Emery L. Norton is a graphic designer and editor who writes under the false name C.M. Ellen.

1    Graphic Design

Focus: publications, exhibition graphics and websites with an emphasis on concept and typography.

2    Writing

Almost Improv: Interview with Filmmaker Gary Burns, Autumn 2018; on the occasion of screening “Kitchen Party” (1997), for Selim Projects. 

The Midden: Press Release, Autumn 2018; for Garret Publications

Try To Act As If You Don’t Know, Autumn 2018; review of the publication “OASE #100: Karel Martens and the Architecture of the Journal”, for Arkkitehti (Finnish Architectural Review)

A Table With Three Legs, Summer 2018; conceptual reading of Alvar Aalto’s Stool 60, for “The Lives of Others” exhibition catalogue at Factory Gallery in Seoul 

From Without to About to Something Else, Summer 2018; S’lim Zine #6 editorial, for Selim Projects 

Footnotes For The Reader: Interview with Leevi Lehto, Summer 2018; accompanying the preface to “Alussa oli Kääntäminen: 2000-luvun poetiikkaa” (In the Beginning Was Translation: A 21st Century Poetics), for S’lim Zine #6

A Vacuum Cleaner Is For Cleaning Except When It Is Not, Spring 2017; short fiction making up the artistic component of the MA thesis from Aalto Univeristy, under the mentorship of Stuart Bertolotti-Bailey 

Portraits Probably, Spring 2016; workshop at Design Museum Helsinki on the ocassion of the exhibition “Daniel Palillo”, for Helsinki New and Pre Helsinki  

Contact: e-mail, phone, text message, instagram

Design news: typesetting the book of essays “Salt in the Wound: Encounters with Comtemporary Artists Across Europe” by curator Jurriaan Benschop, for Garret Publications; collaborative redesign of the magazine “Arkkitehti”,  for the Finnish Architectural Review; exhibition graphics and publication on Minna Canth, for Teatterimuseo.

Non-design news: Copyediting the recipes of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Antto Melasniemi (Bastard Brothers) for their forthcoming cookbook (2019); Editing a forthcoming serial publication that pairs archival interviews with newly commissioned texts (ongoing until Spring 2020), for Design Museum Helsinki.

News regarding relevant leisure activities, a.k.a. hobbies, a.k.a. personal research: a wordbook on translation titled “Abandon Abandon” and a perpetual calendar based on the work of Russian graphic artist R. Naiden.

Old news: Master of Arts graduate from Aalto University under the mentorship of Stuart Bertolotti-Bailey; national recognition from the Graphic Designers of Canada, the Design Exchange: Canada’s Design Museum and Grafia’s Vuoden Huiput.

Header icon: the top of the page is a revolving space with a dual function; it displays work (either discarded drafts or excerpts from published projects) and it adds navigation to the site (linking to *this* page on mobile and to the top of the design page on desktop). Currently on display is a drawing from p.21 of the publication “Yearbook of Exhibitions 2016–17: Harald Herlin Learning Centre”.


The first time Ulysses appeared in Finnish (Odysseus, 1964) the translator of that novel, Pentti Saarikoski, consulted an instruction manual that today would be considered quite flawed, or at least out of date. Can you describe how your own translation of Ulysses (2012) and the one that came before it have been influenced by two different notions of contemporary literature?

    Leevi Lehto   
I’ve said somewhere, half-jokingly, that Saarikoski’s Odysseus may come close to what Joyce’s Ulysses might have turned into should Ezra Pound have had his editorial way with it. As it happens, I have lately, as part of a (nowadays) rare literary assignment (I’m preparing for print a Finnish translation of  Pound’s Pisan Cantos by Kari Aronpuro – a great translation by a great poet), come to do some reading in and around Pound’s translations of the Chinese classics, especially Confucius – and am struck by how similar Pound’s and Joyce’s initial approaches to the questions of language are, and how diametrically opposed they turn once the question of “good government” (more like Pound’s term this, in Ulysses, see especially Chapters 7, “Aielos” and 12, “Cyclops”) gets raised. Both authors are acutely aware of problems caused by errors, misstatements and -understandings, etc, but where one opts for an attempt to rectify them, the other’s choice is to tolerate, accept, rejoice, even celebrate them, both aesthetically, and politically, I’d say. And yes, here, in my view, lies also the fundamental difference between our two translations. Of course the case in point here is Chapter 16, my favorite, where, practically speaking, none of the hundreds if not thousands of Joyce’s intentional blunders made their way into Saarikoski’s translation. This was perhaps partly due to his lack of skills in English, which simply prevented him from seeing the blunders as what they are – but then, unlike me, he didn’t have the benefit of getting them readily listed and categorized by preceding native scholar-readers. Yet in the end it is the difference pointed out by the joke in my essay title – between an attempt to “purify the language of the tribe” (and that of the scribe, I should add), and an urge at “plurifying the languages of the trite” (and, yes, of the scribe, too).

If one’s mission is to make visible the misunderstandings in literature and in culture at large—to make us more tolerable of those ‘mistakes’—could more instructions (rules, guidelines, boundaries, etc.) be helpful in this pursuit? In theory, would this provide more chances to translate, interpret, and misread each other?  

Your question reminds me of the numerous sets on instructions I came to translate during my days as (also) a business translator (of course, for the translator, the text of  the original is always a set of instructions as such, but let’s not go there now). One job in special stays fondly in memory. I was assigned by Oy Veikkaus Ab—the Finnish Lottery Company – to translate the Instruction Manual (a rather bulky volume) for the first ever computerized lottery sales terminal, provided by a big American company. This was one of the rare cases where, as a translator, I’ve had a chance to intimately share the reading experience as well – together with the staff members of the sales headquarters, and the Americans standing by, we spent a whole afternoon trying, with the help of my draft translation, to print out the first lottery ticket with the first prototype of the terminal (it might have been the only one in the country yet). I can tell it wasn’t easy. And when we finally succeeded, my translation wasn’t what it had been before the experiment. This was an instructive (pun unintended) reminder of how error-prone perhaps all written instructions are compared to, let’s say, manual (unintended again) guidance. But does this answer your question? Yes, I think so, in the affirmative. – Another time I was a candidate to translate the 1500 (or was it 3000) page manual for the Hornet fighters the Finnish army was about to acquire, only to be disqualified –  not because of lack of translation skills or flying experience, but because of my Communist past. The instructiveness of this eludes me though.

Assignments and instructions are both defined by a narrow set of restrictions but the former seems to come charged with a sense of urgency (in your case spawning a number of completed essays). What makes the assignment more productive than the instruction?

I think the answer lies in the type of restrictions / constraints. With writing assignments, these often include the time and place of publication, as well as – in case of magazines and like – a more than usually fixed sense of the readership. With these come certain implied expectations as to the “impact” of the finished text – those of “newness” or “freshness”, “relevance”, “surprise” etc. Add to this the readily given theme, if not exact title, of your essay – almost everything is set and done, except for the writing itself, and the (sometimes minimal) change in the “point-of-view”, or “angle” that will make it possible. It is, indeed, very much about “finding a problem for the solution”. The urgency comes from having to do by yourself something that’s already been done for you.

If exile from a particular place is the only way to understand / misunderstand it, does your rule apply to disciplines as well? Is it the case, that the more one distances themselves from the traditions of literature (film, design, etc.), the more those traditions become a part of the work?

It does. It is. And I should add that all this is built and written in the very concept of tradition. You can only join it by distancing yourself, by acknowledging it as a thing of, yes, distant past.