In 2012, if:book Australia created a project that took a book from concept to print within a single twenty-four hour period. The 24-Hour Book was written and edited using an online platform where every edit made to the text was captured and stored in a database. Willow Patterns documents the complete output from that database: authors and editors at work.
The first phase of this project took the complete editing information and constructed a web site that enables anyone to search and browse the data: content, times, comments.
The system captured this information every time an author hit the ‘save’ button, but it also created its own background saves of the work in progress.
The web site, created for us by Canberra-based design studio, IceLab, breaks the book’s editing data down and provides a fascinating glimpse into the working habits of the writers and the kind of numbers and details that are usually lost in the making of a book.
The next phase of the project asked four Australian poets to create literary remixes using the book’s data (not its content) as their source material.
Pascalle Burton created a sound collage called I Will Say This Only Once, featuring all 3,500 words used just once in the book's text.
Nathan Curnow's The Leak is a cento poem, stitched together from quotes, paraphrases, and references culled from the book's data and, in the process, transformed into something new, with each reference to the original author, meticulously annotated.
Sandra Thibodeaux’s Just So was inspired by the features within the book—the missing girl, her red dress, the things in her pockets, absence, loss, a police officer haunted by his own incompetence—and tied them to the true story of a missing child at Borroloola who was eventually found deceased.
Nicholas Powell cut and paste the stories into one document, three columns to a page, then performed various ‘Gysinesque’ experiments, underlining interesting run-ons, vertical enjambments to produce the two-column poem Figures in Waiting.
All remix pieces are available at the Willow Patterns web site.
A group of QUT students also took the data for remixing and kept a blog documenting their creations.
Pascalle Burton’s manoeuvres with word, sound and artefact are usually founded in cultural theory and conceptual art. She’s performed at venues and festivals in Australia and overseas, with projects such as The Stress of Leisure, Letter.Box.Stamp.Collect., Poems by Telephone, The Outlandish Watch and Flight. Her debut collection, A Vast Laugh, was released through Small Change Press in 2008.
Nathan Curnow lives in Ballarat and is a past editor of Going Down Swinging. His work features in Best Australian Poems 2008, 2010 and 2013 (Black Inc) and has won a number of awards including the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize. His most recent collection, RADAR, is available through Walleah Press.
Nicholas Powell’s first full-length collection, Water Mirrors(UQP, 2012) was awarded the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, and shortlisted for the Wesley Michel Wright Prize in Poetry. In 2012-13 he was commisioned to write poems for The Red Room’s Poetry Object, and Cordite-QPF’s Gibberbird. He lives in Finland.
Sandra Thibodeaux is a poet and playwright. She has published three collections of poetry, with the latest of these being Extinctions (PressPress, 2010). In 2011, Sandra was Australian Poetry’s Poet-in-Residence. Sandra has written over a dozen plays that have been staged as part of festivals and broadcast on Radio National. Her latest play is The Lion Tamer, winner of the Darwin Festival Script Award, 2012, that was recently produced at Brown’s Mart, directed by Alex Galeazzi.