Surfacing the Page is a design research project that reveals how a novel was written is through a series of visual experiments. We work with the manuscripts of Aboriginal writer, historian, and activist Ruby Langford Ginibi’s first book, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (1988), a recount of her life story. This collection of papers is held at the State Library of New South Wales and consists of six manuscripts that range from a folder titled ‘messy draft’ to a final draft.
To surface the processural nature of writing and give insight into how the final text was produced, we identify actions (not germane to the body of the text) such as deletions, copy edits, unique symbols, numbering, and editorial commentary. These actions are visually reinterpreted through processes of isolation and reordering, resulting in a set of visualisations that range from the gestural to diagrammatic.
This critical design practice sits alongside textual criticism whose intention is not to invite a close reading of the text but to provide insight into the writing process.
This project has been presented at conferences in Australia (UWS 2018) and Sweden (Uppsala University 2017). A series of invited talks were given at The National Archives Kew, UK (2017), Icarus International Centre for Archives and Records Management at UCL (2017) and Goldsmiths London (2017).
Surfacing the Page is a collaborative project with Professor Maryanne Dever, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UTS. With thanks to Kristelle De Freitas, (design research assistant) the Ginibi family, Dr Rachel Franks and the State Library of New South Wales.