Ilan Manouach (Athens 1980) is a comics artist, a book publisher and a researcher with a specific interest in conceptual and post-digital comics. Currently a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Metalab, Ilan has a PhD from Aalto University in Helsinki where he examined how this century’s frontier technologies such as AI, financial technologies and globalized logistics reshape the comics industry.
He is mostly known for Shapereader, a system for tactile storytelling specifically designed for blind and partially sighted readers/makers of comics. Initially developed for communities of visually impaired, Shapereader is a speculative, trans-disciplinary project that promotes an embodied, non-retinal, narrative experience. Designed as a non-alphabetic system of communication, it is built on an expanding repertoire of free floating tactile ideograms (tactigrams) intended to provide haptic equivalents for all the semantic features, the conceptual functions and textual attributes of a narrative. It has an ongoing outreach plan for a diversified audience that has been unfolding in a variety of formats, contexts and collaborations.
Manouach is the director of Futures of Comics, an international, recurrent research programme that explores how comics are undergoing historic mutations in the midst of increasingly financialized, globalized technological affordances and proposes to map the social, economic, racial and gendered forces that shape the industry’s commercial, communication and production routines. In 2018, along with poet Kenneth Goldsmith he was the curator of the Festival Shadow Libraries: Ubuweb in Athens, that proposes to examine the uses of the archive in regards to artistic production and explore the conceptual consistency and the ethics of digital preservation and distribution in web libraries, through the lens of its users and makers. He is also the publisher of Topovoros responsible for bringing translations in greek of works from Hito Steyerl, Mackenzie Wark, Craig Dworkin, Donna Haraway, Helene Cixous, Laurent de Sutter, Guy Hocquenghem, among others.
On the side, Ilan works as a pirate/librarian for the Conceptual Comics Collections at Ubuweb and Monoskop, is an appointed expert in experimental comics for the Belgian government for its national public funding program (CCAP) and works as a strategy consultant for the Onassis Foundation. The Comics Journal called him “one of the most critical contemporary cartoonists and thinkers working today” and Kenneth Goldsmith described him as “the most provocative, critical, and intelligent comic artist alive”.