Touring Newfoundland with The March Hare

As West Country folks have done for centuries, I’m preparing to depart from balmy Plymouth for blustery Newfoundland for a week on the road with The March Hare, Atlantic Canada’s largest and certainly most eclectic poetry festival, in which:

Traditional stories alternate with contemporary poems, emerging writers appear alongside established writers, local performers share the stage with performers from all over the world, and all of them are accorded the same courtesy. While long-term achievement may be given the nod of respect in the form of an extra two or three minutes at the podium, the time allotments are tight and more or less equal. There are no stars at the March Hare.

I’ve been timing various pieces and it turns out everything I’ve ever written can be read aloud in eight minutes and thirty seconds. I’ll be reading a mix of new and old work, including Air Holes, Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl, and Once Upon a Tide, a print iteration of which will appear in Arc Poetry Magazine this month.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to listening, meeting new people, and getting to see more of this wonderfully wild island.

Here are my dates:

Tuesday, March 7th, 8:00
Chidley’s Place, Renews

Wednesday, March 8th, 8:00
St. Patrick’s Parish Hall, Tilting, Fogo Island

Thursday, March 9th, 7:30
Gander Hotel, Gander

Friday, March 10th, 8:00
Swirsky’s, Corner Brook

The full program is online here: http://themarchhare.ca/2017-programme/

The Gathering Cloud

The Gathering Cloud is a new hybrid print and web-based work by J. R. Carpenter commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival, which takes place in Dundee, UK, 9-13 November 2016.

This work aims to address the environmental impact of so-called ‘cloud’ computing through the oblique strategy of calling attention to the materiality of the clouds in the sky. Both are commonly perceived to be infinite resources, at once vast and immaterial; both, decidedly, are not.

Fragments from Luke Howard’s classic “Essay on the Modifications of Clouds” (1803) as well as more recent online articles and books on media and the environment are pared down into hyptertextual hendecasyllabic verses. These are situated within surreal animated gif collages composed of images materially appropriated from publicly accessible cloud storage services.

The Gathering Cloud
The Gathering Cloud – a new hybrid print and web-based work by J. R. Carpenter

The cognitive dissonance between the cultural fantasy of cloud storage and the hard facts of its environmental impact is bridged, in part, through the constant evocation of animals: A cumulus cloud weighs one hundred elephants. A USB fish swims through a cloud of cables. Four million cute cat pics are shared each day. A small print iteration of “The Gathering Cloud” shared through gift, trade, mail art, and small press economies further confuses boundaries between physical and digital, scarcity and waste.

The Gathering Cloud
The print iteration of The Gathering Cloud

The Gathering Cloud was commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Dundee, UK, 9-13 November 2016. Many thanks to the curators Sarah Cook and Donna Holford-Lovell. Portions of this text were first performed at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution during the South West Poetry Tour, 1-8 August 2016. Thanks and curses to Annabel Banks for sugesting the hendecasyllabic constraint. Thanks to Kay Lovelace, Rachel McCarthy, Michael Saunby, and the fine folks at the Informatics Lab at the Met Office for tips, tricks, and discussions on code and the weather. And thanks to Jerome Fletcher for everything else.

Further reading: NEoN speaks with JR Carpenter

View the work online here: The Gathering Cloud

Three conferences in June. That’s a lot.

I’m off to Paris tomorrow to present at two conferences handily scheduled back to back. The first is &Now 2012 | New Writing in Paris: exchanges and cross-fertilizations, Université de la Sorbonne, Paris, June 6-10, 2012. There I will present a performance and a short paper on a new work called There he was, gone., which be published in Joyland Poetry any day now, or so the editors tell me. More on that when it comes out.

The second Paris conference is Translating E-Literature | Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis/Université Paris Diderot, June 12-14 2012. There I will present a paper called Translation, Transmutation, Transmediation, and Transmission in TRANS.MISSION [A.DIALOGUE]. This paper deals mostly with the translation from one code language to another. I will present immediately following Nick Montfort, which is nerve wracking as TRANS.MISSION [A.DIALOGUE] is a transmutation of his work The Two and as such I spend most of my paper writing about his work. I have a really hard time referring to friends in the third person, especially when they’re in the room.

A little later in June, a retrospective of my work will be shown during Electrifying Literature: Affordances & Constraints, the Electronic Literature Organization conference and exhibition to be held at the University of West Virginia, Morgantown, USA June 2012. I’m immensely chuffed about this, naturally. Many thanks to the curators Dene Grigar & Sandy Baldwin. Sadly, I cannot afford to attend the conference, but I will join one panel via skype – a panel on re-mixing Taroko Gorge – another work by Nick Montfort, which I have remixed three times, resulting in: Gorge, Whisper Wire & Along the Briny Beach.

As a lead up the the Electronic Literature Organization conference, Leonardo Flores has written a series of posts about work which will be in the exhibition, including my works: TRANS.MISSION [A.DIALOGUE], Along the Briny Beach, The Cape, and Entre Ville. Thank you Leonardo.

June is shaping up to be one heck of a month.

Along the Briny Beach

My most recent piece of digital poetry, Along the Briny Beach, generates a coastline. The source code loads the following variables: Land Sea Write Erase Walk Liminal Space. The variable _Read_ is assumed to be client-side. The function _Writing and Erasing_ returns: Edges Ledges and Legible Lines caught in the Double-Bind of Writing and Erasing. Onload: Write Coast.

Along the Briny Beach appears in the new garden-theme issue of Boulder Pavement, an elegant multi-media journal published by The Banff Centre Press three times a year.

Along the briny beach a garden grows. With silver bells and cockleshells, cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh. A coral orchard puts forth raucous pink blossoms. A bouquet of sea anemones tosses in the shallows. A crop of cliffs hedges a sand-sown lawn mown twice daily by long green-thumbed waves rowing in rolling rows. The shifting terrain where land and water meet is always neither land nor water and is always both. The sea garden’s paths are fraught with comings and goings. Sea birds in ones and twos. Scissor-beak, Kingfisher, Parrot, and Scissor-tail. Changes in the Zoology. Causes of Extinction. From the ship the sea garden seems to glisten and drip with steam. Along a blue sea whose glitter is blurred by a creeping mist, the Walrus and the Carpenter are walking close at hand. A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk along the briny storied waiting in-between space. Wind blooms in the marram dunes. The tide far out, the ocean shrunken. On the bluff a shingled beach house sprouts, the colour of artichoke. On the horizon lines of tankers hang, like Chinese lanterns. Ocean currents collect crazy lawn ornaments. Shoes and shipwrecks, cabbages and kings. Water bottle caps and thick white snarls of string. At dawn an ancient tractor crawls along the briny beach, harvesting the tide’s leaves. The world’s plastic, the sea’s weeds.

Along the Briny Beach was performed in collaboration with Jerome Fletcher at E-Poetry [ 2011 ] : International Digital Language | Media | Arts Festival at SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, May 19, 2011.

The source code for the poetry generating component of Along the Briny Beach is based on Taroko Gorge, by Nick Montfort, other remixes of which appear in my recent book GENERATION[S].

Along the Briny Beach || Boulder Pavement 4

CityFish to be presented at OLE Officinia di Letteratura Electtronica, exhibited at PAN Palazzo Arti Napoli

I am gearing up to present a paper on my most recent work of electronic literature – CityFish – at the OLE Officinia di Letteratura Electtronica Festival / Conference taking place in Naples 20-21 January 2011. The very full program boasts an impressive roster of speakers. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and new work. I especially love how, in a sea of big names and long conference paper titles written in Italian, Spanish, French and English, shot through with colons, semi-colons, dashes and all manner of accentuation, my title is written just like this – “CityFish” – one word, written in its own made-up language, buoyed by quotation marks, impossible to translate, and anyway, there is no reason to. The rest of the paper will be translated, however. All of the papers presented at OLE Officinia di Letteratura Electtronica will appear in Italian translation in a book published by Feltrinelli in Italy. I have the greatest of sympathy for the translators of this odd-ball essay about this quirky work about this talking dead fish.

CityFish is a hybrid word, title of a hybrid work, tale of a hybrid creature. A big fish story swallowing a small tale’s tail. A rhizome, a fable, an urban legend. Like an old wives’ tale, it’s long been told but is never quite finished. In its latest incarnation, CityFish is a web-based hypermedia panoramic narrative. Completed in November 2010, with the support of a new media creation grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, CityFish was presented in Beta at Archive & Innovate, The 4th International Conference & Festival of the Electronic Literature Organization, at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, June 3-6, 2010. CityFish was also presented as a work-in-progress at Interventions: Literary Practice at the Edge: A Gathering, at The Banff Centre, in Banff, Alberta, Canada, February 18, 2010. The Coney Island videos were shot on location in 2005 and edited during the Babel Babble Rabble: On Language and Art thematic residency at The Banff Centre in 2006. A very, very, very early web-based iteration of CityFish was presented in an exhibition called IßWAS, at the Bavarian American Hotel in Nuremberg, Germany, July 1998. That iteration incorporated a series of photographs shot on 35mm film in Chinatown, Toronto, circa 1996; a line drawing of a fish with a tall building for a tail, drawn at around the same time; and a very short story of the same name written in 1995 from the first-person point of view of a fish.

CityFish is a simple story told by a simple fish, most unhappy about being caught, killed and offered up for sale, piled unceremoniously in a heap on a sidewalk fishmonger’s stall on a hot summer day, on a narrow, crowded street in Chinatown, New York City. “What a fish, once was I,” the fish reminisces. “A fish’s fish, with fish’s thoughts inside my head.” Fish are far from us. Their stories breathe with gills, swim in deep cold water and are never still. They cannot help but seem strange to us. As Henry David Thoreau noted in Cape Cod, a book named after a piece of land named after a fish:

All that is told of the sea has a fabulous sound to an inhabitant of the land, and all its products have a certain fabulous quality, as if they belonged to another planet, from sea-weed to a sailor’s yarn, or a fish-story. In this element the animal and vegetable kingdoms meet and are strangely mingled.

CityFish will be exhibited at PAN Palazzo Arti Napoli for a month after OLE Officinia di Letteratura Electtronica, and may be viewed anytime from anywhere online here: http://luckysoap.com/cityfish

PAN Palazzo Arti Napoli
via dei mille 60, napoli
tel. +39.081.7958604-05
fax. +39.081.7958660
info@palazzoartinapoli.net
www.palazzoartinapoli.net

An article about OLE Officinia di Letteratura Electtronica appeared in the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera 8 January 2011: Arriva la letteratura elettronica

Story Generation(s) Launching at PW10, Arnolfini, Bristol

Sotry Generation(s) - J. R. CarpenterI am pleased to announce the launch of Story Generation(s) at PW10 Performance Writing Weekend at Arnolfini, Bristol, May 8-9, 2010. Story Generation(s) are a series of short fictions generated by Python scripts adapted (with permission) from two 1k story generators written by Nick Montfort: http://grandtextauto.org/2008/11/30/three-1k-story-generators/ .

I began tinkering with these story generators in June 2009. There are currently three stories in the series: Excerpts from the Chronicles of Pookie & JR, I’ve Died and Gone to Devon and Auto-Autobiography. This will be their first public exhibition.

Excerpts from the Chronicles of Pookie & JR documents my adventures with Ingrid Bachmann’s hermit crab Pookie, also known as Pookie 14, during June of 2009. Of Excerpts from the Chronicles of Pookie & JR, Nick Montfort writes:

“J. R. Carpenter, author of Words the Dog Knows, Entre Ville, The Cape, and other fine works of e-lit, print, and xerography, has delightfully re-purposed one of my 1k story generators to have it tell stories involving her and a hermit crab named Pookie. The program has grown to about 2k, but it uses the same simple (and surprisingly effective) method as my first generator does: It simply removes all but 5-9 sentences from a sequence, eliding some of what’s been written. Sometimes the reader is left to wonder who the hermit is.” Nick Montfort, http://nickm.com/post/2009/07/story-generation-with-pookie-and-jr/

In July 2009, NYC-based artist/programmer Ravi Rajakumar ported the Python script into Javascript to create this web browser friendly version of the Chronicles of Pookie & JR: http://luckysoap.com/pookieandjr/index.html

Here’s a screenshot from the Rajakumar iteration:

Excerpts from the Chronicles of Pookie & JR

DOWNLOAD PookieAndJR.py

I’ve Died and Gone to Devon re-purposes the same Python script as Excerpts from theChronicles of Pookie & JR to tell (and retell) the story of an arrival and first impression of Devon. Most of the sentences in this story were adapted from Twitter posts written during a five-week visit to Devon, August – September, 2009.
Here is one example of a story generated byI’ve Died and Gone to Devon:

I’ve died and gone to Devon.

In North America, roads this narrow wouldn’t even count as driveways.

If this is the wrong side of the road, I don’t care what’s right.

If this is the driveway, then I can’t wait to see the house.

We can’t hear the river from the house, but we can see it.

Everybody insists we’re by the seaside. I can smell but not see the sea.

Flotsam on a tidal river is a strange mixture of oak leaves and seaweed.

This is an achingly beautiful place to come across a little death.

DOWNLOAD Devon.py

Auto-Autobiography adapts a different Python story generator script by Montfort to generate a quasi-autobiographical story by segments. This script chooses sentences from pools of stock autobiographical statements: “I was born…” I come from…” “In retrospect…” This format was suggested to me by a passage from Anne-Marie MacDonald’s novel, As The Crow Flies:

“If you move around all your life, you can’t find where you come from on a map. All those places where you lived are just that: places. You don’t come from any of them; you come from a series of events. And those are mapped in memory. Contingent, precarious events, without the counterpane of place to muffle the knowledge of how unlikely we are. Almost not born at every turn. Without a place, events slow-tumbling through time become your roots. Stories shading into one another. You come from a plane crash. From a war that brought your parents together.”
Anne-Marie MacDonald, As The Crow Flies, Toronto: Knopf, 2003, page 36.

The notion of autobiographical veracity is undermined in Auto-Autobiography, by leaving key gender signifiers such as Mother/Father to computational chance.
Here is one example of a story generated by Auto-Autobiography:

Here is my story:

I was born in wedlock – for some reason, this surprises me.

I come from a war that brought my parents together.

My mother had a long memory and a short fuse.

I live in a wonderful house.

I work hard at not having to work too hard.

I wish I’d said that differently.

My best friend kept insisting I learn to play guitar.

In retrospect, she read way too many Russian novels.

I love it when we lie in bed plotting the downfall of our enemies.

Next year, let’s forget every single thing we learned this year.

In future, we will know many beginnings and no ends.

DOWNLOAD autobio.py

Viewing Instructions:

Download the python file to your desktop and unzip. On a Mac or Linux system, you can run the story generator by opening a Terminal Window, typing “cd Desktop”, and typing “python filename.py”. Hint: look for Terminal in your Utilities folder. These Python story generator runs on Windows, too, but you will probably need to install Python first: version 2.6.5. Once Python is installed you can double click on the file and it will automatically launch and run in the terminal window. Every time you press ENTER a new version of the story will appear.

Two Generations Ago

Two Generations AgoLook for my very short story, Two Generations Ago, on the streets of Brooklyn this September. Literally. It will be on on a street somewhere near the Williamsburg Bridge.

Rachelle Viader Knowles has included the story in her FORMER RESIDENT PROJECT, which launches during Conflux Festival September 14 – 17, 2006, in Brooklyn NY, USA.

THE FORMER RESIDENT PROJECT explores the city through the narratives of the no-longer resident, people whose lives have been shaped by their experiences of places they no longer inhabit. For many of us, ‘residence’ is a multiple thing, a series of narratives and residues that shift and slip over time. When we leave a place, what do we take? And what do we leave behind? The project includes stories donated by former ‘residents’ of Brooklyn about something that happened in a particular location. Each story has been printed onto a fridge magnet and posted near that location. The the address are listed on the website: http://www.former-resident-project.net

If you don’t happen to be in Brooklyn you can also read my story here:
Two Generations Ago
. . . . .

Broken Things Closing Party

Come on out to MOCCA tonight for the closing party of the 19th Annual Images Festival. With DJ Kola. Performance by Tammy Forsythe. Outdoor projections by John Oswald. And me, and How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome.


9-12 pm, MoCCA (952 Queen Street W), FREE
. . . . .

Public Reception Today at MOCCA

HOW I LOVED THE BROKEN THINGS OF ROME

a a hypertext/ poetry/ video/ installation J. R. Carpenter

Public Reception Today: Saturday April 15, 2 – 6PM

Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
952 Queen Street W.,Toronto, ON, CANADA

Presented in Association With the 19th Annual imagesFestival

If you can’t join us at MOCCA today, you can also visit How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome online any time at: http://luckysoap.com/brokenthings

. . . . .

Broken Things Now Showing at MOCCA

The broken things of Rome are still broken, but my web/ poetry/ video/ installation How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome is now installed at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and the show is now showing. Come by, buy a mini-book, browse the site on site, and say hi to me, J.R. Carpenter.

How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome is at MOCCA April 13 – 23, 2006
The Gallery Hours Are: Tuesday – Sunday 11 – 6
I will be at the Public Reception: Saturday April 15, 2 – 6PM
And at the Closing Party: Saturday April 22, 9:30PM

Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
952 Queen Street W.,Toronto, ON, CANADA

http://luckysoap.com/brokenthings
. . . . .