Perfumed Head began its life as a chapter of Digital Leatherette, a novel that was published on the internet; in that context the chapter formed the solution to a murder story. Recognising that, without the digital context of Digital Leatherette, he had written a pastiche of a conventional detective novel, Steve Beard decided to sacrifice his text to two computer programs. The first program scrambled sentences to form ‘machine poetry’, the second created hybrid letterforms.
The final draft of Perfumed Head contains elements of all three versions. This intoxicating, disturbing and sometimes unreadable prose propels writing/reading to its limits. Steve Beard has, through his use of writing manipulated by computer technology, produced a book that questions the relevance of the printed page in the digital age and that pushes forward the concerns of ‘chemical fiction’.