IQ News: Looking For Fun, Agency.Com Rekindles Urban Desires




Agency.com’s Urban Desires, one of the first online ‘zines, will relaunch next month, changing its focus from magazine-style editorial to an exploration of visual art.
“I was really bored” with the old structure said Editor in Chief Gabrielle Shannon, who founded UD in 1994 with Kyle Shannon and Chan Suh, principals of Agency.com. “We started with the format because it was really what we knew and what everyone else knew.”
According to Shannon, Urban Desires receives 500,000 homepage impressions per month, which would make it one of the largest ‘zines on the Web. The staff has not uploaded a new issue since the November/December 1997, but past issues are still available online.
The revivification comes at a time when other highbrow ‘zines, such as Word, Total New York and Charged, have folded under market pressures. Urban Desires is funded by its founders and will remain a venture for fun, not money.
“We’re still not pushing to be a big, profitable business model,” said Aaron Sugarman, vp and creative director of Agency.com and creative director of UD. There are no plans for advertising, though he said sponsorship hadn’t been ruled out.
Starting in mid- to late April, the site, www.desires.com, will offer short films, interactive art, animation, “even really well done media hoaxes–how information travels and is believed,” Sugarman said.
The goal is to have new content every few weeks, but Sugarman likened the site to a movie theater: If the audience likes a piece, it will stay up longer.
Sugarman said he’d like to explore such art forms as movie credits and interstitials on MTV, which he often finds more creative and interesting than the works they introduce.
So why does the interactive agency feel the need to bring back a retired site–or to operate a general interest Web site at all?
“It’s getting back to the feeling I had when we first started, which is that it’s a new, exciting venture,” Shannon said. “We’re using it as a place for experiments.”