For this month’s installation, Norwich musician and artist Gem is offering a booklet of hand-lettering illustrations and a series of unique drawings on small cards. “These two things are both part of a larger strategy to do with examining the context of language. The booklet, “Back-Atcha Chorus, You Hard Chorus, I’m Godless For Snatches, Bleakly Car-Darkened On A Lozenge”, “Some Bandaged Mystery, Cotching In Corinthinan Spit™ And I’m Toggling Spines ’til Gox-uary”, “O.K. “Drenched Regolith”, I’ll Catastrophise Sparse Naturals… For Heelys! And For Bait-Drenched America”, “The Fuckin’ Consequence-Free Rotisserie Buttress Married My “How My Wife And Child Perceive Me” D-ring Set w/ Knives”, “Toxic Heel-Toe Goblet Wasted An Enneagram” and “In The “Rescue” of Oxnard Spelling, Faxing a Spaniel (Or Collapsing A Spelling, Or Faxing Your Daughter) Is A Rat Cum Spelling”, is all about different ways you can contextualise the same string of meaningless language. Those strings of words are listed three times in the book, on the cover as the title/contents, in the drawings themselves, and as captions. And since it’s the title, you get to see them whenever the book is referred to, as headings or as strings of body text as you see it above. I’m interested in what it means to style words within certain conventions, what it does to them and how it colours our interpretation of their meanings.
The drawings, on the other hand, are about individual recontextualisations of words, rather than repeatedly moving around the same phrases. Each card is different, it only happens once. I enjoy imagining the card not as a surface onto which i am drawing, but instead as a freestanding object that I’m drawing on the outside of. Some but not all of the drawings come with folds to connect it up with other parts of itself. It was rewarding designing one-offs for a 50p pricetag, it led to a more relaxed intuitive approach. I think they feel fun and friendly whereas the booklet is more… inscrutable, perhaps.
When I first made the booklet, I gave a copy to one of my friends, and we barely talked for months afterwards because he was convinced I’d encoded messages in it specifically to convey how annoying I found him personally. I would never do that, but I think it’s amazing somebody thought I was capable of that. Anyway thats the vibe the booklet gives I guess.
Gem is an artist who has recently released the second instalment of their comic book series, Big Old Absconded Cress World II. They also perform and release music as Gemini Eye, including the 2020 album Murdered Arc Remains and form half of Ninetales Collective with Honor Ash.
Gem can be found on the web at gem.rip or Instagram here