What is


Open is a student-run publication seeking visual and written submissions from graduate students, educators, and practitioners of all disciplines.

When thinking of Open, think of the Cabinet of Curiosities, with the doors unhinged and its contents spilling outward. Think of the computer, where anything and everything can be found within this device, all you have to do is ‘open’ a new page–then another, and another. When thinking of Open, think access in the age of unlimited information.

Today, information can be accessed with the click of a mouse, the flick of a wrist, or the scan of your finger, and is available anytime of the day. Such access has not only changed the way we interact with information, but also the way we understand it. One view is that open information is a benefit to society, that access to knowledge should be free. Such open models include: collaborative coding sites like GitHub, online visual and written journals from Oxford to Tumblr, and shared music programs like Spotify. Additionally, education itself is shifting via the promotion of free knowledge. For example, online media, global conferences, and tutorials are stimulating discussions on forgoing the college experience for a one-to-one, more open culture education with professors like TED and Lynda.

Our ability to consume information has also changed, in the amount we read and how we read. Numerous articles, on multiple topics, can be read in the same time it takes to complete a book. However, online articles may prompt hyper attention through divergent reading styles brought on by multiple links and sidebar advertisements, while physical books influence linear reading patterns, further stimulating deep attention.

While open access can be seen as something positive, what risks stem from such openness? When we are too comfortable with private information online, such as releasing credit card numbers, addresses, and the last 4 digits of our social security, we risk being hacked. It is not only our trust in the internet that we should be mindful of, but also in corporations and our government. When Edward Snowden exposed PRISM, a data-collection program enabling the NSA to obtain private emails, individuals were sparked with anger and fear, while others exuded an alarming level of apathy toward governmental surveillance.

The Graduate students of Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA Program in Design + Visual Communication invite you to participate in the discussion of Open.

What does ‘openness’ mean to you, and what is its value in your given context?

How has open access to digital information influenced our sense of openness in other aspects of our life, such as:

Open Identity
What are the pros and cons of being transparent and identifiable online? From online purchasing to answering Facebook’s endless profile questions, can we be revealing too much information about ourselves online?

Open Education
Where do we find our education? Within or free from discipline? Is learning structured or flexible to our own self-initiative? Is access to knowledge limited to a desk, or can it be synthesized from our experience?

Open Service
If our smart phones, tablets, and computers work efficiently 24 hours a day, are individuals expected to as well? Should this business model be applied to one’s own lifestyle? When is it appropriate to close up shop and for how long?

Open Landscapes: Digital + Physical
What is your idea of an open landscape? Is it uncharted? Dense with possibility? Imaginary? Are there any remaining unfound land/internet sites?

Open-Source Models vs. Closed-Source Models
How have open source models benefited society? By promoting learning and understanding through the dissemination of knowledge? What happens when this knowledge is our DNA, a very private kind of code?

Open Objects
Is there still merit in making physical objects today when they might only be portrayed digitally tomorrow? What vessels have you created? How does openness translate into physical/digital form? Is it structural, sculptural, mass produced, or functional?

Open-ended Exploration and Process
Are there benefits to things that never end, or to projects that never see their day of completion? Is it fear that allows projects to live on forever?

Open seeks visual and written submissions from graduate students, educators, and practitioners of all disciplines.

Possible formats include: articles, essays, photographs, interviews, process work, illustrations, comics, poems, and
short stories.

Thank you for your submissions to Open.

Open collected submissions from February 19–April 6, 2014.

We are very happy to have received many entries from all over the world. We are currently sorting these entries and continuing to build the publication.

If you've submitted content and have any questions, or are simply curious about the publication,