Future Artefacts fair in London celebrates the joy of print, vinyl, and the physical object

Fans of print and vinyl would be wise to spend some time over at the Future Artefacts fair, which is being held in Shoreditch, London this weekend. But make no mistake, this is not an event for Luddites looking back longingly at the analogue age, but instead a celebration of how the physical object still has a place in our digital world…

This is the first year of the Future Artefacts fair but the line-up of contributors is strong. The fair mixes stalls from independent book publishers with those of independent record labels, with a few tech companies thrown in too. On the book side, Ditto, Four Corners, Claire De Rouen and the Archive of Modern Conflict are among the 40 stands, while Ninja Tune, Pan and One Little Indian are also appearing displaying vinyl, and, in the case of the latter, offering a chance for visitors to view a VR film of Björk’s Stonemilker promo.

“This started as an idea of just developing a good, fun fair,” says Ben Freeman, who founded the fair alongside Deano Jo. “There are far fewer bookshops than there used to be, and far fewer outlets for things in general, and fairs are a good place to meet your audience.” Plus there is a financial incentive for participants to appear at the fair too – “As a publisher you keep 100% of the cover price, instead of paying a distributor.”

Claire De Rouen stand. Top image by Sam Bush, all other images by Eliza Williams
Claire De Rouen stand
Technology Will Save Us stand
Technology Will Save Us stand
Four Corners Books stand
Four Corners Books stand

“Trying to get something like this off the ground in the first year is interesting as you’ve got to convince everybody that what you believe is true,” Freeman continues. “It’s gone really well though because I think it’s chimed with everyone’s personal beliefs. Also it’s appealed to people that we’re not segregating the music world and the art world. There’s a few tech companies there as well so I think there should be quite a lot of interesting cross-pollination happening.”

The fair celebrates the physical object and aims to demonstrate the significant place that books and records still have in our culture. But Freeman is determined that it’s not an attempt to rage against digital. “We’ve been very, very clear from the start that we don’t want this to be a kind of Luddite, retrogressive, nostalgic thing,” he says. “I have no interest in that at all – we love digital and use it every day and it’s made our lives much easier, but we also still appreciate craftsmanship and tactility. It’s really encouraging the development of those two things living side by side.”

SPBH Editions stand
Self Publish, Be Happy stand
Pan Records stand
Pan Records stand
Here Press/Loose Joints stand
Here Press/Loose Joints stand

As well as the fair, which is on until Sunday at Shoreditch Studios and free to enter, a series of live music events, club nights and panel talks are taking place. To find out more info, visit futureartefacts.com.

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