From My Introduction To The New Issue Of Scalpel

The new issue of international culture gem Scalpel just came out.  I was asked to write the introduction for this edition, which I did while flying to Frankfurt en route to the European Music Awards.  It’s a beautiful, bound, book, but it’s limited edition, only 600 copies are printed, and most of those end up in the hands of creative directors.  So I figured I would post a portion of my intro here.  Excerpts from the full book will eventually be published at Scalpel’s website.

Fable of Contents: 50 Possible Truths About Scalpel

By Ross Martin


I’m 30,000 feet over the Atlantic, somewhere between Brooklyn and Frankfurt, headed to the 2012 MTV European Music Awards.  In 10 hours, artists like Pitbull, Muse, The Killers and Psy will light up an arena full of screaming German teens.

Right now, though, everyone around me is asleep, their cabin lights out, and a small round sleeping pill is staring me in the face, inviting me to join them.  I’m not taking it.

I can’t.  I’m all hyped up. I might wake my neighbors, but I don’t care.  Alexander Singh, Pere Castells, and Luis Ivan Cuente have lit up my tablet with as much manic energy as Psy dancing Gangnam Style, and Scalpel is their stage. The magazine’s still in PDF form, an uncorrected proof – Scalpel before it’s unsheathed.

By the time you read this, that PDF will have become a real freakin’ thing, the thing that’s in your hands right now – and it’s going to change you.  I don’t know what path this edition will take as it makes its way through you – down the middle, back to front, around the edges – but I know it’ll cut into you, open you up, expose you.

This is supposed to be a Diagnosis; I’m supposed to transpose the theory that explains all the symptoms you might be experiencing.  Blown mind.  Stuttering heart. Dropped jaw. But by the time you’ve made your way through Scalpel – or it through you – one answer can’t possibly be enough. Your system will have suffered too many shocks. You’ll be infected with too many viral ideas.

So instead, a string of theories, ideas, connections, innuendos and misrepresentations.  In other words, 50 ways of holding a Scalpel.  While you divine 50 of your own, here are mine:

1)    For every chapter of Scalpel, “Surgeons” have been deputized to serve up a fresh cut of global zeitgeist.  That’s not easy.  The limits of corporeal publication mean tough choices for carving.  Scalpel has no room for fat.

2)    With such tight time and such small space, what makes it onto the printed pages of the 21st century – and specifically the pages of Scalpel – provokes some existential questions as we hold this sucker in our hands.  Like, where’s the “share” button?  There isn’t one, so you will find yourself talking about what you find in here.  Even if you have to wake up the passenger sleeping next to you.

3)    Who each Surgeon chose, and how they represent their work, is as much a reflection of the Surgeons as it is of the artists themselves.  Good thing you now have everyone’s email address.

4)    If you’re a Creative Director, I hope you haven’t read this far into my observations before emailing the artists in here who’ve captivated you.  If you did, you’re already late to their inboxes. Someone else has hired them.

5)    If you’re a doctoral student, I offer the following dissertation topics

–   There’s No Time: The Phenomenology of Narrative Design For Millennials

–   Gamification: How “Scalpel: The Video Game” Will Topple Governments

–   What It Means That Scalpel’s Art Director Just Friended Me On LinkedIn

–   All Of The Above: Why Scalpel Is Becoming A Micro Social Network

6)    How is possible that Scalpel has no Poetry section?  WTF?

7)    The gastronomy section is so transcendent, it makes up for there not being a Poetry section.

8)    People in Scalpel I Most Want to Get a Drink With:

  1. Kim Boske
  2. Damian Nenow
  3. Markus Kayser

9)    Hi there.  Are you a wild beast looking for a new haunt?  Noémie Goudal’s photographs evoke unfurnished, abandoned spaces you might consider.  (Nota bene:  Unlike the “ruin porn” of post-apocalyptic Detroit, these exotics may look empty, but something or someone is coming back soon.)

…and so on…





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