About Me

My photo
If you like short, fiery, red haired East Londoners who now reside in Norwich that have a penchant for video games, board games and filmmaking then you've come to the right place, my friend. I write a fortnightly column about video games for Forces of Geek and I write, direct, edit and film with Cheesemint Productions, my production company. You can search for us on YouTube, you know how the Internet works, right? This blog, Excuse Me While I Geek Out is a place to collect my column pieces for Forces Of Geek and anything I've written for other websites and publications as well as being a place to write about all things geek. My other blog, For All Or None is a cathartic activity dedicated to my mental health and I write openly and honestly about deeply personal psychological issues that effect me. It's an mental outlet so doesn't necessarily require readers especially as it will no doubt be full of grammatical errors, nonsense and spelling mistakes.

She appears composed, so she is, I suppose

Hi there,

Welcome to this unorganised collection of my writings, thoughts, creative notes and ramblings. It may not be coherent and at times may be a little hard to follow. Such is the nature of language and I'm not writing for anyone else, just myself, in an attempt to organise my thoughts and to aid me with my creative work but please feel free to peruse and comment if you wish to do so.



Sunday, 28 December 2008

How Dare She!?!

How dare I indeed. Let us first take a moment to remember the words of Nietzsche:

"How much truth can a spirit bear, how much truth can a spirit dare..."

I realise that some people may drop their jaws, be stunned, outraged even, that I could ever do such terrible things to a poor defenceless book. How could you?! You might exclaim in anger. Well, please dear reader, calm down, get comfortable and let me explain...

Much like the rest of you bibliophiles out there, I am also of the opinion that books are the ONLY material possession worth caring about (I mean, I even received book ends and a book case for christmas which I am eternally grateful for!) and it saddens me that there are more books in existance than I could ever read! Without books I would go slowly insane!

However, as a bookseller I am also of the opinion that there are thousands of books that aren't worth the paper or the ink they're printed in. This is why I can not bring myself to deface or destroy a book that I actually like. I agree that this is very subjective (bow down to my superior value judgements! Mwahahaha!) even still, I don't care...there is no way I could EVER destroy a creation of Oscar Wilde's or Friedrich Nietzsche's for example, I respect their work far too much (however, destroying a Nietzschean text would be something that you can be sure Nietzsche himself would approve of- if he were still alive!).

The three books I have been experimenting on are no Wildes, oh no, they are trashy, mass-market paperbacks, the kind that I abhor...so I feel completely justified in manipulating them.
However, I have to admit that despite being awful books, I felt such a pang of guilt when I began cutting away at the pages, painting on them and changing the narrative. I felt as if I was some kind of criminal, it felt strangely...wrong. Yet, at the same time incredibly liberating!

I'm not saying that people should start cutting up books for the sake of art...please don't! Take them to a charity shop! Donate them to other people, ANYTHING but destroy them...UNLESS, you know that there are a multitude of copies still in print that are easily available...don't go searching out those rare gems or editions, those are priceless! These are the rules that I've been following anyway...

So, there...I've admitted it, yes I DO cut up books, for that crime I am GUILTY!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas Time- Cameras and Wine!!

I've been a good girl all year and have been rewarded by Santa in the form of a camera so I can finally upload all my pictures and experimenation. Poetry, narrative work, painting, altered books...etc. Enjoy!

The 3 books I've been playing around with!

Painting on books...(left)
My crime novel cut and paste with the Story of O and Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy (Below)

You made a mistake! Damn right he did, by writing an awful crime novel. Well, I put that to rights! (Below!)

Just in case I hadn't mentioned it before...You made a mistake!

Some random cuttings (left) and my scissorwork which leaves much to be desired...I will buy a craft knife soon! (below)

I really like the way the books look with pages spread, extremely tactile, just how a book should be!


A few pages inspired by sentances within the page (watercolour)

More fiction made erotic using corrector fluid!

I do like the way the corrector fluid has dried and become transparent!

Nietzschean Poetry! (Created by cutting out words from The Birth of Tragedy and re-arranging them! I intend to do more of this!)

Poem/Ransom note/Guilt/Confession?!
Who Knows? But I felt it told a story!

I will endeavour to add some more as my project develops! For now, I will enjoy what is left of Christmas with a few more glasses of wine!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Useful Links and Contemporary Examples...

This post is a collection of useful websites I've found that have aided my project but it is also a compilation of contemporary artists that use books as a medium.


Article from an online art magazine


Collection of book art links


International society of altered book artists (ISABA)

Whilst searching for useful links, I came across this quote and Chinese propoganda poster:

"To Read Too Many Books is Harmful"(Mao Zedong)

It made me realise, although I am saddened by the fact there are too many books for me to read in my lifetime; for others, reading books is a punishable offence. In a way, my punishment is that I am free to read all books but I also have the knowledge that it is impossible to do so. This is what I call the eternal dilemma of a bookseller.

The website that the poster comes from is http://chineseposters.net/toomanybooks/index.php
This website is the digital version of an exhibition, which was organised by and held at the libraries of the Sinological Institute (Leiden Univeristy, Netherlands) between 7th December 2004 and 30th June 2005.

This particular website: http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/09/bittersweet-art-of-cutting-up-books.html looks at the "weird and wonderful" and I came across an article called "The Bittersweet Art of Cutting Up Books" It was certainly interesting and has given me knowledge of some contemporary book artists that I had previously been unaware of. For example, Jacqueline Rush Lee and Cara Barer



Another artist is Georgia Russell; http://www.englandgallery.com/artist_group.php?mainId=32&media=Constructions%20%26%20mixed%20media

Su Blackwell is an interesting one, I liked this image so much that I had to show it here too;

I think is beautifully done and has once again made me think about childrens books as a medium on which to experiment. I feel that manipulating the narrative of a childrens story into that of an adult narrative would be highly challenging and would highlight the absurdity in the usage of language in the two genres. By subverting something seen as innocent into something quite shocking I would also be challenging the moral assumptions of my audience as well as their assumptions of what a book (within the boundaries of a certain genre) should be. Thus manipulating not only the books themselves but also the audiences aesthetic experience and perception.

Mike Stilkey is another contemporary artist however he uses the spines of books piles up together as a canvas. This is one way of using books that I had not considered and I might try out this technique especially as I have been known to organise my book collection by not only author surname but colour of spine also!


Jim Rosenau's work makes me laugh and by using books themselves as a book shelf transforms
them into furniture. This suggests to me that Rosenau is possibly making a reference that too many people see books as furniture or merely to decorate a room.
His humour appeals to me especially as I prefer to act in ways which amuse me or produce art that makes me laugh regardless of how subjective the joke often is. Doing something for the sake of fun or amusement is important especially when I am focusing on a medium which holds such a significance to my very being. Books are about entertainment and so I appreciate work which can blend subtle humour but also celebrate books as art.

His website is one worth looking at: http://www.thisintothat.com/
Dark Roasted Blend has proved one of the most useful sites so far and it has another article which looks at book sculpture: http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2007/08/unusual-books.html
These sites have given me a lot to think about and I will continue my experimentation over the next month using the techniques I have learnt about. I need to also research the alteration of words and perhaps the different ways I can alter narrative.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Progress is a wonderful thing...

Last week, engaging in a group crit with everyone else on my course I discovered that I've made much more progress than I had realised. Something I had done for fun to make myself laugh was to tipex over words from a book to create an erotic story. This was done purely out of amusement yet everyone seemed to like it. It makes me realise that sometimes the things you dislike or dismiss end up being the best ideas.

Still, I now have the necessary fuel I need, I suppose I'd lost my confidence since I've been out of art for a while. I'd forgotten that art doesn't have to mean painting or drawing and I was reminded of my conceptual piece on 'Dreams' when I was back at school. I used my dream diary and painted excerpts and imagery from my dreams onto persplex and hung them, layering them and at different heights. At the time I felt like it wasn't really art and never really liked it but perservered because my tutors encouraged me to continue. I felt like it wasn't art yet it was. Strange that through retrospect I now realise that it was my best piece of art work yet, I mean I was commenting upon the nature of dreams and reality, the transparency or opaqueness of our subconscious but I didn't know enough about psychology at the time. If I had then maybe I would have enjoyed it more. I mean, I enjoyed creating the erotic story by editing and deleting the words in a book because it made me laugh and because it links in with Nietzschean philosophy; the destruction needed to create something new and also the absurdity of language; how everything is a metaphor for something else. I always feel frustrated that every thing I seem to do or say or read becomes Nietzschean but then it makes perfect sense. I would explain further but the whole point of Nietzsche's writing is that it can not be summarised into neat little bullet points, you have to read him to truly understand him and if I tried to explain his ideas, they somehow become changed, their meaning is lost and to an extent even just reading his work it is lost, language is far more complex than we may realise and creates more problems than it solves...reminds me of Depeche Mode! Check out the lyrics of Enjoy the Silence http://www.metrolyrics.com/enjoy-the-silence-lyrics-depeche-mode.html
especially "Words are meaningless and forgettable"...I suppose this fits in with my book art project now, more than ever. Which reminds me, I'm going to have to buy some more corrector fluid (it's Tip-ex but not as we know it!- yeah so, I'm beginning to waffle and should stop now)

I guess I should end this entry by pointing out that all this looking back and reminiscing has made me see that the reflexive research we've been encouraged to do throughout the Core Unit and group crit is a lot more beneficial than I had at first realised!

Progress is wonderful but retrospect is also a wonderful thing...
(As is Nietzsche's writing!)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

And So It Continues...

My art therapy project has been put on hold for a while due it's highly personal nature. The things that rose to the surface were too unpleasant to deal with just yet. This doesn't mean I'm giving up for good- I'm far too interested in art therapy to do that! Due to personal reasons among other things I've switched my course to part-time, meaning i now have 2 years instead of 1 to muse over my work and develop my ideas more naturally.This pleases me as I do not feel quite so pressured, it's actually led to more creativity! (Thus proving that art does have strong links to emotional wellbeing and reinforcing the fact that art can be therapeutic!- see I can't possibly ignore it!)
I'm concentrating or focusing rather, on altered books and book art. So far I've done some watercolour paintings of some of my favourite novels, a selection of paintings, also watercolour, directly onto pages of books. I've also used a craft knife to cut shapes into pages and cut out words/sentences etc. This particular creative practitioners site has been particularly handy:


As well as this I have been using corrector fluid or tip-ex to erase text within some of the books to create a new narrative or just confuse the meaning of the text. I will try and get a digital camera so that I can upload some pictures soon!
I'm going to explore the juxtaposition of words and meaning by altering a non-fiction title as a comment upon assumed truths within written language. I feel my previous philosophy degree will help with this aspect and I may even write a seperate blog entry about the philosophical implications- although, don't old me to that! My thoughts flutter around in my mind like a million butterflies!
Alongside this, I'd quite like to explore the tactile element of books as touch and feel of a book is extremely important. To do this I am going to look at textile elements of design. Preliminary, I intend to create soft furnishings based upon pages of books such as curtains, a tablecloth and perhaps some pillowcases- although i guess i'll see what i can manage within the timescale (note to self: be realistic emma!).A few more trips to some charity shops are definitely in order, I need to find some more books to play with!
Ahhh...so my creativity has returned like a long lost family pet (you always knew it'd remain loyal despite the times when you'd given up all hope, torn down the "lost" posters you so pain-stakingly put up and even thought of acquiring a new pet!- how could you?!!). Upon it's return I've relaxed, I'm comforted by it's presence, I now feel less stressed and able to handle the MA! Good times!

The Absurdity of Language and Art Therapy

And so it begins...

Currently working on a number of projects for my MA course.Thinking about the absurdity of language and words.Wondering whether I'm hungry or thirsty, or both.Embarking on a highly psychological test of strength.Contemplating the contents of my proposal.
One of my projects is exploring the relationship between the self (individual ego) and society (collective ego) through art therapy- in short, I've decided to document a series of art therapy exercises. This is going well in so far as I'm being more productive- I have something concrete to do- a task, or series of, (I guess I dislike the freedom of my actions sometimes). While I enjoy being productive and I feel as if I'm not just wasting my time I'm also feeling a tad anxious at what my "self-therapy" will dredge up from the depths of my subconscious. Already (that's a week and a half of exercises) I'm starting to realise that there are a number of issues I haven't dealt with, emotional issues. The kind that you push to the back of your mind because you've got shit to do, people to see, places to go and an appointment on tuesday. Little did I know that I have issues with myself sexually, issues with my own femininity and repressed feelings relating to my position within my family unit. Woo! 10 points for emotional fuck-uppery
Let me explain, I'm only documenting this "blog" (I fucking hate that word by the way) because I want to be able to look back at it in some future time and reflect on my therapeutic process and/or/most likely think, "what a fool I was" and smile because I know things now that I didn't then and that makes me feel extremely smug. Future me has kicked past me (or should that be present me?) in the shin. Future will know that it was all necessary of course...she's not a complete arrogant fuck you know.Anyhow, every inch of myself wants to ditch this art therapy idea because it's too personal but what got me interested in this was a musing on autobiography, we had a few sessions about it at uni and some of the readings I had got me thinking about the truth in biography/autobiography. Or more accurately the intense battle between the two for validity and truth.
Biographies have this air of being inaccurate or false in some way, people do not trust ghost writers or unofficial biographies. It's easy to see why, maybe too easy, they haven't been written by the person in question, who knows the fuller, truer account. Yet, often, autobiographies are flawed. Every act, when made external, whether it's writing or conversing is aware of it's own existence in the exterior world; it has a place like everything else and it knows it does. What I mean is we can't escape the influence of our external world, the pressures of society are constantly upon us. Everything we do depends on where we are, who we are around and who might be watching. whether it's some God-like being, an authority figure such as a police officer or the guy down the road who you happen to find extremely attractive and you hope will notice you as you play with your hair and pout seductively as you're bringing the milk in on a sunday morning.
We're too quick to judge and attack biographies for being second hand knowledge despite the fact they are more factual than autobiographies which tend to be fictitious in narrative and style. The author knows and is aware that his or her work/documentation will be read so will often without realising it will edit, elaborate and exaggerate the truth in order to entertain their reader. The 3rd person view is better placed to state the facts whereas the 1st person is too interwined and tangled up in their own life to be able to document it objectively. Although maybe this is where the problem lies? We seek knowledge and truth and assume it will be objective. Perhaps we should see the truth in the subjective 1st person accounts. Quite the Nietzschean perspective I guess; everything is a metaphor for something else, knowledge is relative and all that...interesting to see where this project will take me.
My other project on the other hand is about the absurdity of words and language and also comes from my musings on autobiography. Not sure how I'm going to go about it yet but I want to explore the strengths and weaknesses of visual language versus written or spoken word. This project has to be about the self so I'm thinking about perhaps looking at my favourite works of fiction as reading is a big part of my life and finding ways to explore their meaning visually. My job as a bookseller will hopefully aid me in some way...at least that's the plan batman.

See my next blog entry for an update: