I recently came across the word “bricolage”, not in the modern French sense of DIY, but in the artistic context. In a book I am reading a teacher tries to explain something using a series of found objects – a work of bricolage.
bricolage plural of bri·co·lage (Noun)
- (in art or literature) Construction or creation from a diverse range of available things.
- Something constructed or created in this way.
It struck me that this is a useful way to think about the crossmedia efforts many magazines are making, developing digital content out of the work they already do for their print publications.
Smart editors are using whatever is at hand to expand out into developing digital platforms. They post interview segments as podcasts, create video shorts from exhibitions, tweet marquee quotes from features, run outtakes as online exclusives.
You know about curation right? You should, it’s been one of the biggest buzzwords in content management for quite a while. The act of bricolage is just curation, but with a clearly defined final product. It’s fairly easy to explain the curation process, what’s tough is trying to nail down what the end result should look like. Thinking about the objective at the end of the process as a bricolage helps.
What stops a work of bricolage, constructed from whatever is to hand, looking like a pile of junk? It’s the connections that the artist makes, the placing of objects in such a way that relationships become clear.
The worst thing an editor can do in crossmedia is toss random content fragments online and hope the audience will figure out the relationships for themselves. Editors need to think about the final product, a package of content, made from what is available, but connected in clever ways. Each piece should add something; should be relevant and related to the whole; connected, both thematically and electronically. It should be clear how the audience will engage with each piece and how each piece will lead then to engage with the whole content package.
If magazines are going to get into crossmedia bricolage – and I think they should – it must be done with intent. Think about the end result and add elements with purpose. Don’t just pile bits and pieces of content together. That’s a junk pile, not bricolage.
*Bottle Cap Lamp made by bricolage artist Mark Mardirosian