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Brown student-, alum-founded Syntax Magazine bridges multimedia art, internet

Launched last spring, magazine features wide variety of multimedia content

Gelfond explained that Syntax aims to showcase the internet as a “creative form.”
Photo Courtesy of Skylar Kim.
Gelfond explained that Syntax aims to showcase the internet as a “creative form.” Photo Courtesy of Skylar Kim.

Syntax Magazine is a tri-annual publication founded last spring by Lucas Gelfond ’24.5 and Anabelle Johnston ’23. Featuring a variety of content ranging from poetry to visual art, Syntax focuses on “culture and the internet,” according to its website.

In addition to pitches, Syntax accepts some complete “literary, art and interactive pieces,” Johnston told The Herald. The magazine publishes “essays, fiction, poetry, visual art, new media work, reviews and more,” she added.

Many of Syntax’s staff are affiliated with Brown. “A lot of our intellectual and creative community has come from Brown, but we are so excited to be building our team beyond school,” Johnston said.

Gelfond — a double concentrator studying computer science and an independent concentration in art, literature and technology — explained that his study is very similar to the work of Syntax. “My independent concentration is about ways that cultural production and technological development interact and ways that they are mutually informative,” he said. 


Syntax was inspired by the closure of some of Gelfond and Johnston’s favorite art and technology publications. According to Gelfond, many of their loved platforms featuring “thoughtful culture writing” had experienced major layoffs or completely shut down.

“We were writing similar things about internet culture, computers and art,” Gelfond said. “We did not see a publication that wrote about the sort of things we cared about.”

According to Johnston, the “main goal” of Syntax is “to create a digital reading environment that takes advantage of the browser as a form.” Gelfond explained that Syntax aims to showcase the internet as a “creative form.”

“We’re interested in cultural implications about the internet that are not stuck in fast media or academic theory,” Gelfond said. “I think either is sort of too reactive or feels very out of touch.”

All pieces published by Syntax are available on their website. Their content, which spans various forms of media, includes interviews with internet artists, a short film by a Brown alum and a piece on computational poetry.

Among the works featured in the magazine is Gelfond’s interview with internet culture researcher Josh Citarella, the founder of Do Not Research, an online platform that publishes writing, visual art and more.

Johnston also published an interview with Maya Man, a multimedia artist whose work addresses the intersection of identity and internet culture. Johnston stated in the article that she was drawn to Man’s work due to the nature of Man’s writing, making “permeable the boundary between art and posting.”

The first issue of Syntax is currently available on the magazine’s website, with the second issue to be released in May, according to Gelfond. He added that people can pitch to the magazine by emailing the address on their website.


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