Hunted Down and Other Tales

In much exciting news, Hunted Down and Other Tales is a finalist in the Australian Graphic Design Association's AGDA Awards for 2016.
Conceived by Simon Groth and published by if:book Australia, this little project featured as one of three publications as part of Rumours of My Death, a remix project showcasing early Australian authors and works and thrusting them into the the 21st century (more info available over on the Projects page or on the if:book Australia website)

It was such a fun and brain-bending project to work on and it was a pleasure to collaborate with Simon and designer George Saad who gets all the credit for creating such a beautiful artifact.
While all the heavy lifting was under the pen and ideas of Simon and George, editing the piece proved a remarkable challenge.

The first two stories, Hunted Down and The Poor Artist, were reproduced as originally published, with some minor tweaks to language and racism (no, seriously). The differences in cadence, style and semantics of the written word were really interesting to review and a challenge to maintain consistently throughout the original stories as they varied between works. Replicating and maintaining 1850s vernacular led to many debates over wordchoice, punctuation and meaning. A lot of discussions was spent marvelling at the racism, sexism and classism, challenging current social mores and understandings - can a work still be relevant with these kind of jokes? how far is too far - inevitably leading down a rabbit hole of hyperlinking, researching and vetting, and so. much. reading.
Sample page 

Once we hit the design-heavy, typographical puzzle that was How the Circus Came to Bullocktown editing became even more critical. Words and sentences became design elements, non-fluent and non-linear in their display, so referencing the original text for accuracy became central to the process.

The final two works, The Poor Writer and Hunted Down, were re-envisagings of Clarke's The Poor Artist and Hunted Down. Transported to contemporary Australia, Simon becomes Clarke, and Clarke's creator (see Hunted Down) and poses questions about creativity, authorship, ownership and the value of Art and Literature (big A and big L). We mimicked the action and flow of the original pieces, but updated the technologies, language and style to create two pieces that really challenge our assumptions about contemporary art.

What was most interesting was how little has changed in the last 150 years, particularly in regards to copyright and creativity, but surprising still was the social assumptions still made regarding who has the right to create and how, and it was these two stories that proved the most challenging in tone.

Last, but certainly not least, were small pieces of story-inspired collateral - a circus poster for the Panko-Amercian Circus, a beer coaster for Barclay & Perkins', a business card and website for the hapless Thomas Bull, amongst others. Each piece spoke to the narrative, and in the case of the newspaper review of the circus, moved the story forward.

The individual parts of the work - the stories, the artwork, the collateral, the design, the delivery - come together in a gorgeous piece of art and literature. The stories are imbued with history while simultaneously speaking to the contemporary literary life and exploring how readers engage with story and its subsequent parts.

It's a quirky little book, a beautiful piece of art, and a fantastic piece of literary commentary. I'm really excited to see it get some recognition through the AGDA Awards, and am delighted to have contributed some small part to its creation.

Congrats to Simon and George, and fingers crossed for the awards announcement on 19 November.


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