The Gathering Cloud Wins The New Media Writing Prize 2016

My recent hybrid print- and web-based work The Gathering Cloud won the Main Prize at the New Media Writing Prize 2016. Winners were announced at the New Media Writing Prize Award Event, which took place at Bournemouth University 18 January 2017. The award, now in its seventh year, saw entries from around the world from across a variety of different styles and media including poetry, non-fiction, digital novels, web-based works, and trans-media pieces.

The judges admired Carpenter’s grasp of digital and non-digital elements, and found her piece, about the relationship between the digital and the natural, beautiful and engaging.
The Literary Platform

Research for The Gathering Cloud began in 2015 when I submitted a proposal to the inaugural Dot Award for Digital Literature, sponsored by if:book. I proposed to create a new web-based work in response to the storms which battered South West England in early 2014, resulting in catastrophic flooding in Somerset and the destruction of the seawall and rail line at Dawlish. Reading the news in the months after these storms, I was struck by how difficult it is to evoke through the materiality of language a force such as wind which we can only see indirectly through its affect. I began to explore weather, and wind in particular, in all its written forms.

Winning the Dot Award enabled me to explore the intertwined topics of language, weather, and climate change in a freer and more open-ended way that I might otherwise have been able to. I looked through mountains of private weather diaries held at the Met Office Library and Archive in Exeter. One thing I figured out pretty early one is that it’s hard to study only one kind of weather. On one single page of a weather diary it is possible to see noted thunder, lightening, lilacs, a meteor, and hyacinths in full flower.

Detail of a private weather diary held at the Met Office Archive in Exeter
Detail of a private weather diary held at the Met Office Archive in Exeter

During the first week of August 2016 I was a principal performer in the South West Poetry Tour, along with Steven Fowler, Camila Nelson, John Hall, Mattie Spence, and Anabel Banks. Each night we performed new works written in collaboration. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to generate new writing on weather. In my collaboration with John Hall (video) I used classical texts on weather as raw material, and in my collaboration with Anabel Banks (video), we worked with two texts on clouds. She drew upon Gavin Pretor-Pinney, The Cloudspotter’s Guide, written in 2007, and I used Luke Howard’s classic Essay on the Modifications of Clouds, written in 1803. Howard was the first to standardise the names of clouds that we still use today. Anabel added one tricky constraint to our collaboration, that we write in hendecasyllabic — eleven syllable lines.

In September 2016 I was commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival in Dundee to create a new web-based work in response to the theme “The Spaces We’re In”.

Physical urban space and virtual information space are inseparably intertwined. How does being digital change our sense of our spatial surroundings? Can we play in or animate the hybrid or glitched spaces in-between? Is there negative space in cyberspace? […] NEoN will interrogate the materials that make up our built environment – from air and glass, to cardboard and concrete to circuits and steel – and the designed devices we use to navigate it. As buildings and bridges seem to emerge readymade from the screen to real space, NEoN’s programme will help us figure out how ‘the digital’ helps us through the transition, or at least helps us to understand and critique it.
NEoN Digital Arts Festival 2016

When the festival’s curators told me about the theme I knew immediately that I wanted to call attention to the environmental impact of so-called ‘cloud’ storage. I’ve thought a lot about the complex relationship between biological and digital memory in previous work. The scale of the digital cloud is too vast to think about in terms of the body. I had to think bigger, so I turned to the clouds in the sky.

I decided to continue to build upon the structure of Luke Howard’s Essay on the Modifications of Clouds, to incorporate more recent texts on cloud storage and media theory, and to stick with the hendecasyllabic constraint. The resulting work, The Gathering Cloud launched to a crowd of 350 people at a Pecha Kucha Night in Dundee on 8 November 2016, the night of the US elections. I hadn’t intended for the title to wind up sounding quite so ominous, but I do think that now more than ever we need to find ways of talking about the enormity of climate change in human terms that we can understand and act upon.

Many thanks to everyone at the Informatics Lab at the Met Office, all the performers on the South West Poetry Tour, the curators and staff at NEoN Digital Arts, and everyone involved with the Dot Award and the New Media Writing Prize, with special thanks to Michael Saunby, Kay Lovelace, Chirs Meade, and Jerome Fletcher.

Further reading:

NEoN speaks with JR Carpenter

JR Carpenter takes the big prize at the 2016 New Media Writing Prize Awards

Writing on the Cusp of Becoming Something Else

As an artist and author of both print and digital literature I have made extensive use of archival materials over the past twenty years, incorporating ‘found’ images from old text books and ‘borrowing’ source code from dusty corners of the Web. I will aim to frame these acts of appropriation as contributions to a larger cultural project during Friction and Fiction: IP, Copyright and Digital Futures, a one day symposium taking place at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London 26 September 2015.

The Songs of Maldoror (1869)
Lautréamont, The Songs of Maldoror (1869)

In 1870 Le Compte de Lautréamont famously wrote: “Plagiarism is necessary. It is implied in the idea of progress. It clasps the author’s sentence tight, uses his expressions, eliminates a false idea, replaces it with the right idea.” In The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International, McKenzie Wark observes that Lautréamont “corrects, not back to a lost purity or some ideal form, but toward to a new possibility” (2011 34). In this spirit, let’s use Lautréamont’s expression, but eliminate the false idea of an assumed male author:

“Plagiarism is necessary. It is implied in the idea of progress. It clasps the author’s sentence tight, uses her expressions, eliminates a false idea, replaces it with the right idea.” J. R. Carpenter

In the 1920s Lautréamont was re-discovered by the Surrealists, who hailed him as a patron saint. In the early 1950s news broke that some of the most poetic passages of Lautréamont’s most well-known work, The Songs of Maldoror (1869), had been plagiarised from text books. I’d love to say this is where I got the idea from, but I’d been plagiarising text books long before I’d ever heard of Lautréamont.

Hannah Hoch, Bourgeois Wedding Couple (1919)
Hannah Hoch, Bourgeois Wedding Couple (1919)

The Letterist International credited Lautréamont with the discovery of a method they termed détournement. To détourne is to detour, to lead astray, to appropriate — not a literary form, as in a style, a poetics, or a genre, but rather a material form, as in a sentence, a book, a film, a canvas. In this material approach the Letterists lagged decades behind the Dadaist, Constructivist, and Surrealist collage and photomontage artists of the 1920s.

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (1934)
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (1934)

I went to art school. I came to writing through the material practices of photographing, photocopying, cutting with scissors, and pasting with glue. Hannah Hoch was my hero. Her lover Raoul Hausmann was pretty great too. I was mesmerised by the strange relations between image and text in the collage novels of Max Ernst (1891–1976), as was another of my art school icons, Joseph Cornell. At the recent exhibition of Cornell‘s work at the Royal Academy in London I was delighted to discover that Cornell had appropriated a black and white image of a girl balancing a stack of suitcases on her head from the front page of my website.

J. R. Carpenter, Luckysoap.com
J. R. Carpenter, Luckysoap.com

One of my earliest web-based works, Mythologies of Landforms and Little Girls was first published in a literary journal in 1995, but I remained unsatisfied with the fixed order of the story. In 1996 I made a non-linear HTML version in which readers could move through the story their own way. Most of the images and subtexts come from a civil engineering handbook. The deadpan technical descriptions of dikes, groins and mattress work add perverse sexual overtones to the otherwise chaste first-person narrative. Between the diagrammatic images and the enigmatic texts, a meta-narrative emerges wherein the absurd and the inarticulate, desire and loss may finally co-exist.

Environmental Geologic Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore (1979)
Environmental Geologic Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore (1979)

I built The Cape in 2005, but some of the sentences had been kicking around in my brain since the early 1990s. I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with them until came across a used copy of an Environmental Geologic Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore published by the University of Massachusetts in 1979, around the time of my one and only trip to Cape Cod to visit a grandmother I barely remember. I used photographs, charts, graphs and maps from the Geologic Guide as stand-ins for non-existent family photos — a surrogate family album. I used DHTML timelines produce a silent, jumpy, staggering effect reminiscent of the Super-8 home movies in which I’d always longed to star. The Cape has since been published in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume One, under a Creative Commons licence, and as a zine, in which images from the Geologic Guide mingle with diagrams appropriated from children’s text books.

Zine iterations of web-based works by J. R. Carpenter
Zine iterations of web-based works by J. R. Carpenter

In more recent works, I have turned my acquisitive attention toward the appropriation of literary texts.

In …and by islands I mean paragraphs (2013), small paragraphs generated by JavaScript draw upon variable strings containing fragments of literary texts harvested from a vast corpus of essays, plays, poems, novels, and travel writing on the topic of islands, including a number of works which have already borrowed from each other. My aim is not to claim these fragments of literary works as my own, but rather, to make their inner workings more overt. For example, whilst the title of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Crusoe in England” (1971) makes clear reference to Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe (1719), nowhere within the poem does Bishop acknowledge that the textual topography of her Crusoe’s island borrows heavily from Charles Darwin’s descriptions of the Galapagos Islands in The Voyage of the Beagle (1838), a book which Bishop admired. And why should she?

J. R. Carpenter, ...and by islands I mean paragraphs (2013)
J. R. Carpenter, …and by islands I mean paragraphs (2013)

McKenzie Wark argues: “For past works to become resources for the present requires… their appropriation as a collective inheritance, not as private property” (2011: 37). In …and by islands I mean paragraphs I have clasped the authors’ sentences tight. I have used expressions from both Bishop and Darwin. I have eliminated the false idea that either text is fixed, advocating instead for the bright idea that literature is our and we should use it however we want.

Incorporation of appropriation, variation, and transformation into the process of composition results in writing that is always on the cusp of becoming something else.

Print iteration of Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl published in Fourteen Hills

Fourteen HillsNotes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl (2013) has been published in print Fourteen Hills: The San Francisco State University Review, 20.2. The web iteration of Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl was first presented in “Avenues of Access: An Exhibit & Online Archive of New ‘Born Digital’ Literature”, curated by Dene Grigar & Kathi Inman Berens, at the Modern Languages Association (MLA) Convention in Boston, MA, USA, in January 2013.

Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl is a work of fiction. Any resemblances to actual events, locals, persons or texts are entirely intentional. This computer-generated narrative conflates and confabulates characters, facts, and forms from accounts of voyages into unknown seas undertaken over the past 2340 years. This ever-shifting text is composed of fragments of stories of fanciful, fluid, and quite possibly fictional floating places described or imagined in such diverse works as Tacitus, Agricola (97-98), Hakluyt, Voyages and Discoveries (1589–1600), and Eugene Field, Wynken, Blynken and Nod (1889). The title characters Owl and Girl are borrowed from Edward Leer’s Victorian nonsense poem, The Owl and the Pussy-Cat (1871). In my version, the passive Pussy-cat has been replaced with a Girl most serious, most adventurous, most determined.

Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl || J. R. Carpenter

Girl and her lazy friend Owl set out, set sail, sail away toward a strange sea in a boat, craft, raft of pea-, bottle-, lima-bean- or similar shade of green. The cartographic collage they voyage through is an assemblage of fluid floating places – discontinuous surfaces pitted with points of departure, escape routes, lines of flight. Five horizontally scrolling texts annotate this mythical, implausible, impossible voyage toward seas unknown, the northern lights, the fountain of youth.

Following the launch of the web-based iteration of Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl, I pillaged the JavaScript-generated narrative and four of the horizontally scrolling lines of text to create a script for live performance, which has since been performed during In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge at The Banff Centre, Banff, Canada, February 2013, and ELO 2013: Chercher le texte, Le Cube, Paris, France, 26 September 2013. The piece published in Fourteen Hills: The San Francisco State University Review, 20.2 is based on this script.

This print text comprises two distinct sections: narrative and notes. The opening ‘narrative’ section undermines the authority of an authorial voice by interrupting the linear narrative flow of its sentences with incoherence, indecision, vagaries, possibilities, and multiplicities by inserting some but not all of the variables contained in the JavaScript variable strings. For example, the first sentence of the ‘narrative’ section:

An owl and a girl most [adventurous’, ‘curious’, ‘studious’] [‘set out’, ‘set sail’, ‘sailed away’] in a [bottle-green’, ‘beetle-green’, ‘pea-green’] [‘boat’, ‘sieve’, ‘skiff’, ‘vessel’]; a [‘beautiful’, ‘ship shape’, ‘sea worthy’] [‘craft’, ‘raft’, ‘wooden shoe’], certainly, though a [‘good deal’, ‘wee bit’, ‘tad’] too [‘small’, ‘high in the stern’] to suit the two of them.

In the ‘notes’ section, fragments from the horizontally scrolling texts have been heterodyned, or forced together, into one long text. On the page, the different lines of Girl’s notes remain differentiated by indentation, which, alas, is not easily representable in blog formatting. You’ll just have to take my word for it. By my word, of course, I mean the girl’s.

For more information on Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl, take a look at Poetry Connection: Link Up with Canadian Poetry, an initiative of Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate Fred Wah (2013) aimed at making experimental writing practices accessible to a wide audience through the distribution of YouTube video recordings of readings and PDFs containing discussion topics, writing ideas, and other pedagogical aids. Here is a video description and performance of Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl (YouTube). And here are discussion topics and writing ideas based on Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl (PDF).

I first logged onto the internet 20 years and 22 days ago today

On 93/11/05, in the PAVO lab at Concordia University in Montreal, I logged onto the internet for the first time. My user name was JR_CARP. I remember these details because I still have the ID card from that first account. After a few months of writing fictional posts to alt.arts.nomad and other USNET groups I got a UNIX account and dove into the wonderful worlds of Telnet, Archie, Gopher, FTP, Purple Crayon, LambdaMOO, c-theory, ALT-X, and so on. The rest, as they say, is a syslog file.

JR_CARP

I’ve written about those way back times a number of times in a number of ways over the past twenty years. Here links to a few essays which are still online which I’m not too embarrassed about:

A Little Talk About Reproduction 1997

A Brief History of the Internet as I know it So Far 2003

Getting in on the Ground Floor: A Hazy History of How and Why We Banded Together 2007

A Non-Linear Time Line of 20 Years Online 2013

Collaborations are underway toward marking this anniversary. Berlin-based art critic and code-poet Elvia Wilk is currently slogging through the audio archive of an interview we did in London in October. And I am chipping away at answering questions posed by writer and researcher Andrea Zeffiro for what we’re calling an Object Oriented Interview for the Media Archaeology Lab in Boulder, Colorado.

In the meantime, here is a video interview the brilliant and delightful code-poet philosopher David Jhave Johnston did with me at The Banff Centre in 2012, for the series CAPTA: Conversations with poets about technology, in which, there is much discussion of the olden days of internet of yore.

Catalogue Essay for Ingrid Bachmann, Pelt (Bestiary)

Pelt (Bestiary) Earlier this year I wrote a wee catalogue essay on Montreal-based installation artist Ingrid Bachmann‘s work Pelt (Bestiary), which opened on April 13, 2012 at the Galerie Materia in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. It was the opening show of the Quebec Art Biennale – “Manifestation internationale d’art de Québec” – Manif d’art 6, curated by Nicole Gingras, which officially opened May 3, 2012.

Copies of this gem of a catalogue arrived by post this morning. Here are the opening lines from my text:

I have seen Ingrid Bachmann stick electrodes into potatoes to see what sounds they make, and then stick them into into apples to compare notes.

The harmonic frequencies of fruits and vegetables, the private lives of hermit crabs, the stories we tell, the lies, the sublime secrets suitcases hold, the music used shoes make… Such is the breadth of her curiosity. Electric is her line of inquiry. Direct is her approach.

Much of Bachmann’s work with technology has been aimed at demystifying it, humanizing it, stripping it down to its essentials, and then hanging stories on those bare bones. She has used bits of yarn to map the internet’s under-sea cables, harnessed the computer loom to “print” seismic activity, offered giant knitting needles as a user-computer interface.

It is through this material sensibility that we must approach this new work.

And here is video documentation of Pelt (Bestiary).

Writing on Writing on Performance Writing

Performance Writing is one of those unwieldy terms – not quite familiar enough for us to assume we already know what it means, not quite descriptive enough for us to simply guess. Fitting, then, that this term refers to a field with a willful unwillingness to commit to fixed definitions. In Thirteen Ways of Talking about Performance Writing, a lecture given to all first year undergraduates of Dartington College of Arts on Tuesday 22nd November 1994, in the inaugural term of a new undergraduate degree called Performance Writing, John Hall advocates for definings rather than definitions:

Like ‘writing’ ‘defining’ can best be treated as a gerund, catching the present tense of the verb up into a noun, without losing the continuous dynamic of the verb: the process of the act of defining. If the process were to end in resolution we would move the defining into definition. We would know.

We won’t.

John Hall performing at PW12, Arnolfini

John Hall performing at Performance Writing Weekend 2012, Arnolfini, Bristol, May 2012.

To consider the term Performance Writing in explicitly Performance Writing terms, the intelligibility of the term is intertwined both with the context of its production and of its consumption. At one time those were one in the same. Dartington College of Art was a specialist performance arts institution which operated in South Devon, England, from 1961-2008. It evolved out of a particular and somewhat peculiar mixture of the Dartington Hall experiment in rural regeneration led by Dorthy and Leonard Elmhirst in the 1920s, and the alternative education experiments of both the Dartington Hall School and Schumaker College, which both operated on the Dartington Estate, and the Steiner School movement. Dartington College of Art was also influenced by the cross-disciplinarity and collective engagement and post-modern modes of writing which emerged from Black Mountain College in North Carolina in the 1950s. The term Performance Writing was in use within the Theater department at Dartington as early as 1987. The discussions which led to the development of Performance Writing as a set of independent practices at Dartington began in 1992. The BA was founded by John Hall in 1994, the MA in 1999, and practice-led PhD research in Performance Writing also began at this time.

Steve McCaffery & cris cheek performing Carnival, 2012

Steve McCaffery and cris cheek performing Carnival live at Birkbeck, London, UK, 06 June 2012

Performance Writing pedagogy, methodology, and practices were developed by active practitioner-lecturers at Dartington, including John Hall, Ric Allsopp, Caroline Bergvall, Aaron Williamson, Brigid Mc Leer, Alaric Sumner, Redell Olsen, cris cheek, Peter Jager, Barbara Bridger, Melanie Thompson, Jerome Fletcher, and many others, and enriched by an program of visiting artists from around the world. From the outset, Performance Writing has taken a consistently broad and overtly interdisciplinary approach to what writing is and what writing does in a range of social and disciplinary contexts, exploring writing and textual practice in relation to visual art, digital media, installation, performance, collaborative practices and sound/audio work, as well as book art and page-based media. The democratic, inclusive, and above all extensible nature of Performance Writing methodology has led to its adoption and adaptation by both independent and academic researchers, practitioners, pedagogs, and institutions in places as far flung as: Aarhus, Denmark; Berne, Switzerland; Oakland, California; Banff, Canada.

Erin Robinsong performing at In(ter)ventions 2011

Erin Robinsong performing at In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge, The Banff Centre, February 2011

In the UK, Performance Writing methodologies and sensibilities have spread – primarily through graduates of the the program at Dartington – into a rich diversity of artistic forms and institutional formulations, including but by no means limited to: performance in/with digital literature, as explored by Jerome Fletcher in the context of the HERA-funded research project ELMCIP; thematic multi-diciplinary writing workshops, as led by Devon-based Writing&; digital glitch literature and electronic voice phenomena performance, as explored by Liverpool and London based Mercy; conceptual writing and small press publishing, as explored by Leeds based Nick Thurston, and language and voice as explored by Bristol-based salon series Tertulia. In 2005 Text Festival in Bury hosted Partly Writing 4: Writing and the Poetics of Exchange, a session with which a number of Performance Writing people were involved. Text Festival continues to present work which is profoundly ‘Performance Writing’ in nature. Affinities with Performance Writing are also evident, though not in name, at Birkbeck, at Royal Holloway, and in the MFA in Art Writing led by Maria Fusco at Goldsmiths University (though information about this program is not turning up on the website any more, which does not bode well). Performance Writing sensibilities are also evident the Writing-PAD initiatives at Goldsmiths University, which include the publication of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, which will put out a special issue dedicated to Performance Writing late 2013 or early 2014. And in Open Dialogues: critical writing on and as performance, a writing collaboration that produces writing on and as performance founded by Rachel Lois Clapham and Mary Paterson in 2008. Performance Writing sensibilities also appear to be emerging within the CRASSH research centre at Cambridge University, which recently held the excellent seminar: Beyond the authority of the ‘text’: performance as paradigm, past and present.

Performance Writing as paradigm (at present) appears to be expanding from a disappearing centre (its past). Which is to say, Performance Writing is currently undergoing a paradigm shift.

Oana Avasilichioaei performing at Environmental Utterance, UCF, 2012

Oana Avasilichioaei performing We, Beasts at Environmental Utterance, University College Falmouth, 2 September 2012.

In 2008 Dartington College of Art merged with University College Falmouth, Cornwall. The relocation to Cornwall was completed in 2010, at which point, University College Falmouth, incorporating Dartington College of Art, as the institution became known, ceased recruitment to the BA Performance Writing. It has not resumed. The MA Performance Writing, led by Jerome Fletcher, continued to run at Arnolfini, a major European art and performance centre in Bristol, UK. Two Performance Writing Weekend festivals have been held at Arnolfini: PW10, and PW12. Recruitment to the MA Performance Writing was ceased in 2012. It has not resumed. Performance Writing continues at the postgraduate and research level at what is now called Falmouth University, where I am now nearing the completion of a practice-led PhD, which will in fact be awarded by University of the Arts London, but which in my mind remains entwined with the pedagogy, methodology, and practices of Performance Writing, Dartington College of Art.

What’s in a name anyway?

Earlier in this post I proposed that the intelligibility of the term Performance Writing is intertwined both with the context of its production and of its consumption. How can this term and the sets of practices it refers to be understood in its current institutional context? On the current Falmouth University website, the four slight paragraphs dedicated to the Performance Writing Research Group page trail off with an ellipsis… All trace of Performance Writing programs and pedagogy past have been erased from both the Dartington and the Falmouth websites. As there is no new student intake, Performance Writing is not being taught at either the undergraduate or graduate levels. Thus, Performance Writing is divorced from both the context of its own production and the possibility of its own consumption.

Writing & the Body workshop, Arnolfini, 2012

Writing & the Body workshop, Arnolfini, Bristol, 2012.

In addition to its willful unwillingness to commit to fixed definitions, Performance Writing has long eschewed any suggestion of a fixed corpus, preferring rather to assemble a fresh corpus around each new set of questions posed. Perversely, my question here is: what comprises the corpus of writing on Performance Writing? Paradoxically, as Performance Writing expands and evolves in new contexts, its corpus grows exponentially, but so too do its variables. Art Writing. Conceptual Writing. Performance Poetry. Sound Poetry. Digital Literature. Alt Lit. As these terms and conditions shift their names become many, which makes writing on writing in the field harder and harder to Google.

Here then is a collection of texts which directly address (or perform) Performance Writing in the Dartington sense of the term. This list is neither means exhaustive, nor fixed. Please. Send names and links and references. I’ll gladly add them. Note that by the time you read this list it may have been amended from what it once was and after you read it it may yet be amended again. Already I am indebted to John Hall for additions to this list and clarifications on points in this post as a whole:

Ric Allsopp, “Performance Writing,” in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. Vol. 21, No. 1, 1999. pp. 76-80.

Caroline Bergvall, What do we mean by Performance Writing? (PDF) a keynote address delivered at the opening of the first Symposium of Performance Writing, Dartington College of Arts, 12 April 1996.

Barbara Bridger, Dramaturgy and the Digital in Exeunt Magazine, 2013.

Barbara Bridger & J. R. Carpenter, “Call and Response: Toward a Digital Dramaturgy,” in Journal of Writing and Creative Practice. Goldsmiths, London, UK (forthcoming)

David Buuck, What is performance writing? in Jacket2, 2013.

J. R. Carpenter, Performing Digital Texts in European Contexts, commentary column on Jacket2, 2011.

J. R. Carpenter, Where performance and digital literature meet…, The Literary Platform, May 2012.

cris cheek, Reading and Writing: the Sites of Performance in How2, Volume 3, Issue 3, 2009.

Rachel Lois Clapham, assemblage, Inside Performance Volume 24. no.1, 2011

Jerome Fletcher, Performing …Reusement. E-composition / Decomposition (PDF), inCybertext Yearbook, University of Jyväskylä, 2010.

Maria Fusco, Michael Newman, Adrian Rifkin and Yve Lomax, 11 Statements Around Art Writing, Freize, 2011.

John Hall, Performance Writing: a Lexicon Entry, in A Lexicon: Performance Research Volume 11, No. 3. September 2006. pp. 89–91.

John Hall, Thirteen Ways of Talking about Performance Writing, Plymouth: PCAD, 2008.

John Hall, Essays on Performance Writing, Poetics and Poetry Vol. 1. On Performance Writing, with pedagogical sketches, forthcoming from Shearsman Books, October 2013.

Carl Lavery & David Williams eds, Good Luck Everybody: Lone Twin – Journeys, Performances, conversations, Performance Research Books, 2011.

Della Pollock, Performing Wiring (PDF), in The Ends of Performance. eds. Peggy Phelan, Jill Lane, NY: NYU Press, 1998. pp 73-103

Alaric Sumner, Writing & Performance, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, PAJ 61 (Volume 21, Number 1), January 1999

&Now Awards anthologyRemediating the Social catalogueA Global Visuage

Three recent anthologies which have no idea how Performance Writing they are.

In addition to the above list, there are numerous works which, although not expressly performance writing in name, are profoundly performance writing in nature. Listed here are but a very few of those:

Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, Harvard University Press, 2002.

Deleuze and Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, U of Minnesota Press, 1986.

Jean-Jacques Lecercle, A Marxist Philosophy of Language. trans. Gregory Elliot. Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2006.

W. G. Sebald, Rings of Saturn, Vintage, 2002.

Situationist International Text Library

Gertrude Stein, How To Write, NY: Dover, 1975.

McKenzie Wark, A Hacker Manifesto. (PDF) Harvard University Press, 2004.

The field of Performance Writing has of course produced a rich corpus of creative works, far too numerous to mention here.

For more information about Performance Writing, and/or to participate in ongoing workshops, events, and activities, visit:

Performance Writing entry on Wikipedia
(this page needs updating)

Performance Writing group on Facebook
(1,157 followers at the time of this writing)

Writing & multi-diciplinary writing workshop series
(led by former Dartington Performance Writing Faculty)

Tertulia
(Bristol-based salon series)

In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge residency program at The Banff Centre
(where I am Performance Writing Faculty)

var =storagespace[‘location’,’space’,’place’,’memory’]

Two and a half years now, I’ve rented a storage space. Four or five times I’ve visited it. Hundreds of pounds weight I’ve culled from it. Trashed, gifted, or sold. A dozen or so suitcases I’ve cargo-hold-enfolded and cabin carried from there to here. What’s left? Documents, mostly. Books, letters, photographs, tax records, artworks, notebooks. Files from a former life, lived in a former place. A string of variables.

var =storagespace[‘location’,’space’,’place’,’memory’]

In JavaScript, a variable is an amount of memory space reserved to store a piece of information. When a system does not correctly manage its memory allocations, it is said to leak memory. Three mornings in a row now I’ve willed myself to wake from vivid dreams itemizing the remaining contents of my storage space. Tomorrow I’ll fly to Montreal to attempt to empty it once and for all.

Somewhat unhelpfully, over the past two and a half years, various friends have suggested that I “just get rid of it all” because “no one needs things any more.” All information is available online. All archives can and should be made digital. These friends have garages, obviously, and/or parents with basements. Many of these friends have iPads and laptops and cars and plasma screen TVs, which they do not consider to be things. And many of these same friends publicly expressed outrage at the news that CBC has been quietly dismantling its archives of LPs and CDs across Canada – a cultural treasure trove built over decades.

If there’s anything more fetishized than vinyl in the face of the digital homogenization so many aspects of our daily lives are undergoing, it’s hand writing. And very old paper. Websites such as Brain Pickings send out a steady stream of tweets announcing the uncovering of rare and wonderful letters, drawings, chapbooks, notes, lists, maps, and other ephemera and marginalia, most often by long-dead authors, artists, scientists and medieval monks. 30 March 2012 The Guardian ran a review of As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-1980 by Susan Sontag, and 30 March 2012, an article announcing: Angela Carter’s teenage poetry unearthed at old school. The current collective bravado about entrusting the production, dissemination, curation, sharing, and storage of the cultural artifacts our daily lives to digital cloud storage and social networks and the devices these live archives engender seems to be underwritten by a deep seated belief that somebody has all the hard copies in storage somewhere, and that new old things will continue to be discovered.

null
Archival photo: my Montreal desk, from when it was still okay to have lots of things.

Tomorrow morning I’ll fly to Montreal to sift through what’s left of my once extensive archive of notebooks, letters, postcards, hand-drawn maps, childhood diaries, grade school poetry, high school essays, art school sketchbooks, earliest dot matrix print outs from first stabs and digitally distributed networked fiction, Mac II boot discs, floppies containing the first hypertextual nonlinear narrative I made on the Amiga in – oh who can remember what years these things happened in anymore… my instinct says: BURN EVERYTHING. Because none of us knows what to keep and what to throw away.

Well Mack the finger said to Louie the King
I got forty red white and blue shoe strings
And a thousand telephones that don’t ring
Do you know where I can get ride of these things
And Louie the King said let me think for a minute son
And he said yes I think it can be easily done
Just take everything down to Highway 61.
Bob Dylan, Highway 61

One pallet I’ll ship to England, air cargo. The rest must be dispensed with. To jet or to jettison? Of every variable in the string var=storagespace I will ask this question. Choice items returning the result jettison will be on offer at a garage sale held indoors in the studio space of jake moore and Steve Bates. Friends help friends throw stuff out. Good friends help friends ship, sell, or otherwise find homes for no longer necessary but still functional, useful, even beautiful things.

a garage sale, but in an art studio
6250 Hutchison #404, Montreal
Sunday 15 April 2012
11 AM to 4 PM.

Please come by to say hi. It may be my last chance to see you, you clever and stylish Montreal folk. Leave with books, music, art catalogs, hand-made hand-painted dishes, storage devices such as wooden drawers and a steamer trunk and a rather fine two-door armoire, other furniture such as end tables, office supplies including and inordinate number of manila envelopes and file folders, old school art supplies like charcoal, and actual art in fact. Many of these items will be surrendered for free if you can convince me you will provide good homes for them. Come say hi and leave with art and joy in your heart.

Fight for the right to use the internet in poetic and intransigent ways #SOPA #BlackoutSOPA #J18

I got my first Unix account in 1993. I didn’t know much about computers, but the adoption of a system which I perceived to be born our long-standing collective desire and seemingly perpetually vainglorious attempts to communicate across long distances through the elusive and transitory medium of the written word didn’t seem like such a leap of faith. The Internet has developed an interface since then, a painted face to hide all manner of ignorance and nefarious activity behind. In the countless artist statements, grant applications, articles and blog posts I’ve written over the course of my nineteen years, I’ve included some version of this sentence:

The more proprietary, predatory, and puerile a place the internet becomes the committed I am to using it in poetic and intransigent ways.

This commitment compels me to urge you to join #BlackoutSOPA #J18 18 January 2012. Shut down your blogs, web pages, facebook pages and profiles and twitter accounts for 12 hrs from 8am-8pm EST and show a message opposing #SOPA and #PIPA. In the amazing amount of spare time you will suddenly have on your hands, consider a #Paperstorm during the #SOPAblackout. Go out on the streets and pass flyers to inform people that the US congress is seriously and wilfully ignorantly considering legislation that will dramatically change the Internet as we know it, putting an end to many sites we use everyday. Including this one. This blog, Lapsus Lingue, runs on WordPress. In 10 January 2012 blog post WordPress urged its 60 million users to Help Stop SOPA/PIPA. Internet experts, organizations, companies, entrepreneurs, legal experts, journalists, and individuals the world over have repeatedly expressed how dangerous this bill is.

If we — the denizens of this tangled web of our own making; the collective authors of this never-ending networked narrative; the cartographers of this map of our twisting turning yearning desire for connection, for community, for communion; the caretakers of these web sites, these stand-ins for past and future places, these repositories for our long-standing longing for belonging, for home — if we do nothing, Congress will likely pass the Protect IP Act (in the Senate) or the Stop Online Piracy Act (in the House), and then the President will probably sign it into law. Even if we do something, they might. Which does not dissuade but rather further propels me to fight for the right to use the internet by using it in poetic and intransigent ways.

For more information on #BlackoutSOPA #J18 see the 10 January 2012 reddit blog post Stopped they must be; on this all depends.

WANDERKAMMER: A Walk Through Texts

Wander (Wun¦der)
verb 1. [with adverbial of direction] walk or move in a leisurely or aimless way: I wandered through the narrow streets, [with object] travel aimlessly through or over (an area): he found her wandering the streets, (of a road or river) meander. 2. move slowly away from a fixed point or place: please don’t wander off again. figurative his attention had wandered. 3. be unfaithful to one’s regular sexual partner. noun an act or instance of wandering: she’d go on wanders like that in her nightgown.

Wanderkammer (Wun¦der|kam¦mer)
noun (plural Wanderkammern)1. a web-based collection of hyperlinked quotations from curious and rare writings on the topic of wandering. 2. a walk through texts.

WANDERKAMMER: A Walk Through Texts
hypertext an odd-ball semantic web project by J. R. Carpenter published in Jacket2, in Walk poems: A series of reviews of walking projects edited by Louis Bury and Corey Frost.

J.R. Carpenter
proper noun 1. author of writing on wandering. 2. wanderer through texts. 3. collector of curious and rare writing on wandering. 4. creator of Wanderkammern.

Jerome FletcherWANDERKAMMER
proper noun 1. Wanderkammer collaborator. 2. collector of curious and rare writing on wandering.

Additional quotations contributed by Mythogeography, Neil Thompson and Maddie Thompson.

STRUTS – new digital literature commissioned by SFMoMA

STRUTS is a new work of digital literature commissioned for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. This commission is the latest in a series of new works featured on SFMoMA’s Open Space blog, in an excellent column on digital literature by Brian Stefans called: Third Hand Plays. Since the start of the series in July 2011, works have been commissioned from Daniel C. Howe, Alan Bigelow, joerg piringer, Alison Clifford, Erik Loyer, Benjamin Moreno Ortiz, Jhave, Christine Wilks and Jason Nelson. Forthcoming are new works from David Clark and Brian Stefans. I’m thrilled to keep such fantastic company. STRUTS launched on September 15, 2011. Posts to Third Hand Plays will wrap up at the end of September but I suspect the column with enjoy a long afterlife as an accessible, resource-full and fully engaged set of commentaries, concepts and links and resources of interest to digital literature practitioners and newcomers alike.

STRUTS || J. R. Carpenter

STRUTS is an algorithmic collage created from a collection of fragments of facts and fictions pertaining to a place and its people, history, geography and storm events. Narrative resonates in the spaces between the texts horizontally scrolling across the screen, the flickering updating of monthly tide gauge averages, the occasional appearance of live weather weather warnings pulled in by RSS feed and the animated set of photographs of the ends of the struts that support the seawall that protects the foreshore in front of Linda Rae Dornan’s cottage from the rising tides of the Northumberland Strait. The photographs were taken on May 23, 2011 the second day of a five-week stint as Open Studio Artist in Residence at Struts Gallery and Faucet Media Lab, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, May 22 – June 26, 2011.

STRUTS. STRUCTURAL MEMBERS, AS IN TRUSSES, PRIMARILY INTENDED TO RESIST LONGITUDINAL COMPRESSION. EMBANKMENTS MEANT TO PREVENT EROSION OF SHORELINES. BRACE OR SUPPORT BY MEANS OF STRUTS OR SPURS. SPURS. OBLIQUE REINFORCING PROPS OR STAYS OF TIMBER OR MASONRY. ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT. ON IMPULSE. SPURS TO ACTION. STRUTS. WALKS WITH HEAD ERECT AND CHEST THROWN OUT, AS IF EXPECTING TO IMPRESS OBSERVERS. WITH PROUD BEARING. PARADES, FLOURISHES. STRUTS AND SWAGGERS. STRUTS GALLERY. SUPPORTS BY MEANS OF STRUTS. STRUCTURAL MEMBERS SPUR STRUTS TO ART ACTION. WALKS WITH HEAD ERECT ALONG LONGITUDINAL EMBANKMENTS. SEAWALLS BRACED BY SPURS. STAYS. PREVENT EROSION. OF MOMENTS. OBLIQUELY.

[an excerpt from STRUTS, by J. R. Carpenter, commissioned for SFMoMA, launched September 15, 2011.]