October 13,

Today, 8th June 2016, it’s O’s first birthday.
This is how we want to celebrate: telling you how we’ve lived from the inside these twelve months full of excitement, work and madness.


O, YEAR ONE – O Production Company

Animated GIFs
by David Domingo

Emília Fort

Not long ago a friend gave me as a present The Random Series, the book on Miguel Ángel Tornero’s project, based on his photographic exercises in three different cities: Berlin, Rome and Madrid. I hadn’t heard about it and loved it. The photographs included are collages created from the errors in the cutting and pasting of software, being thus a result as random as unexpected. Analysing -and even merely looking at- the photographs, one realises that random things are, by nature, captivating. I imagine that the interest and the trend for anything born by chance is a characteristic feature of a given type of personality. And let’s say that certainty isn’t a value compatible with the previous hypothesis if we assume it as something reasonable.

When exactly one year ago (on June 8th, 2015), thanks to the effort and work of a long list of friends and collaborators, we launched our web page, we weren’t sure about where this totum revolutum was going to take us. Its elaboration wasn’t random, but its conception was indeed. We decided not to pay any attention to the common sense sported by some of the implied, and chaos and confusion reigned from then on. I clearly remember some people thinking that we had produced Taylor Swift’s music video thanks to the first article by Ben we published, which only took the video as an object of study.

Calling ourselves O, for starters and to put it somehow, is already complicated; thanks to having the whole alphabet save the letter o as our domain, and a web page that runs away from the easy and reader-friendly conditions than digital life implies, many told us we were plain bananas. The other day I saw a guy in the street with a T-shirt that read ‘excuses suck’: it was awful, but I thought the message was very clever, so I immediately thought about taking its content as my daily motto. Now that I’ve just googled it I’ve discovered it’s a Nike Running slogan, but it’s too late to take it back, so I’m not going to justify any decisions made a year ago.

It’s highly possible that anything that happens is a kind of software error at planetary level; chance, in fact, could illustrate this with many examples inside our own house, but I don’t want to sound too mystical. In any case, we’re in this world to embrace and fight (chance). After a whole year we thought it was time to tidy things up a little. Chaos is sexy, but at the end of the day we need to provide some usability and understanding by differentiating or classifying the contents we make more clearly: editorial, visual, etc. You see? It’s taken us a year to reach such a complicated conclusion…

So, here we are, launching this new home. When we asked Stanley Sunday to make a GIF for the cover of this compilation of texts, Pep, Pol (Affaire) and I told him a bit about the reasons and intentions for this change. Last night he sent us a wonderful work in progress in which the web site was represented by a wild horse and us by a rider chasing it and trying to tame it. I haven’t got a clue what his free interpretation of our situation will end up looking like (I need to hand in this text before I’ll get to see the final GIF), but the truth is that I can’t really imagine any kind of serious taming taking place anywhere near here. And I’m really happy with it being so: the race between these horse and rider is what makes us go on arguing and working.

Luis Cerveró

Well, a year has gone by. And what’s a year? If you want to see it through space, it’s a whole rotation of the Earth around the Sun, which means a distance of around nine hundred and forty million kilometres. If you want to see it through time, it’s more than thirty one million seconds. And a second, for all those who have never had the curiosity to check out, is the duration of nine thousand one hundred and ninety-two million six hundred and thirty-one thousand seven hundred and seventy oscillations of the radiation emitted in the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the fundamental state of the isotope one hundred thirty-three of the atom at a zero degree kelvin temperature. Let’s see, I don’t have a fucking clue about what a year is, but it seems that for science, at a quantitative level, it’s something really mental. Thank God, or whoever it was, that someone invented the ‘year’ measurement unit and then the millions of kilometres or of subatomic oscillations became just that, one; one year. So little! So young! Can’t do anything yet! There you go, a year! Feels like it was yesterday, and it’s spring again. Primavera Sound. This year I have no pass. I do. Well, I don’t. And who’s coming? Radiohead; and LCD Soundsystem. But they had split up! No, they’re back. God, what’s back, it’s the nineties! Oh, no. Twenty years have gone by! And what’s a year? Well, let me tell you exactly…

It’s been a year, only one, since Emilia, Rafa and I made public this indescribable invention called O. And this first year has been like first years usually are: clumsy, passionate, chaotic, intense, dizzying, fun, risky and brief. The good thing about first years is that they’re full of unexpected events and novelties and you learn all the time, meet lots of people, do things you’d never done before and always feel like it’s a sunny morning outdoors. The bad thing about first years is that you start from scratch, every day is a struggle, don’t stop falling, everything is twenty times harder and you always feel like one of those boats advancing very slowly through a gap in the ice; at night time; in the Arctic Circle. Where there’s almost no life and it’s bloody freezing. The balance between the good things and the bad things in a first year, like everything in life, depends on the importance you grant to good things and to bad things in your head. Radiohead. I have a pass for Primavera. Well, I don’t.

We’ve made lots of mistakes in this first year. Well, I haven’t made so many, but Emi and Rafa? All the time! And we’ve sat down to think about what we’ve done and what we can do to make things a little bit better. Not only better, but different. Because what we’re terrified of is settling down, starting something and then just stop to look at it, self-satisfied. This new design of the web, with a daily content update instead of a weekly one, is only the first of a few changes, and mistakes, and falls, and cool things we’re going to launch over the next few months. We’d like you to get out of your hide-outs behind seals and under the ice and jump on the boat to sail all together, and make a bonfire to keep us warm, and see each other’s faces, and burn down the ship, and have no safety boats and jump overboard like good all pirates. We might end up dying, but we might end up finding a precious island on which to lie down with a palm tree over our head. Radiohead. I have a pass for Primavera. Well, this year, I do too.

Rafa Montilla

That’s where we were born, and maybe that’s why our name is O.
For the difficulty of giving a practical sense to what we do.
No matter how you look at it, we’re still a singular element, difficult to define, complex, mutating.
Endless. Whether you look at us from the front or from behind, we’re still the same thing, a circular element, beginning and end in itself.
Contradictory among ourselves, we’ve been here a year and we’re still trying to find out who we are. Trying vs. certainty.
The cause doesn’t lead to the effect, but rather, the effect has become the cause.
Trying to create. A daily exercise of continuous struggle.
Dissenting is a good proof of it, not resigning to conformism. A way of life.
I’m on the AVE on my way to Madrid; the guy sitting next to me has given twenty likes to as many photographs. Time; less than thirty seconds. Mechanical thinking, free of any compromise.
Is it Isabelle Huppert? No, she speaks Spanish, there’s always time to dream.
Someone with a scared face takes a selfie with Bertín Osborne in the queue for the AVE.
And the journey goes on, even if no one knows the route, we still advance.
It’s only a year. A place where anything can happen. Even our thing.
Many names, good people, self-sacrificing, the illusion of the newly born, there we go.
Something keeps you going, and it isn’t momentum.
Search. There are many mad people around. Outrage.
What would you save? Everything. The good things and the bad things, and the feeling that each day is further away from the preceding one.

Joan Pons

…and some three hundred posts later, I’m still having fun being the editor of O. Its good to make this clear. In fact, it’s almost a must to do so. For two reasons: 1) Not everybody can say they have fun working, for which I consider myself very lucky, no matter how mad I get with deadlines, hunting for collaborators and other responsibilities coming from managing O’s editorial side; and 2) When I had been doing this for two months, I already said, publicly (well, I said it on social networks, which might be or not be the same) that I’d never had so much fun during my entire career. I’d been given a toy. And, what’s more amazing even, I was given the freedom and trust to do whatever I wanted with it! In fact, I now remember with a half-smile my initial qualms to Luis, precisely, “But you won’t want this to end up being my toy, right?”. “Yes, yes, that’s exactly what we want!”

So a year later, I’m still playing at editing and I’m still amazed that they let me do it. Because this is an expensive toy (but careful, we pay it from our own pockets). Its rewards aren’t exactly material, and that, in our day and age, is so suicidal as is romantic. It’s almost a poetic gesture. If O has an editorial project is, simply, for pleasure’s sake. Well, and also because it’s a much more elegant way of reaching others than by selling ourselves through corporate posts.

The strategy is not so easy to grasp the first time around. “I don’t get it: it’s an online magazine but in fact it’s a company’s home?” I’ve received a lot of feedback of that kind. But also of the opposite kind: “Wow! It’s a company’s home but in fact it’s an online magazine!” And that isn’t only rewarding: it’s unselfish, it’s admirable and it amounts to (and think has managed to get since day one) that intangible thing so difficult to possess called prestige.

In these twelve months, I’ve tried, as editor, to be up to the task in such an atypical, free, and exciting project. So the only norm I imposed on myself (because here no one imposed any) was “Each text should be cool.” “Each post should be interesting.” I’ve been able to cover any topics I wanted, look for the approach I desired and count on the collaborators I thought of. My only advice to them when they wrote their posts was always the same: “Talk about whatever you want and however you want. But make clear you’re excited about writing it.”

I’m not sure we’ve managed to be as surprising as Dangerous Minds, who each day publish all sorts of unexpected, but always attractive, posts. I also ignore whether we have the same strong (and mad!) personality as a web site as Visual 404, who don’t ask for permission or apologise for posting intellectual and punk texts. And I’m unsure whether our editorial contents have the same correlative and associative function as those on the vast official Algiers, band page, all open windows to other landscapes beyond their music, but with a clear goal: “if you like this, you’ll also like us.” Those were the three mirrors I chose to look at in the beginning but which soon stopped using as models because O, as a web site, had already its own life.

O’s editorial project has grown and become apart following its own criterion only. We’re no last news site. We’re no trend site. We’re not, I hope, a pain in the ass either. We don’t deny our writers the use of the first person (to cite the two collaborators who have published the most: reading what Ben Tuthill writes on music videos is reading him, and discovering what Jordi Costa thinks about a cartoon in a comic book is discovering him). We don’t reject any kind of format. We don’t make distinctions between high and low culture. We don’t mind publishing contents that don’t talk about brand new stuff (although our treatments are always made in the present tense). And even if all of this is formulated in the negative, I assure you that it couldn’t be more positive!

OK, all this is what we’ve done. But what else is yet to do? Well, getting the members of our roster to get even more involved in this; opening ourselves to contents that don’t only include text; trying to make interviews we’d love to make; hiring more international collaborators, and, of course, having more visibility (without having to cheapen our identity, obviously).

Precisely for this last reason, we have re-designed our web site. Now everything will change and nothing will change. Because the spirit guiding all those implied in the editorial project (O members; regular and occasional external collaborators; our translator, Patricia; our copy-editor, Gerard; our designers, Pol and Pep from Affaire, etc.) is going to be the same, for sure: have fun!

AFFAIRE (Pol Pérez)

I don’t know how long ago, I had a blog –actually, a Fotolog– on which I posted awful black and white photographs accompanied by short stories I wrote ad hoc with no relationship whatsoever with the images. Very often, those stories started describing an everyday-life situation, for example a character entering a house, and from then on certain events or situations occurred that gave the story a twist, trying to make the reader perplex and cause him/her some sort of aesthetic aftertaste. Should I read them now I’m sure I’d be really embarrassed of how bad they were. The reason why I’m explaining this is that the way I wrote them, exactly like I’m writing this text right now, was all about getting started. With a whole universe of things about which I could write my text, the only way to advance was choosing something without even thinking whether I liked it or not: a guy sitting on a bus; and from then on, having edited considerably the number of situations that could be the result of that first scene, I simply followed a path until I reached something.

To me, O is like one of those stories, with the difference that here there’s a group of people excellent at their jobs, and that I no longer have to write. Emi, Luis and Rafa (and then the roster, and Joan, and all the rest) immersed themselves in the darkness –I’m quoting Joan Pons– without knowing what they were doing: only that they were doing it in good company. And thus, on the quiet, O has published forty something amazing editorials, specialised texts, all sorts of articles, and even some listicle or another. And, above all, O has encouraged the work of its artists, and only now we’ve realised we should promote them too. What at the beginning was just an amorphous mass of content, little by little has become a meeting point and the morning read of many. At the beginning, O didn’t know what it was doing, or why, or for whom; but at some point along the way, and after a year, things started to get illuminated, and now it seems the story is writing itself.

AFFAIRE (Pep Román)

The client.

Design schools teach you to execute, to manage, and to be “creative”. But very rarely do they teach you to think, to be critical or to have values and your own ideas. And they even talk less about human relationships, anthropology or ethics. As students, no one tells us about working relations or the type of people we might come across during our professional career. They talk about managing, products, services and companies, but no one talks about the role of the editor, the curator or the creative director. And the most surprising thing, they don’t even mention the client at all!

Touched by O.

O, the client, found us somehow. Chance, curiosity and the fact that they believed in us are what make us be here today. They ended up being a really provocative client, able to catch our attention thanks to the complexity of their goals and the disinterest of their actions. They do this for art’s sake.

A client able to surprise you, to ask you new questions, to break your mental scheme and to help your ideas grow; it’s that kind of client from whom you never stop learning. Because behind this web site, with its iconography and its identity, be it understandable or not, there’s a constant questioning and challenging, formulated by this insatiable client, restless and inquisitive. O has embraced us and has become our true motivation, our perfect client, as motivated as us or even more so.

Today I didn’t feel like talking about design or about why we are re-doing this web site. I’m not going to try and explain what our experience as designers was like, or why we change the type font with each new post we design. Because today we celebrate a year from the beginning of it all, and now we no longer refer to O as the client. Today, we’re part of all this, and them (the client) are the only people responsible for this adventure that is yet to be defined. As long as we keep being curious about things, this won’t stop changing. This is one of those cases, and not one of those absolute truths, in which a good client makes a good result (or at least an interesting one).

Pol and Pep working on the website,
by David Domingo

O, YEAR ONE – O Production Company