Neural is a printed magazine established in 1993 dealing with new media art, electronic music and hacktivism. It was founded by Alessandro Ludovico and Minus Habens Records label owner Ivan Iusco in Bari (Italy). In its first issue (distributed in November 1993) there was the only translation in Italian of the William Gibson‘sAgrippa (a book of the dead) book.
The first topics covered were: cyberpunk (both as a literally and political movement), electronic music, networks and BBS, virtual reality, media, science fiction and UFO. The magazine’s mission was to be a magazine of ideas, becoming a node in a larger network of digital culture publishers. The magazine was also committed to give its topics a proper visual frame: focusing on graphic design and how it could have expressed the electronic culture in a sort of printed ‘interface’, exploiting at the same time the “sensorial” possibilities of the printed page. So, for example the page numbering was strictly in binary numbers for three years, then decimal figures were added aside. There was a department with stereogram pictures and the centerfold hosted a few optical art artworks. The graphic design included a fixed space in every article for contact and links, being inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog experiments.
In issue #18 the centerfold was dedicated to an hacktivist fake. It was made by fake stickers, created by the Italian hacker laboratories’ network. These fake stickers were sarcastically simulating the real ones that are mandatory stuck on any book or compact disc sold in Italy, because of the law supporting the SIAE, the local Author’s and Musicians’ Society. On the one published on Neural is written ‘suggested duplication on any media’.
In 1997 the first Neural website was established, and it is updated daily since September 2000. The Neural website is bi-lingual (English and Italian).
In 1998, the topics were restricted to three: media art, with a peculiar attention to the networked and conceptual use of technology in art (the so-called net.art), hacktivism, or activism using electronic media to express itself and electronic music, investigating how the technology is involved in music production, consumption and experimentation.
In May 2002, Neural was one of the founding members of Mag.net, electronic cultural publishers, an international network of magazines, whose slogan is “Collaboration is Better than Competition”. This network was founded during the conference and workshop “Post Media Publishing” that took place at the Universidad International de Andalucia, in Seville (Spain). Since then, a few Mag.net meetings, mutual workshops and presentations were done in various countries, and three Mag.net Readers were published as well.
In 2004, Neural.it was awarded with an Honorary Mention in the net.vision category of the Prix Ars Electronica 2004.
In 2007, Neural was part of the Documenta 12 magazines project and Alessandro Ludovico was appointed as an advisor.
Neural magazine started as a bi-monthly but since 1997 it was printed three times in a year (some years it was printed irregularly). It was printed originally in Italian, but since 2003 there were two different printed editions: in English and Italian. The Italian printed edition was discontinued in 2008.