at the typical club structures seen in USC organiations.  In order to be an e-board member you had to be there for years and go through blood, sweat, and tears to prove yourself. That's one way to go about a club structure but we wanted to throw that all out the window.

So how did you figure out this alternative model?  

The idea for ZAP is that if you major or minor in Media Arts + Practice, we want to see your work. We want you to come spend time with us at our meetings on a weekly basis and we want our magazine to be whatever helps you as an artist. In our first issue, some artists took that to mean they could do some healing through their work and what they showed in the zine, whereas other artists really leaned into the fun. 

Many pieces in ZAP include scannable QR codes that enable readers to watch work online. Why?

One of our goals in making this zine is that we're trying to re-invent what a magazine looks like. When you think about a digital arts major, the first thing that comes to mind is,"How can you put that in a magazine? If it's a movie or an animation, how does that work?" So we decided to lean into the different QR codes as a way of transcending what a normal magazine looks like by showing how you can display visual art on a still piece of paper.

Amid an increasingly virtual world, do you and your ZAP crew enjoy celebrating analog connections?

We could have made a website and that would probably have been technically easier to present the work. But we all missed this in-person thing. We were starved for it, which is why we created a real magazine you can hold, and that's why we went together to Six Flags Magic Mountain over spring break as well as various other bonding activities. We love doing things in the real world in the physical realm.  ZAP is so much more than just a place to create art.  It is a place to find community and friendship.

ZAP can be read in person at the MAP office with future plans to be announced on Instagram at