Related news: An additional layer to your reading
Errata slips uses the standard erratum slip format to explore ideas around truth and authenticity by adding false information to real publications in the form of fictional texts related to real page references and real lines of text.
Several false errata slips will be developed by micro fiction writer David Gaffney and inserted into the pages of periodicals in Cornerhouse bookshop. Each erratum slip will relate to a page of content in the magazine and will add a fictional dimension to the publication, disrupting the reader’s engagement with the text, and throwing into doubt the veracity of what they are reading. The periodicals, which will have a month or a quarter’s shelf life, will be identified on publication and the texts developed quickly and then inserted.Comment or See their profileClick here to read more
Writer David Gaffney was born West Cumbria and now lives in Manchester. He has published several short stories collections (Sawn Off Tales , Aromabingo, The Half Life of Songs), one novel (Never Never) and has written articles for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times and Prospect magazine
David specialises in litterature in unusual formats and settings, with project and collaborations including
- Buildings Crying Out, a story using lost cat posters (Lancaster litfest 2009),
- 23 Stops To Hull a set of stories about every junction on the M62 (Humber Mouth festival 2009)
- Sawn off opera, a set of operas with composer Ailis Ni Riain (Radio Three, RNCM, Liverpool philharmonic and tete a tete festival London 2010 )
- Destroy PowerPoint, stories in PowerPoint format for Edinburgh festival 2009, the Poole Confessions stories told in a mobile confessional box (Poole Literature festival 2010)
- Station Stories, in which six writer linked to the audience with wireless headphones performed short stories in Manchester Piccadilly railway station (Manchester Literature Festival 2011)
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Mistakes, mishapes, misfits
‘On page two, column three, line seven, the writer of the report implies that Mr X embezzled funds from the carnival’s account and used them to pay for his own private expenses. This statement is unfounded and the writers wish to apologise and to point out that there is no evidence of any untoward practice regarding the carnival’s accounts by any member of the carnival committee.’
The above statement was printed on a small oblong of paper and inserted into an annual report about a carnival project. It was headed errata slip. It was the only section of the carnival report I ever read, but I’ve always remembered it. The fact that it had been stuffed manually into every edition of this report and that, rather than reprinting the whole document, the decision was taken to use the old errata slip technique fascinated me. This errata slip drew more attention to the mistake than if the mistake had been left standing. I now believed the bloke probably did nick money off that carnival. I pictured sad lorries with bare patches where expensive crepe paper should have been. But who knew the truth? Is everything we see written down true? Mistakes, misprints, wobbles of the pen. Even the fact that it is called an errata slip implies another mistake on top of the first one. What if the errata slips had mistakes too? What if they weren’t true and some mischievous person had inserted them? Maybe the man who nicked the money had been inserting them into the publications wherever he found them.
This is what the internet says about errata slips:
‘Errata, lists of errors and their corrections, may take the form of loose, inserted sheets or bound-in pages. An errata sheet is definitely not a usual part of a book. It should never be supplied to correct simple typographical errors (which may be rectified in a later printing) or to insert additions to, or revisions of, the printed text (which should wait for the next edition of the book). It is a device to be used only in extreme cases where errors severe enough to cause misunderstanding are detected too late to correct in the normal way but before the finished book is distributed. Then the errors may be listed with their locations and their corrections on a sheet that is tipped in, either before or after the book is bound, or laid in loose, usually inside the front cover of the book. (Tipping and inserting must be done by hand, thus adding considerably to the cost of the book.)’
So since finding that particular errata slip, I’ve always had an interest in the format. I like the analogueness of it. Shakespeare’s folios were amended all the time and each one is completely different. I looked forward to seeing more slips in other publications.
But I never did. The errata slip, it turns out, is a forgotten art. In the digital age, cock-ups are corrected as we go. Websites are amended by the minute, and no trace of the error remains: mistakes are blasted off into the ether like damned souls to fester somewhere among all the other lies, insinuations, factual errors, clumsy metaphors and bad writing, next to the putrescent lake of rotting tehs and forms and adns.
As well as a casual obsession with errata slips, I have an interest in guerrilla publishing, or story-putting ‑ leaving a piece of text somewhere people are likely to find it. Like the opposite of shoplifting. For example, why not sneak into Waterstone’s and insert your short story into someone else’s collection? Ali Smith sells a lot, try hers. Or just leave copies lying around in cafes or garages or piano accordion centres. Ambush narratives are the way to go. So with these two things in mind, when I spotted Cornerhouse Manchester’s Micro Commissions project I saw my chance: Cornerhouse had a bookshop full of magazines aching for me to insert my lies between their freshly inked leaves. I would identify the best-selling publications and write fictional errata slips for all of them. Cornerhouse bookshop manager Tim identified the top ten sellers as ICON, Sight & Sound, Art Review, The Wire, Little White Lies, Frieze, Adbusters, Crafts, Source and Radical Philosophy, and I worked out the publication dates and was ready to go.
Each magazine presented different challenges. Source magazine forced me to develop a character for the person inserting the slips and a reason for placing the false errata in the magazine. The errata slip for Sight & Sound became a way for a young woman to declare her passion for a man who read the magazine. In Frieze magazine, the text of an article about Ryan Trecartin is disrupted by a homeless man telling us how he took up residence in one of Trecartin’s immersive art installations. Art Review was the most difficult magazine to make fun of; it was like trying to have a laugh at the expense of the wittiest boy in the class. I spent some time underlining phrases in an article about a day in the life of a conceptual artist, but the article turned out to be an ironic joke and the artist fake. Halfway through an ‘interview’ with a philosopher, I discovered the philosopher had died 200 years ago and the interview was a sham. How do you add an ironic post-modern layer to something that’s already so ironic and post-modern it’s racing back to meet itself on the other side? The Wire magazine, however, was a gift. Amidst tiny-fonted trainspottery articles about micro-tonal tuba music, I found a complaint on the letters page about the lack of dress sense exhibited by artist Christian Marclay. So I wrote a dress code for imaginary sub-genres of electronic music which in the end we inserted into The Chap magazine because The Wire was poly-bagged.
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A new dimension to your reading...
At the end of the project, I turned all the errata slips into ultra-short stories which you can read a selection of below. I hope you like them. A massive thanks to Sarah Leech and Tim Sheehan at Cornerhouse for their help in making the project happen.
THE WIRE MAGAZINE
Wire magazine dress code
1. People who work at the intersection of sculpture and sound must keep the midriff covered, and trouser suits must be full length and of matching material and colour. No spaghetti straps.
2. A squonk-step artist may remove his top hat within a restaurant.
3. Clothing that works well for the beach, yard work, dance clubs and sports contests may not be appropriate for micro-tonal tuba trios.
4. Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, your chest, your feet, your stomach or your underwear is not appropriate for grindient.
5. The clothing of folktronica artists should be pressed and never wrinkled. All seams must be finished.
6. Drone-wash artists may wear slacks that are similar to Dockers OR flannel pants OR dressy capris. Nice looking ‘dress’ synthetic pants are also acceptable.
7. Musique-concrete artists should avoid sweatpants, bib overalls, spandex and form-fitting leggings.
8. Short, tight skirts that ride halfway up the thigh should be worn AT ALL TIMES for forest dub core.
9. Turtlenecks are acceptable for drummers in a free-improvisational situation.
10. Jeans are defined as blue or black cotton trousers with visible rivets. Female micro-bionic sound artists may wear these if the rivets are hidden by an untucked shirt.
11. For ladies working in the field of Turkish psychedelia only formal day dress with a hat or substantial fascinator is acceptable.
SIGHT & SOUND MAGAZINE
The only acceptable art form
He gets the Finglands 42 and reads Sight & Sound which is great because film is the only art form it’s acceptable for a proper man to be interested in. I sat behind him and watched him read about Lars Von Trier. He has a thick beard but I could see his lips pursing in agreement with the text. Another day I listened to him chatting on his phone about a jacket with ‘frogmouth’ pockets. Rough men have a natural interest in clothes and ‘style’.
One day he glanced at me when I was standing next to his seat waiting to get off.
I smiled. ‘Finglands buses, I love them. The way they vibrate at the stops.’
He shot his eyebrows up and smiled. He looks like he lives in a tunnel and eats rust. That’s good. I don’t want some pussy who smells of Shake n’ Vac and won’t keep his cheese in the fridge.
When you follow someone it’s good to make your steps in time with theirs. It makes you feel like they must feel as they walk. He walks slowly. I like a man who walks slowly.
I imagine we are on the night bus and there’s only us and it breaks down and suddenly it’s not Fallowfield it’s up on the moors and we are going WTF, and the wind is howling and the driver who looks like Mackenzie Crook goes for help and then we are alone and he pins me down on the greasy floor.
Yesterday he rang. Semen oozed out of the speaker. I imagined him leaning against scaffolding like a chained-up white rhino on Relentless. I’ve tried dating sites but the men there can’t even spell Led Zeppelin.
RADICAL PHILOSOPHY MAGAZINE
The periphery is everywhere
I said Birmingham was a phony, chain-infected ‘visitor attraction’ shithole.
She said it’s an urbanism steeped in the increasingly non-linear capitalist production of ‘themed’ urban atmospheres.
I said Birmingham ripped out my heart and crushed my soul.
She said a city is always an ex-post reality.
I said too much heavy metal music has made them all stupid.
She said nature has re-emerged in the very substance of the city itself – it’s urbanism as nature’.
I said it’s just one slimy concrete mushpile.
She said the periphery is everywhere.
I said it was your anxiety that made me anxious and that’s why I droned on with my tedious unfunny anecdotes.
She said it’s an anxiety which prevents simple phemomena from being described simply.
I said when you dumped me and I was suddenly single no one asked me to come for drinks they just sneaked off and met up without telling me and then I’d go home and literally cry on my own.
She said emotions are triggered by constructed atmospheres of urbanity.
I said Come Dine With Me helps me to forget.
She said culture is the thick opaque substance that separates us from phenomena outside our control.
I said your intellectual resentment of me became so big I could get inside it and walk around.
She said emotions can have spatial characteristics; experience is a kind of ambulation that concatenates multiple overlapping relations.
She said when you watch Newsnight you look like a cat watching contemporary dance.
I said the felt reality of experience is interwoven at the fringes of perception with the conjunctively structured envelope of waveforms.
She said you’re getting the hang of this now.