Cut Ups

Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust – John Webster

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=true&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”150″ iframe=”true” /]

A series based on first pages of classic novels. It is an attempt at found poetry, and obfuscation of the original, so well-known, texts. It is also a work which pushes boundaries in ‘fair-use’ of (sometimes) copyright material. The USA and UK (and other countries) have quite different legal approaches to fair use doctrine which involves reproduction of copyright material and collage. In the UK this is yet to be tested definitively by caselaw in court.

Material research:

  1. I tried to do this manually with a 21a Swann Morton scalpel but the typography is so tight that that are too fragile to survive the process.
  2. I also explored lasercutting but the material is too thin and the laser again (ironically) cannot be fine-tuned enough to deliver a complete cut.
  3. Other options (which would enable approaches in 1 & 2) involve typesetting each page with more leading and word spacing but I wanted to make use of original copies which negates this.

The final decision made was to cut the work with a ‘digital scalpel’. The final effect should be as a real knife cut – if not finer. This is the method being used to remove all the unwanted texts.

Working titles include:

  • 1984
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Great Expectations
  • On the Road
  • War of the Worlds
  • The Trial
  • Wuthering Heights
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Jane Eyre
  • The Time Machine

Any comments on this project please Contact me.

Status: Work in progress
Year: 2008+
Website: n/a

George Melly’s obit in The Guardian is worth reading.