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Text Tracey

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Sat in Shoreditch House, Tracey is quietly typing away on her laptop. As I walked through the busy bar with a bottle of Rose wine and two glasses Tracey looks up and reacts with a massive smile, waving her hand in the air as she shouts "Hi-yyyaa". She's in denim jeans a t shirt, knee high boots and looking a picture, with her rosy complexion. What can I say about Tracey except that she's a gal? Well she is constantly energetic, beautiful, likeable and completely charming. And most of all, she's one of these people you want to just keep on meeting up with. Tracey has kept 90,000 texts in 30 journals - TEXT ME UP! is a book in which she has compiled those messages, illustrating them lavishly. It's like her autobiography that is a work of art, labour and dedication.

How did you turn 90,000 Text messages into art? "I made it into an art form as they became small facets of my life which I wanted to document and store forever and by making pieces of art with them it gave the 'throw away sentiments' a greater longevity. It also allowed me to explore into an academic side of what was when I began a new technology".

Is texting the new way of sending Love letters? "It was only after I had written the book and someone said to me saving all your texts must have been relatively more easy than if you had saved all of the letters that were ever sent to you. It was then I realised that I had saved all of my letters except for two. The two I had destroyed were from my first long term boyfriend - we had split up and he'd moved away, we got back together after a couple of years. The letters I destroyed contained a marriage proposal. This is something I deeply regretted as he was murdered sometime after. I do see texting as a current form of the love letter. I also think it has become the equivalent with birthday, Valentines cards and so on along with social media networking. I don't think it is the same as a pen pal as you have to know the person in some way to have their number, a pen pal is less intimate and most cases one has never met the pen pals they write to. I had many pen pals when I was younger and one was from Finland - I'm working there next month and I have a huge desire to track down the address to where I used to write to him there. I'm worried if I do though it'll start off another project".

So how did you choose what texts to publish? "The texts were selected randomly by a pin process which I often use. It was by this method of sticking a pin in a map that I first moved to Manchester. Using this approach informed how I wrote each chapter and often the chapter content. It revealed many things such as people whose name I couldn't put a face to, but whose texts I knew intimately which seemed to have a life of their own. It evoked smells, tastes and lost thoughts, whilst stirring atmospheres and emotions. These made me pick up and continue with things I'd dropped several years ago as if I'd done so yesterday. The post texts, current texts and autobiographical section work as three narratives which interweave but sometimes float free of each other standing alone. The texts have helped fix different people in place and time. I'd forgotten much ... like The Libertines launching my T3XT-M3-Up-3! exhibition. From writing another chapter again with The Libertines I learned that interviews with them that I'd been there for and were filmed in the place I then co-owned were featured in their music videos and album artwork. So I revisited things, seeing them like one would the first time round (in some cases it was)".

Was it a big challenge writing all your texts down? "Yes, when I first started collecting text messages coming into my mobile, the phone would only store 10 messages. I had to write them down before deleting them. I started writing in notebooks, which became journals and on odd scraps of paper which I would transcribe into the journals. The message storing capacity changed in phones as text messaging became more popular. However as this changed the amount of people sending texts grew. By 2003 I was receiving on average 300-350 texts a month and by 2004 this had grown to 450+ a month. In 2005 I found a computer programme that enabled me to directly download them from my phone to computer which made things much easier. Yes, when I first started collecting text messages coming into my mobile, the phone would only store 10 messages. I had to write them down before deleting them. I started writing in notebooks, which became journals and on odd scraps of paper which I would transcribe into the journals. The message storing capacity changed in phones as text messaging became more popular. However as this changed the amount of people sending texts grew. By 2003 I was receiving on average 300-350 texts a month and by 2004 this had grown to 450+ a month. In 2005 I found a computer programme that enabled me to directly download them from my phone to computer which made things much easier".

Tell me what sort of things people can expect in the book? "The maggot racing in Moscow begins with me travelling the UK with a Fire streak air-to-air missile in the back of an ex-army Chevrolet to present to a large group of Russians involved in the first Russian Alco-film festival being hosted at my venue the Foundry in Shoreditch, East London, it follows the story of a week in the UK and the return trip to Moscow accompanied by 50 performers and artists including Pete Doherty, Gavin Turk and other YBA artists and musicians. It follows how a small group of us nearly get shot outside Lenin's tomb at 4am performing circus tricks; maggot racing and flea circus adventures in Russia's capital; how I plant all of Red Square with red poppy seeds; how we storm Russia's main TV station in a breakfast interview and go on to recreate a major scene from the Russian epic film Battleship Potemkin being lead by a Russian TV presenter".

Tracey is a girl who can turn her hand to anything and make it work, so what does the future hold for her? "I don't know what the future holds for me after the next few months. It depends on what random turning I walk down, so it could be anything. Things just happen and you have to seize the moment and journey as it happens"

As we headed up to the swimming pool on the roof Tracey points out the gym in Shoreditch House, that she says we must try out one day. As we sat by the pool we watched the sun set over London. As Tracey smiled I realised that there is something unique about her; she's one of these people who makes other people happy. She's an absolute pleasure to be around.