A [[Non]] Guardian Age, Chapter 1

ROMD-LOGOThe first chapter of A [[Non]] Guardian Age, a web-based remix by Mez Breeze is now available.

This remix takes as its source material The Guardian, a novel by Anna Maria Bunn from 1838. A gothic romance and comedy of manners (seriously), The Guardian is the first Australian novel published on the mainland. Originally published anonymously it was subsequently attributed as the only published work by Bunn.


‘This, in fact, or fiction, or non-fiction, or faction, (is) not a story at all. Not in the traditional sense. This is not a *real* story, one that hooks and tears at your meaning-glands.’

‘This “refashioning” is bald. And itchy. And sometimes, dense. It comprehension-scrabbles like a frenzied sparrow. It desire-dampens and continuity-deflates…’

[[Do you dare get caught up here…?]]


The first chapter is an assumed dialogue between author/remixer and reader, presuming your reaction and preparing you for what’s to come.

Also, there’s sounds.

Keep checking back here at the if:book site and follow #RoMD for updates. Chapters will be released weekly throughout August.

Read it in full window

Since 1995, Mez Breeze’s award-winning digital writing/games have been influential in shaping interactive genres and held in Collections at The World Bank and National Library of Australia.

Anna Maria Bunn (1808–1889) was the anonymous author of The Guardian: a Tale (by an Australian) (1838), the first novel published on mainland Australia.


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Rumours of My Death is a project from if:book Australia that challenges three writers to remix a forgotten work culled from Australia’s Public Domain, to take work from our past and bring it into the present day.

August and September

Everything always seems to happen at once, doesn’t it?

if:book is headed for a big August and September with new creative work across multiple platforms, art exhibitions, and live events happening around the world.


 

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Mez Breeze and our mysterious anonymous author will be taking on the task of remixing work from the Australian public domain.

Mez is crafting a web-based remix of Anna Maria Bunn’s nineteenth century novel The Guardian with installments to be posted weekly right here from this very site.

We will be releasing more details soon, but, during the Brisbane Writers Festival, it will be worth watching out for tweets from one Henry Savery, author of Australia’s first novel.


 

willow patternsFrom 14 to 18 August, our 28-volume database in print, Willow Patterns: The Complete 24-Hour Book will be shown in Vancouver as part of the Next Text Exhibition for the International Symposium of Electronic Art.

We are currently negotiating various exotic ways to get 32kg of book across the Pacific. And yes, it’s just as challenging as you imagine.

Keep an eye on Twitter or Facebook for updates and images from the exhibition. We’ll be tagging everything #24HBWorldTour.


 

MMUFinally, our live writing event Memory Makes Us is headed to the AJC Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book festival in the United States. We’ll be featuring two authors: Atlanta native Randy Osborne and project alumnus Paddy O’Reilly.

And, even if you can’t make it to downtown Decatur for the event, you can follow the authors progress online at the project web site and leave your own memories to help inspire them. Details on theme and the event page will go live in August.

The writing will begin on Saturday 5 September.

Memory Makes Us in the USA

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On 5 September, if:book’s live writing event, Memory Makes Us will make its international debut at the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia, USA.

Located in downtown Decatur, just outside of Atlanta, the AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the United States, featuring more than 600 authors across three days of events and programs. This year’s festival theme is #READdifferent, an theme that if:book takes to heart.

Memory Makes Us is a live writing event where authors create a new work, using for their inspiration the memories submitted by the audience. Fresh from a tour of Australian writers festivals last year, the project takes place both in a physical space in a festival hub and online at the project web site.

Readers from around the world are encouraged to share their memories around a theme set by the authors. This year’s themes will be announced and the web site open for submissions in early August.

On the day, the writers will work online and readers who can’t make it to Georgia can follow their progress at the project web site, keystroke by keystroke. Visitors to the festival can watch the authors working live and contribute their memories in person using decidedly lo-fi tools: pens and typewriters.

The authors for this year’s project are Australian author Paddy O’Reilly and US author Randy Osborne.

http://www.memorymakesus.org.au

Photo: Decatur Book Festival

 

Designing ‘Lost in Track Changes’

Watch our recent chat with Megan Hoogenboom, designer of the ebook edition of Lost in Track Changes, where we talk about designing beautiful EPUB files that work on any screen, abandoned places on the web, and how exactly one approaches the tricky business of presenting remixed work and track changes as a readable product.

The digital edition of Lost in Track Changes is available here:

And the print edition is available here:

Lost in Track Changes, Ebook Edition

The ebook edition of if:book’s Lost in Track Changes project has been released and is now available.

The digital edition is available here:

And the print edition is available here:

LTCLike its wire-bound margin-note-encouraging print edition, Lost in Track Changes is no ordinary EPUB file. Designed by Rotterdam-based Megan Hoogenboom, this is a book that seeks to make better use of its container than the typical ebook, using layout as a navigational aid and encouraging you to jump between tracked and final versions of the stories, effectively ‘switching’ track changes on and off.

Lost in Track Changes requires you to follow a peculiar pathway through its gradually morphing texts and I think that’s entirely appropriate for the ebook edition of a project that began its life in word processors and transmogrified first for the web and then print before winding up here. This is an ebook that requires from you just that little bit more than reading and occasionally stabbing a finger at your screen like an old boozer in a pub making an emphatic point. Like the authors who have created this text, you’ll have to make some decisions and maybe a few discoveries along the way. You have to find your way through the technology to draw the story out from it.

Many of if:book’s projects seek to lift the veil a little on the writing process, to offer a glimpse into how writers go about what they do, the decisions they make along the way and how that influences the text. And it’s a sensibility that carries all the way through to the final product itself. This is an experimental ebook born from an experimental project. Part of its goal is to bring out the best in its medium: engaging and readable, but also uniquely electronic, designed specifically for the ereader. Inside this file are stories that slowly evolve, that make sharp unexpected turns, that subtly drift and meander off the usual path.

And if you happen to get a little lost in there, don’t worry. After all, it’s in the title.

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Lost in Track Changes has been designed for the EPUB format only. The file has no DRM so you are welcome to transcode it into the Kindle format if you like, but we have not tested it in Kindle apps or devices so we can’t guarantee it will work as advertised.

Uncomfortable and Troubling

willow patternsWillow Patterns, the 28-volume database began its World Tour last month in Melbourne for the inaugural Melbourne Art Book Fair. There if:book manager Simon Groth participated in a public discussion with Lisa Dempster from Melbourne Writers Festival about the project and how art can change the way we see books. Full size images are available over at if:book’s Flickr.

Jane Sullivan covered the Art Book Fair for The Age and featured the discussion and Willow Patterns.

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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”.’

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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.

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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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