On redaction

I feel it’s probably important to include a short explanation of my approach to redaction in this site. While I go into detail about the process of setting up a format to use which was designed in part to avoid redaction in my book chapter about this project ‘As if unobserved’ (bibliographic details at the end of this post), redaction has nevertheless been necessary here and there in these pages for a few reasons.

  1. Monthly and weekly planners are redacted because I find the hybrid books are more useful in their diary function if I have an easily accessible space where I can plan with full names, birthday reminders etc. as well as the more restricted information on each published page.
  2. Sometimes I like to include photographs in my books simply for my own pleasure in remembering. The books are a personal record as well as being public record and functional documents. Some of these are images which feel personal in some way, which might reveal private data such as someone’s birthday, or which represent someone who does not really have a public persona. These are therefore obscured to preserve privacy while allowing me to retain the book itself as a more personal record
  3. I made an error and wrote out somebody’s name or made a note of someone’s birthday, telephone number or other information that might intrude upon their privacy

In some cases, redaction of names may perhaps feel like overkill – to anyone who is familiar with Bastard Assignments, the initials E, J and T are self-explanatory, so it may feel ridiculous to obscure the names, and likewise when writing a piece for a particular performer, it may seem overly cautious to redact that performer’s name back to initials. However, as I processed the books for the initial launch I found that I ended up with a bit of a private/public conundrum.

The line between public and private

The problem is that I work with my friends, and I socialise with my colleagues, and very often the line between ‘out enjoying myself’ and ‘working on a piece’ is blurry. How much of other people’s lives am I entitled to share out in the open on these pages? And then who is OK with this and who is not? And how do I keep track of it all? Ultimately, in the interests of protecting anyone I work with who may be uncomfortable with detail about them being available in public, and for simplicity’s sake, I decided to reduce all names to initials, regardless of whether the context is work-related or if their identities are obvious or not. This way, I do not need to analyse each occurrence of a name to work out whether its existence is relevant to a composition or not.

I feel that this decision is principally rooted in how I feel these books may be useful – that the focus here is on how and when ideas developed, how did work fit around other commitments. While the aspect of other people’s contributions and presence is important, in the context of my thoughts about these books, it feels more important to know that someone said something that influenced the course of a piece I was making – that an outside influence occurred, rather than that this particular individual contributed this exact concept. There are many people who contribute ideas which become something in my work, but that trail is probably harder to follow or to acknowledge thoroughly in this format, so it is not something I have tried to do, even while absolutely valuing those contributions.

However this concept may well be at odds with how this site is to be used, and it is entirely possible that the redactions feel like they obscure whatever it is you in particular are seeking here. If this is the case, or if you have Thoughts about what I’ve said here, please leave a comment below – I’m very interested in discovering how other people feel about this.

Reference

Rowley, C. (2021) ‘As If Unobserved: Experiments towards a publicly visible composition practice’, in Brooks, W. (ed.) Experience Music Experiment: Pragmatism and Artistic Research. Ghent: Orpheus Institute (Orpheus Institute Series).

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