media and technology

Goodbye Cosmo, so long Loaded says Susanna Beaumont as she looks forward to the re-launch of Glasgow’s glossy arts and media mag Variant.

With the heavies of the publishing world on the laddish-offensive and the lassie counter-attack. battling out the glossy mag circulation wars, you'd be forgiven for thinking 90s culture was one long hedonistic waaay-hay of fun. But what about all that goes beyond becry guffawing and girly giggling?

Taking the line that there is more to modern life and it needs coverage. Variant magazine sets out to report. zappy-style. the contemporary cultural scene. From avant-garde music to live and visual art. moving image culture and the media. Variant aims to ride high on the cultural cross-currents flowing through Scotland and elsewhere.

Unashamedly out to flex the readers‘ mental muscles rather than tone up the pectorals. here the lads and lassies phenomena is likely to get a critical overhaul rather than hand- Qapping approval. As Leigh

@over art

French. Variant‘s co-editor puts it: ‘The magazine shows there‘s more beyond cultural Disneyland.‘

Variant is quite a phenomena in its own right. Originally launched in I984. the Glasgow-based arts glossy was forced to close in 1994 when its £20,000 a year grant from the Scottish

Arts Council suddenly 1 ¢ .

ceased. Two years on. Leigh _, I French along with fellow- 5’ editor. William Clark. are boldly re-launching the title '1 with no funding. At a time when new magazines frorn international publishing stables can fast disappear to the graveyard of dead titles. French is. as they say. quietly confident. With just £3000 in advertising revenue and no cover price. the tabloid-format Variant is. admits French: ‘as much a testament to people‘s goodwill. from designers to distributors.‘ They are however thinking big. with international distribution targeted at 20.000 in the long-term a sizeable figure fora small local magazine with no big- cash backers.

With a broad spectrum of writers


Variant: riding high on cultural cross-currents

from Scotland and abroad. discussing the rise of the Irish bar in Glasgow seven have opened in the last year -- to the ‘aesthetics of falling over and in love'. French sees the first issue as a net-throwing exercise. ‘We want to gauge a response but Variant can‘t be everything to everybody.‘

'I’ltejirst issue of Variant is published in October and ('(IN be picked tip_/ree at galleries and arts venues in Glasgow and Iz'tlinbutg/t.

Furry logic

Who needs a real pet when you can have a virtual one? Alastair Mabbott takes home the new Catz CD- ROM and has a bonding experience with the cat who never needs fed.

Catz promises all the advantages of a feline companion without the attendant drawbacks. and after living with this disc for a few days you'll realise that these claims aren‘t complete hyperbole. Existing as screensavers. or in their own interactive playpen. or even keeping you company on your desktop as you

work, these virtual pussycats somehow manage to get their own way in the end.

Theoretically. thanks to the wonders ofartilicial intelligence. each Catz is unique. You can choose from live different personality types initially. but their individual characters depend on how they‘re treated. We ‘adopted‘ two Jester cats to find that. after only a day, they'd evolved very contrasting quirks. As a result. you have to learn by trial and error exactly what it is your Catz wants when it starts yowling for your attention. It‘s not

It: _.

unusual to exhaust every toy in the playpen before sussing out its needs.

()ne almost feels duty bound. in the name of scientific curiosity. to mistreat and neglect one of the kittens to see what would happen. but anyone who would get excited by the idea of Cat]. in the first place would find it very hard to abuse creatures this cute. ('at: CID-ROMjor Mar/PC (t‘lIitulseape/I’I’ Magic) is available nowfront tlte usual multimedia outlets priced £14.99.

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so The List 20 Se t-3 Oct I996

the lowdown

Games . Web Sites . CD-ROMs

Not content with conquering the box office, the Independence Day aliens are now ready to take over your computer screen. Nigel Floyd is willingly abducted.

Inside Independence Day (Electronic Arts, £19.99)

For a while now, film companies have been handing out CD-ROM press kits to wired journos. Adapting this behind-the-scenes format for the consumer market, Fox Interactive and ACES Entertainment have created a classy package that, for once, doesn't sacrifice solid. easily accessible information to gimmicky design. Here are biographies, background notes about the production, storyboards, high quality stills and films clips, all accessed through a stylish, user-friendly interface. A bank of TV screens showing pics of director Roland. Emmerich, actors Will Smith, Jeff ~. Goldblum et 01 gives access to photos and interviews with all the major east andcrew members.

One inevitable but annoying weakness is that all these interviews were conducted during the making of the film, and therefore consist of people talking slightly vaguely about who their character is. or what they think they're doing. Unlike the film

. clips, which help recapture the

experience of watching the film. these interviews seem stranded in some pre-completion limbo. This reservation aside, Inside , Independence Day sets the standard for future film tie-in CD-ROM ' design.

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