Moby Dick by Rosemary Heather

November 17, 2015 to January 21, 2016

Can one legitimately claim authorship over a novel that was written by someone else, generations before her? Can the new “author” lay title to writing that has received literary acclamation and has come to define a nation’s history – a country she isn’t from?

Rosemary Heather’s Moby Dick presents word for word Herman Melville’s classic novel first published in the mid 19th century. Her Moby Dick is the same as the original; there are no changes to Melville’s words. Heather relishes each word, lingers on them, offering them one at a time.

Heather’s Moby Dick is new writing in its form. She presents the novel in its totality in a format that isolates each word of the original romantic novel. Using simple code, the contemporary writer creates an animation that plays each word, from title to end, 12 seconds at a time, about 7200 words a day, taking nearly 28 days to play the novel out in its entirety. Literature turned into math. Words isolated as statistics – encountered in seconds, days, weeks and months.

Heather’s version was first published in 2002 at a quicker pace, but it is slowed down for its presentation at Plug In ICA, which we present on our monitor wall and on the website Slowness being a drive to gather one’s attention to work against our distracted selves, asking us to look at words as a whole as some thing of consequence. Each word is like a lone person floating at sea; one word is miniscule in relation to the whole of a book,  understood only in its relation to something bigger.

Rosemary Heather writes about art, the moving image and digital culture for numerous publications, artist monographs and related projects internationally. Exhibitions she has curated include: Screen and Décor (Justine M Barnicke Gallery, Toronto; Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge; Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary 2013-2014); Ron Giii: Hegel’s Salt Man (Doris McCarthy Gallery, Toronto; Art Gallery of Carlton University, Ottawa, 2006-07); Serial Killers: Elements of Painting Multiplied by Six Artists (Christopher Cutts, Toronto; Platform, London, UK); and I Beg to Differ (Milch, London, UK). From 2003-2009, she was the editor of C Magazine (Toronto); and between 2012-2014, she worked as Director of Publications and Communications for Fogo Island Arts (Fogo Island, Newfoundland). Rosemary Heather is Editor-in-Chief of the new digital imprint Q&A ( An online archive of her writing can be found at:

This re-commission and presentation would not be possible without the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council as well as generous donors, dedicated members and hardworking volunteers.

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For media inquiries please contact: Sarah Nesbitt at or by telephone at (204) 942-1043 ext 27.