The Gathering Cloud book is out now from Uniformbooks

This thing about clouds is, they refuse to stay still. Initially commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival as a web-based project, The Gathering Cloud quickly spawned zine and live performance iterations. It won the New Media Writing Prize 2016 and was an Editor’s Pick in the Saboteur Awards 2017. The Gathering Cloud has now been published as a print book by Uniformbooks.

This new book collates my research into the history and language of meteorology with current thinking about data storage and climate change. Archival material from the Met Office Archive and Library in Exeter has been studied and sifted, along with classical, medieval, and Victorian sources, including, in particular, Luke Howard’s classic essay On the Modifications of Clouds, first published in 1803. This research material is presented as a sequence of texts and images, acting both as a primer to the ideas behind the project and as a document of its movement between formats, from the data centre to the illuminated screen, from the live performance to the printed page.

In his foreword, media theorist Jussi Parikka, author of A Geology of Media, describes the multi-modality of The Gathering Cloud project as “a series of material transformations made visible through a media history executed as digital collage and print publication, hendecasyllabic verse, and critical essay”.

In her afterword, poet Lisa Robertson, author of The Weather, describes this iterative compositional process in quite another way: “…whatever gathers things together whatever gathers people together and thinking together given the great long whooshing passage of time wind economies technologies believes and whatever gathers a sentence together and whatever a poem is both physical and mysterious and so we wish to read…”

Many thanks to Jussi and Lisa, to Uniformbooks editor Colin Sackett, to NEoN curators Sarah Cook and Donna Holford-Lovell, to Chris Meade and Jim Pope at the New Media Writing Prize, and to Claire Trévien
 at Sabotage Reviews.

For more information and to purchase The Gathering Cloud book, visit Uniformbooks.

Notes Very Necessary – new work published in The New River

Notes Very Necessary is a web-based multi-media collage essay co-created by UK-based playwright, director, and dramaturg Barbara Bridger and artist, writer, and researcher J. R. Carpenter.

This new work aims to addresses the inter-related issues of cultural imperialism and climate change by appropriating and remixing images, text, and data generated by centuries imperialist, colonialist, capitalist, and scientific exploration and exploitation in the Arctic. The title is borrowed from an essay called “Instructions and notes very necessary and needful to be observed in the purposed voyage for discovery of a passage eastwards” published in Hakluyt’s Voyages and Discoveries in 1580. This essay, co-authored by the Englishmen Arthur Pet and Charles Jackman, offered detailed instructions on how to conquer new territories by taking copious notes. The proposed voyage eastward, toward the discovery of a Northeast passage to China, hangs In 2015 Barbara Bridger and J. R. Carpenter attempted to follow these instructions by making, finding, and faking notes, images, data, and diagrams online and reconfiguring them into a new narrative. The result is a long, horizontally scrolling, highly variable visual and textual collage essay charting the shifting melting North.

Notes Very Necessary || J. R. Carpenter & Barbara Bridger
Screenshot of Notes Very Necessary || J. R. Carpenter & Barbara Bridger

Notes Very Necessary was commissioned for conjunctions : experiments in collaboration, a collection of interdisciplinary essays co-edited by Jill Talbot and Eric LeMay, published in The New River: A Journal of Digital Writing & Art in December 2015.

“In the spirit of the essay to test new forms and practices, this collection brings together work created through collaboration. We asked writers to collaborate with other artists or artisans in the co-creation of an essay that, in some way, pushed the genre beyond words.” Jill Talbot and Eric LeMay

The Broadside of a Yarn: A Situationist Strategy for Spinning Sea Stories Ashore – a new article published in Performance Reserch Journal

Performance Reserch JournalThe latest issue of Performance Research Journal, On Writing & Digital Media, edited by Jerome Fletcher, includes an article written by me called: The Broadside of a Yarn: A Situationist Strategy for Spinning Sea Stories Ashore. This articleemerges from my practice-led PhD research at Falmouth University in association with University of the Arts London. It has developed over the course of a number of conference papers presented in France and the UK over the past two years. I am very happy to see it out in the world in this format.

The Broadside of a Yarn: A Situationist Strategy for Spinning Sea Stories Ashore, by J. R. Carpenter, reflects upon The The Broadside of a Yarn, a multi-modal performative pervasive networked narrative attempt to chart fictional fragments of new and long-ago stories of near and far-away seas with nought but a QR code reader and a hand-made print map of dubious accuracy. The Broadside of a Yarn was commissioned by ELMCIP for Remediating the Social, an exhibition which took place at Inspace, Edinburgh, 1-17 November 2012. The Broadside of a Yarn remediates the broadside, a form of networked narrative popular from 16th century onward. Like the broadside ballads of old, the public posting of The Broadside of a Yarn signified that it was intended to be performed. Embedded within the cartographic space of this printed map are QR codes which link to web pages containing computer-generated narrative dialogues, performance scripts replete with stage instructions suggesting how and where these texts are intended to be read aloud. As such, these points on the physical map point to potential events, to utterances, to speech acts. The stated intention in creating this work was to use the oral story-telling tradition of the sailor’s yarn, the printed broadside and map, the digital network, and the walk-able city in concert to construct a temporary digital community connected through a performative pervasive networked narrative. Through the process of composition the focus shifted away from the temptation to lure people on walks through a city tagged with links to stories of the sea, toward a desire to compel people to collectively speak shifting sea stories ashore. This paper reflects critically upon this shift, toward an articulation of The Broadside of a Yarn as an collective assemblage of enunciation.

This is my first experience with publishing in an academic journal barricaded behind a paywall. If you are a student or a faculty member of a university with access to Shibboleth, you should have no problem accessing the contents of Performance Research Journal online. If not, try this link: The Broadside of a Yarn: A Situationist Strategy for Spinning Sea Stories Ashore. If that doesn’t work, drop me a line, I’ll see what I can do.

Book Launch – Art Textiles of the World: Canada

A recent essay by J.R. Carpenter entitled “Mapping Multiplicities: A Narrative of Contingences” has just been published in a new art book, launching on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, 5800 St-Denis Studio 501, Montréal, at 5 pm.

Art Textiles of the World: Canada features essays by Alan Elder, Sandra Alfoldy, J.R. Carpenter, and Lisa Vinebaum, with a foreword by the Editor. The book is devoted especially to the work of twenty important Canadian artists who have developed a very personal language through their mastery of one or more of the various techniques in the field of textiles. The artists presented in the book are:

Jennifer Angus, Ingrid Bachmann, Sandra Brownlee, Dorothy Caldwell, Lyn Carter, Kai Chan, Barb Hunt, Barbara Layne, Louise Lemieux Bérubé, Marcel Marois, Mindy Yan Miller, Lesley Richmond, Ruth Scheuing, Joanne Soroka, Joanna Staniszkis, Patrick Traer, Barbara Todd, Laura Vickerson, Yvonne Wakabayashi and Susan Warner Keene.

From April 15 to May 22, 2009, the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles (MCCT) will take advantage of the publishing of this prestigious book to bring together in its gallery examples of the work of these artists. The art works are varied: murals, sculptures, installations created through the use of new technologies, of traditional techniques and of unusual materials. It is a must-see inventory of creative contemporary Canadian textile art on show until May 22.

The launching of the book and the exhibition will be held on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, 5800 St-Denis Studio 501, Montréal, at 5 pm.
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“Wyoming is Haunted” wins the QWF Carte Blanche Quebec Prize

Last night at the annual Quebec Writers’ Federation Awards Gala at the Lion d’Or in Montreal my recent non-fiction story, Wyoming is Haunted, was awarded the Carte Blanche Quebec Prize. Carte Blanche, the literary review of the Quebec Writers’ Federation, is published online twice a year. The Carte Blanche Quebec prize is awarded once a year in recognition of an outstanding submission by a Quebec writer. The prize is sponsored by The Quebec Writers’ Federation.

Wyoming is Haunted is a nonfiction narrative of some of the adventures fellow fiction-writer Karen Russell and I had while in residence at the Ucross Foundation, an artist in residence program located on a 22,000 acre ranch in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. The piece first appeared Carte Blanche 7 earlier this year. Two other of my short stories have also appeared in earlier issues: Aerial Photograph & Wasn’t One Ocean.

Thanks QWF and Carte Blanche, for all you do for English writing in Quebec, even when it’s from Wyoming. Thanks CALQ for helping me get out way out west. Thanks Ucross for accepting me and Karen Russell at the same time. And thanks Wyoming for scaring the heck out of us. As this photo clearly indicates, Wyoming is pretty damn haunted.

“As we walked we invented fictional colour-names for things, with Flannery O’Connor’s rat-coloured car as our model, though, as Karen noted, makeup colour-names would also be a great source of inspiration. The road was a rawhide strap. The fauns were faun coloured! The Angus cows were so black they looked hollow.”

Excerpted from: Wyoming is Haunted, J. R. Carpenter
Winner of the 2008 Carte Blanche Quebec prize

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Wyoming is Still Haunted

Late in 2006 I spent six weeks in residence at the Ucross Foundation in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. I was supposed to be working on a collection of short stories set mostly in rural Nova Scotia, but in no time Wyoming’s big sky and high plains were demanding most of my writing attention. It didn’t help that the deeply funny Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves, was in the studio down the hall from mine. Every few days we’d go for a walk, which sounds harmless enough, but all of our walks turned into epic adventures. Whenever something happened to us out there in the wild Karen would say: Man, I can’t wait to read about this tomorrow on your blog! I’ve never had such a dedicated audience before.

Now, finally, at long last, the Amazing But True Real Life Wild West Adventures of J. R. Carpenter and Karen Russell have been published for all the world to read. Published somewhere other than on my blog, that is. Carte Blanche, the literary review of the Quebec Writers’ Federation, has included a condensed version of our adventures in their latest issue: Wyoming is Haunted.

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Studio XX launches MATRICULES: Canada’s largest public online archive of digital artwork by women and one of the world’s largest online archives of women’s digital art. Created with invaluable support from Heritage Canada’s Canadian Culture Online Program and hosted by Studio XX, Mobile Media Lab and the Department of Communication Studies at Concordia University, Matricules will launch on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM at Hexagram Concordia, 1515 Ste-Catherine West (corner Guy) on the 11th floor.

Matricules is an electronic documentary herstory spanning eleven years of research, creation and exploration at Canada’s one-of-a kind Studio XX. Mingle with some of Montreal’s most celebrated new media artists on a spectacular terrace overlooking Montreal and enjoy a performative reading by J.R. Carpenter, two-time winner of CBC’s Quebec Short Story Competition. Prominent interdisciplinary artists Caroline Martel and jake moore will offer their take on the website’s creation process and Matricules Project Director Stephanie Lagueux will give audiences a private tour of this remarkable new digital archive.

The xxxboîte, a limited edition artifact comprised of original texts and a DVD produced in celebration of Studio XX’s first decade will also be presented and available for purchase as an important addition to any contemporary art collection.

Founded in 1996 with the goal of ensuring a defining presence for women in cyberspace and in the development of the digital arts, Studio XX is Canada’s foremost feminist digital art centre for technological exploration, creation and critique. Committed to establishing women’s access to technology, with a strong focus on Open-Source software, Studio XX offers artist residencies, monthly performance salons, an electronic magazine, a weekly radio show and HTMlles: an international biennial cyberarts festival.

“Matricules is a privileged gateway to dazzling integral digital artworks” comments Paulina Abarca-Cantin, Studio XX’s Director General. “This electronic treasure box offers the public live works by greats like Shawna Dempsey, Chantal DuPont, Deborah VanSlet, Women with Kitchen Appliances, Suzanne Kozel, Isabelle Choinière and AGF to name but a very, very few of the best of the best.”

Matricules was made possible through generous support from The Canada Council for the Arts, The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Mobile Media Lab and the Koumbit network. Studio XX wishes to thank its members, volunteers and visionary funding partners including Canadian Heritage’s Canadian Culture Online initiative.
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Con-Textilizing Critical Language

Surfacing - Con-Textilizing Critical LanguageMy essay, Con-Textilizing Critical Language, appears in the winter 2006 issue of Surfacing Journal, a publication of the Textile Artists & Designers Association.

In this essay I suggest that less time be spent worrying about what does or does not pass for criticism, and much more time be spent on thinking about what to say, where and how to say it, and to whom. I contend that the critical decisions made by fibre artists in their work that more than qualifies them as critical voices:

High art, low art, craft or trade – the artist’s ontological position is established through the active generation of “material” language. The choices made – between riotously sexy velvet, florid fuchsia fun fur or deliberately domestic damask – speak volumes. If the vernacular is not official, or correct, or refined, or even immediately recognizably critical – so much the better, I say. Content is more critical than criticism. If the story is a good one, it will get read. So let’s focus on deciding what story to tell and how best to tell it – in fluid script discharged from printed fabric, in re-programmable circuits woven into cloth, in loaded statements laboriously crocheted from continuous thread – and forget for a while about what is or is not said about the story after the fact. Fibre Art, adept as it already is at working in the margins, has its very elusiveness at its disposal in its quest for critical language… the language of Fibre Arts can choose to include the fragmentary, the inconclusive and the digressive. It can be interlaced with texts. It can be something you can’t quite put your finger on, like the tip of a needle. It can also be as cerebral as the head of a needle. Head and point and eye, looking for just the right place to push the point… out, and out loud.

J. R. Carpenter, Con-Textilizing Critical Language, Surfacing Journal, Toronto, WInter 2006.

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