When Anna meets Mez

ROMD-LOGOIrish born Anna Maria Murray arrived in Australia in 1827 at the age of 19 with her father, a retired army officer who was entitled to a free land grant in New South Wales. She married Captain George Bunn, a mariner and merchant and they settled in Pyrmont in Sydney. Captain Bunn died suddenly on 9 January 1834, aged 43, leaving Anna Maria at the age of 25 years, with two young boys and no source of income. Her family took her in and, in the five years following her husband’s death, Anna Maria wrote a novel titled The Guardian: A Tale. A work that, strangely, combines the Gothic tradition with a comedy of manners, The Guardian was published anonymously in 1838. Despite its being set in Ireland, it has the distinction of being the first novel published on the Australian mainland.

Anna Maria Bunn died in 1889. The Guardian is her only known work of fiction.

Chances are, unless you have an interest in nineteenth century Australian fiction, you’ve never heard of Anna Maria Bunn.

if:book’s most significant work to date has pushed the boundaries of experimentation, while incorporating elements of traditional publishing and past technologies. Projects have regularly incorporated print outcomes. Memory Makes Us, for example, uses the typewriter as a genuine tool within the project and as a link to the history of writing.

This year, we’re taking these ideas further. This year, in the literary equivalent of a matching agency, if:book will introduce three contemporary writers to three lesser-known authors from Australia’s past with the goal of creating brand new works that adapt, remix, extend, and mash up work drawn from nearly two hundred years of publishing.

In the first of these match ups, Anna Maria Bunn will be meeting internationally celebrated practitioner of electronic literature, digital multimedia and code-based poetry, Mez Breeze. Mez developed, and continues to write in, a hybrid language called ‘mezangelle’, a visually rich combination of code and regular language that highlights the incursion of the digital into our everyday lives. As well as creating static literary texts using mezangelle, Mez also creates multi-disciplinary multimedia works online, and participates in online events that blur the lines between on- and off-line behaviour.

What will happen when Anna meets Mez? What might the nineteenth century novel look like as a web-based transmedia work? A Twitter feed? An experimental long-form narrative? We are about to find out.

The project is called Rumours of My Death.

Australia has a wealth of writing in the public domain that—Lawson and Banjo aside—is not well known outside academic circles. Rumours of My Death seeks to bring a few of these works to a contemporary audience and to acknowledge the legacy of Australian writing and use it—affectionately—as a launchpad into real-time, hypertextual, networked future.

But the project is also an interrogation of ideas that surround the future of the book, ideas that are intricately linked with the long shadow of the book’s history. How is it that we can resurrect these authors and their works and not others? What is the purpose of copyright and the value of the public domain? What is the difference between access to culture and the actual use and dissemination of that culture? Access is undoubtedly important, but if no one knows a work exists, then what good is its availability? What has happened to Australian publishing changed since our first fledgling novels were published in the 1830s? What has changed and what hasn’t? When an author co-opts someone else’s work, how does that change the meaning of authorship? Is it fair to co-opt the work of an author who can’t raise any objections?

Throughout the year, alongside the creative projects, we will commission essays exploring and documenting some of these issues and more that arise from Rumours of My Death.

It’s one of if:book’s most ambitious projects to date and one that promises are strange journey of discovery into both old and new. The first pieces from Rumours of My Death will see publication from July. More about the project and details of each of the three literary match-ups are available right here at the if:book web site.

A change of attire

It has been a little while since our last communique and although the site may have languished somewhat, if:book has been flat out behind the scenes preparing for a series of events and projects to kick off soon.

We’ve got a ton of things we’ve been itching to share with you, but each probably deserve their own blog posts so we’ll try not to overwhelm you just yet.

The most obvious thing is the site’s new lick of paint. We’ve taken if:book’s projects and placed them right out the front of the site so you can keep track of what we’re up to and take a dip into where we’ve been much more easily than before. The projects page won’t be static, we’ll be adding new details to project pages as they grow and change over time and we’ll also add details of previous projects like our essay series

That of course means that the blog is now relegated to this page, rather than right up front.

The projects home page has also of course inadvertently announced of our new project for 2015, Rumours of My Death. We’ll have a lot more to say about this project in the coming weeks, but for now, take a look at what we have planned in this unholy mashup of contemporary Australian writing and forgotten works from the Public Domain.

There’s more—much more—to come, but for now take a click or tap around the site and see what you can see. Please excuse broken links and images while we settle in (though feel free to share them with us if you spot them).

Willow Patterns at ISEA 2015

Good news, everyone!

Late last year, we received notice that Willow Patterns: The Complete 24-Hour Book has been selected as an artwork for the 21st International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA 2015).

The symposium and exhibition will happen in Vancouver, Canada on 14 -18 August.

‘It’s an incredible honour to have if:book represented at such a prestigious event,’ said if:book manager Simon Groth, ‘and a testament to the work of everyone involved in the 24-Hour Book. It’s extraordinary that just twenty-three-and-a-bit hours of frenzied activity has continued to produce beautiful art and a rich set of ideas driving it more than two years after the initial “data capture”.’


ISEA is one of the world’s most prominent international arts and technology events, bringing  together scholarly, artistic, and scientific domains in an interdisciplinary discussion and showcase of creative productions applying new technologies in art, interactivity, and electronic and digital media. The event annually brings together artists, designers, academics, technologists, scientists, and general audience in the thousands. The symposium consists of a peer reviewed conference, a series of exhibitions, and various partner events—from large scale interactive artwork in public space to cutting edge electronic music performance.

The theme for ISEA2015 is disruption.

DISRUPTION invites a conversation about the aesthetics of change, renewal, and game-changing paradigms. We look to raw bursts of energy, reconciliation, error, and the destructive and creative forces of the new. Disruption contains both blue sky and black smoke. When we speak of radical emergence we must also address things left behind. Disruption is both incremental and monumental.

Willow Patterns: The Complete 24-Hour Book reproduces every saved version of the work in progress from if:book’s 24-Hour Book project into a database printed on lavish hardcover across 28 volumes.

Willow Patterns: The Complete 24-Hour Book

It has been selected at part of the exhibition focusing on the sub-theme of new text.

Text reveals language in code, poetics and discourse. How can text, code, and practices in electronic literature be explored in the frame of disruptive change? How do defamiliarization and rupture cross from literature into other spheres? Using text and code, how can we investigate contemporary aesthetics at this moment within bookforms, narrative, electronic, or generative literature? What are the possibilities of creation and destruction using the medium of code and the function of the literary in today’s culture?

Willow Patterns is currently on display at Queensland Writers Centre at the State Library of Queensland.

Now open: The if:bookstore

Our two most recent books are now available to order from Queensland Writers Centre bookstore.


The spiral-bound print edition of Lost in Track Changes, a hand-numbered edition of 100 is available for $11.95 (pph).

The beautiful A2-size poster for Open Changes, featuring the work of 23 writers, is available for &7.95 (pph).


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Memory Makes Us is coming to Perth

MMUTangles of hair and the music of life will surround the final Memory Makes Us event for 2014. Our memories bid their farewell in Perth for the Disrupted Festival of Ideas.

Share your memories with us now.

Kate Fielding will be writing to the theme of Haircut
Describe your favourite salon. What was your worst hairdressing experience? And what was your best? Did you ever cut, colour or style someone’s hair? How did it feel?

Maxine Beneba Clarke will be writing to the theme of Harmony and Rhythm
Music infuses our lives and the rhythm of life often creates recurring motifs: birth cycles, death cycles, seasonal cycles. Harmony may lead to thoughts of forgiveness and reconciliation, interpersonal and otherwise.

Memory Makes Us is a live writing event that challenges two writers to create a new work using as their inspiration collected memories from the general public. You can watch the work unfold and deliver your memories to the author in person or contribute and check in via the web site.

On the web, your memories can take the form of text, images, or video. If you join the authors live at the State Library of Western Australia, you can scribble or type your memories and deliver them by hand. Then keep an eye on the work in progress. Your memories may be picked up by the authors and used to spur their creative work.

Location: State Library of Western Australia

Time: Saturday 1 November
10:30am – 4:30pm

Authors: Maxine Beneba Clarke
Kate Fielding

Contribute: http://memorymakesus.org.au

The N00bz Canberra Launch

theN00bzeditiasiteWith Editia Press and Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, we present the official Canberra book launch of The N00bz: New Adventures in Literature

Saturday 27 September, 6.00pm
Bogong Theatre at Gorman Arts Centre

To launch The N00bz, a panel of industry professionals will discuss the fresh perspectives generated by literary experiments and their impact on both the writer and the reader.

Alex Adsett – CHAIR

Alex Adsett is a consultant offering publishing contract advice to authors, publishers and booksellers. Alex has more recently extended her services into the more traditional role of literary agent. She has fifteen years experience working in the publishing and bookselling industry, including stints at Simon & Schuster, Penguin and John Wiley & Sons.

Duncan Felton – Panellist
Duncan Felton is an editor and writer who also works in a library. He’s founding editor at Grapple Publishing (grapplepublishing.com) and one of the co-coordinators of Canberra literary collective Scissors Paper Pen (scissorspaperpen.wordpress.com). His words have appeared in FIRST, BMA, Burley, Voiceworks and Verity La, among others.

Charlotte Harper – Panellist
Charlotte Harper (@editia) is founder and publisher of Editia, a Canberra-based digital first press focused on short non-fiction and longform journalism. Charlotte is a former Fairfax journalist, a Walkley Award-winning web producer and ex-literary editor of The South China Morning Post.

Simon Groth – Panellist
Simon Groth (@simongroth, simongroth.com) is a writer and editor of fiction and non-fiction. His books include Concentrate and Off The Record: 25 Years of Music Street Press. His first two novels were shortlisted in the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and his short fiction has been published in Australia and the United States. As manager of if:book Australia, Simon writes and speaks regularly on the future of the book and took the role of lead writer for the 24-Hour Book project.

More information is available from the Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres.

The N00bz Book Launch in Sydney

the noobzOur own Simon Groth will lead a panel discussion with fellow n00bz Benjamin Law, Greg Field, and Keith Stevenson on literary experiments at the official launch of The N00bz: New Adventures in Literature. First published to this very web site, The N00bz is a collection of writing about writing in which authors experiment with their craft and document their quest to continually improve amidst rapid industrial change. The launch celebrates the second digital and first print editions of the book, including a new n00b adventure from Jennifer Mills and contributions from the talented crew of intrepid tweeters and bloggers who answered our call for a crowd-sourced chapter.

Location Better Read Than Dead 265 King Street, Newtown NSW
Time Tuesday August 12 6:30 pm
RSVP 02 9557 8700 or betterreadevents.com

Can’t make it to Sydney for the launch? Head over to the Editia site where you can order print and digital copies.


An if:book Australia project edited by Simon Groth and published by Editia

Romy Ash |Ÿ Caroline Baum |Ÿ Carmel Bird |Ÿ James Bradley Ÿ| Jodi Cleghorn Ÿ| Emily Craven Ÿ| Duncan Felton Ÿ| Greg Field Ÿ| Raelke Grimmer Ÿ Simon Groth Ÿ| Charlotte Harper Ÿ| Sophie Masson Ÿ| Benjamin Law Ÿ| Elizabeth Lhuede Ÿ| Jennifer Mills Ÿ| Zoe Sadokierski Ÿ| Ronnie Scott Ÿ| Lefa Singleton Norton Ÿ| Jeff Sparrow Ÿ| Keith Stevenson Ÿ| Emily Stewart Ÿ| Sean Williams Ÿ| Freya Wright Brough


Family Tree

MMUOn 30 May 2014, Levin Diatschenko created a new work of narrative fiction for Memory Makes Us using your memories as his inspiration. Levin sought from the public memories on the theme of ‘family tree’.

At the conclusion of the extraordinary work produced, he decided he’d like to expand the story a little further. Maybe a lot further.

So Levin is expanding the story into a novel and he would love to continue receiving your ‘family tree’ memories.

We have set up a dedicated page over at the Memory Makes Us web site for Levin’s project. Memories submitted to the new page will be delivered directly to the author for his consideration and inspiration. Selected memories may also feature in our complete project repository.

Like the main event, Levin is also writing the new extended work in a form visible to everyone. You can follow his progress here.

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Memory Makes Us: Melbourne

MMUWe’re ready to host your memories again. Memory Makes Us is taking place in four Australian cities throughout 2014 and today we’re proud to announce the authors and topics for Melbourne.

The authors begin writing on Sunday 31 August at Federation Square. If you can’t make it to the event, you can share your memory with us at any time from now at the project web site.



The Body by Paddy O’Reilly

Memories of bodies may be personal and intimate: memories of your own and of others, but memories are not restricted to the corporeal. Bodies of work, of evidence, even of water might yet trigger a memory in you.

Paddy O’Reilly writes novels, short stories and screenplay. She has won a number of short story awards and her stories have been published and broadcast around the world. Her books have been shortlisted for major awards as well as nominated as best books of the year in various publications. Paddy’s latest novel is The Wonders.

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Desire by Angela Meyer

It’s something you always wanted, but what are the consequences of acquiring the object of your desire? What are the consequences of never acquiring it?

Angela Meyer is an author (Captives), editor (The Great Unknown), reviewer and literary journalist. She has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Western Sydney, and has blogged for more than seven years at Literary Minded. Her fiction, articles, essays and reviews have been widely published.

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Lies by Nicholas J Johnson

Everybody lies, sooner or later. What lies have you told or been told? Who can you believe?

After decades of rubbing shoulders with fraudsters and liars, Nicholas Johnson now works as a performer, writer and consultant, educating the public about the tricks of the con artist’s trade. His live shows have featured at corporate events, schools and private events simultaneously entertaining and educating audiences about con artists and scams.

His debut novel, Chasing The Ace, is now available.