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 part of the publication that is about being about, this one. It’s not that publications without an about section are annoying – at times they sort of, kind of, and definitely are – it’s that the about gives the reader a chance to read something else.

Without the about, the reader wouldn’t know that the publishers of this zine are Helsinki-based, or that they initiate projects that exist in the margins of architecture and design, or that their website is built using Indexhibit – though maybe in the future they would like to update it into something else (selim.fi/about). There’s no chance of knowing that S’lim Zine has two different International Standard Serial Numbers, or that each issue is deliberately restricted to 36 A4 sized pages,1 or that #6 is about Helsinki – without the about.  

Background: At some point, while living in Helsinki (about four years now), I started to introduce hard rules into my everyday practice.2 For instance, before starting a new project I always get a cut regardless of my hair’s length or the time since last visiting a barber. While I’m living, visiting, or theorizing in Helsinki, another rule stipulates that no two cuts will be done by the same person. In the run-up to this issue of S’lim, a friend helped me book an appointment with their regular hair handler but warned – this is a true story – that I would need to come prepared with instructions. Was this some sort of game or a barrier put in place to avoid small talk? Further rules would dictate (the Cutter’s now) that a Cuttee is not permitted to start a conversation, comment on the job mid-cut, or make a gesture resembling any kind of communication. Luckily, I paid heed by bringing each of us something to read; instructions for the barber (however flawed) and a library loan3 to pass the time in silence.

What came about from that experience was something of a theoretical framework for S’lim 6. Sitting in the barber’s seat I arrived at a passage citing page 499 from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. It read, “If I surround an area with a fence or a line or otherwise, the purpose may be to prevent someone from getting in or out; but it may also be part of a game and the players be supposed, say, to jump over the boundary.” This lead to the question of how contributors navigate boundaries – whether they are hard rules or games or instructions or barriers or frames or borders or otherwise.4 
Knowing already what the publishers were about – namely, projects occurring in the margin – getting them on board was about as easy as not getting them on board. The contributors too replied generously sharing unpublished works, previously published works, and other responses5 for the occasion.

About the contributions, I’ll write this: language, education and practice are three themes that lend us some definition. Within them, further boundaries are explored, such as the borders of fiction/non-fiction, understanding/misunderstanding, and official/artificial space. They include course assignments, writing and photo assignments, and other self-directed assignments. There are self-imposed restrictions with regards to writing, drawing and performance. And there are other performative parameters involving object-oriented scores and directions.

Having read the about6 now is your chance to read something else. Without the about we know that the reader wouldn’t know much about anything. And this might be what the Wittgenstein passage was originally going on about – a boundary line alone is not yet a barrier nor a game, not any one thing. But if anything is only one thing, it’s annoying. Boundaries start to get interesting when we can read what they are about because the about always leads to something else. A boundary that is about, say, preventing small talk from getting in or out, will always be about more than one thing. So if this is the part of the text that is about being the end, then I know it can also be the beginning of something else. 

Further technical restrictions were dictated by the printer (Risograph RP 3700). For example, its print area limits ink coverage inside a 5-8mm border on A3 sheets of paper (four A4 pages). As a result, the border emphasises the edges of the page and maintains the 297mm × 210mm characteristic of a S’LIM.

Background information is about-like (the part of the picture that appears furthest from the eye), falling here between the without and the about.

Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary by Marjorie Perloff (1996); one of two copies available from the Helsinki University library.

This editorial too was made under the following instructions: write approximately 500 words that will 1) introduce a new word into circulation, 2) replace all cases of explanation with description, and 3) attribute the text to a fictional author.

Hi Emery. So, this sounds cool...I’m interested in ideas A and C, not B. Which of A or C interests you more?

Hi Spencer. Happy to hear that you're into trying one of the more experimental ideas. I like C cause it has some hard rules baked into it. Answers are the given variable instead of the questions, one of us selects the answers while the other invents the questions, and so on.

The word about, appears 27 times including 13 prepositions, nine nouns, three proper nouns and two adverb.