A retrospective: A perspective: Going on 20 years online

Categories:  conference, electronic literature, exhibition
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A retrospective of my digital literary work was presented at Electrifying Literature: Affordances & Constraints, the Electronic Literature Organization’s 2012 Media Art Show which took place in conjunction with the ELO’s conference in Morgantown, WV, USA, 20-23 June 2012.

A retrospective? Of digital literature? Of my digital literature? Doesn’t quite seem real. In part because Morgantown, West Virginia, is some 6000 miles from where I’m presently sitting. I missed my own retrospective! This, I really can’t believe.

There have been quips of course. Aren’t you a little young for a retrospective? Thanks people, really, I mean it. In internet years I’m approximately 188 years old. But I’ve only been on line about 140 of those years. So, let’s say I got on line when I was 12 or so. Yeah, let’s go with that.

The Electronic Literature Organization retrospective focuses on relatively recent work, from 2005 from the present, including:

The Cape (2005)
Entre Ville (2006)
in absentia (2008)
CityFish (2010)
Along the Briny Beach (2011)
STRUTS (2011)
TRANS.MISSION [A.DIALOGUE] (2011)

For a bit of perspective, I’ve dug out some odds and ends from my early years online – some of it about my work, some of it about the work of other artists or organizations, some of it dating from before the visual web, some of it embarrassing to me now, but… what the heck.

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ID card for internet account in Concrordia’s PAVO Lab.

Fishes & Flying Things (first web-based project, made at the The Banff Centre in 1995)

A Little Talk About Reproduction (drafted as an artist’s talk presented at Studio XX 1998, reworked various times over the years)

A brief history of the Internet as I know it so far (written in 2002 or so, published in Fishpiss in 2003)

“Digital Crustaceans v.0.2: Homesteading on the Web,” Ingrid Bachmann, Gallery Articule, Main Gallery, Montréal, Québec, April 4 – May 4 2003. (art review, published in Fuse in 2004)

Bi-Coastal (short story based on the 3-year stint I spent working undercover in corporate web development)

Getting in on the Ground Floor: A Hazy History of How and Why We Banded Together (written for xxxboîte, an artifact produced in celebration of the first ten years of Studio XX, Montréal, QC, October 2007)

The Cape: The Backstory (about how incredibly long it took me to make The Cape).

Some days it doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been working on line going on twenty years. Many, many thanks to the curators Dene Grigar & Sandy Baldwin for noticing.

Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints

J. R. Carpenter Retrospective

Entre Ville and in absentia included in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume Two

Categories:  electronic literature, Entre Ville, in absentia, launch, publication
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Two of my web-based works – Entre Ville and in absentia – are included in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume Two, which launched in February 2011. [Prese Release]

ELC2

I’m thrilled that Entre Ville and in absentia appear together in this collection. In many ways, they are the before and after pictures of my old neighbourhood, Mile End, Montreal, where I lived for seventeen years.

Entre Ville was commissioned in 2006 by OBORO, an artist-run centre in Montreal, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Conseil des Arts de Montreal. Although I had lived in Montreal for 15 years at the time of the commission, Entre Ville was my first major work about my adopted city. It took me that long to learn the vocabulary. I don’t mean French, or Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Yiddish or any of the other languages spoken in my neighbourhood. I refer, rather, to a visual, tactile, aural, sensorial vocabulary. My home office window opens into a jumbled intimacy of back balconies, yards, gardens and alleyways. Daily my dog and I walk through this interior city sniffing out stories. Poetry is not hard to find between the long lines of peeling-paint fences plastered with notices, spray painted with bright abstractions and draped with trailing vines. Entre Ville is a web-based heat-wave poem presented in the vernacular of my neighbourhood, where cooking smells, noisy neighbours and laundry lines crisscross the alleyway one sentence at a time.

In an intimacy
born of proximity
the old Greek lady and I
go about our business.
Foul-mouthed for seventy,
her first-floor curses fill
my second-floor apartment;
her constant commentary
punctuates my day.

Six months after the launch of Entre Ville, the “star” of Entre Ville, “the old Greek lady,” was evicted from the apartment where she and her husband had lived for twenty-three years. Many long-time low-income tenants were being forced out of the neighbourhood. Fiction was the only way I felt I could give voice to their stories. Our stories – I felt certain my time would come soon enough.

in absentia is a multi-authored multi-lingual site-specific web-based writing project which addresses issues of gentrification and its erasures in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. Faced with imminent eviction, I began to write as if I was no longer there, about a Mile End that was no longer there. I manipulated the Google Maps API to populated “real” satellite images of my neighbourhood with “fictional” characters and events. in absentia is a web “site” haunted by the stories of former residents of Mile End, a slightly fantastical world, a shared memory of the neighbourhood as it never really was but as it could have been. in absentia was created in 2008 with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. It was presented by DARE-DARE Centre de diffusion d’art multidisciplinaire de Montréal. It launched June 24, 2008. New stories were added over the summer, in English and French. A closing party was held in conjunction with the launch of my novel, Words the Dog Knows, (conundrum press), at Sky Blue Door, November 7, 2008.

This is the second collection published by the Electronic Literature Organization. The Electronic Literature Collection Volume One, edited by N. Katherine Hayles, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg and Stephanie Strickland, also included one of my works – The Cape. The long-awaited Electronic Literature Collection Volume Two, edited by Laura Borràs, Talan Memmott, Rita Raley, and Brian Kim Stefans, includes 63 works from Austria, Australia, Catalonia, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Israel, The Netherlands, Portugal, Peru, Spain, UK, and USA; written in Catalan, Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish; Flash, Processing, Java, JavaScript, Inform, HTML, and C++.

ELC2 speaks to both the continuity as well as the bright future of electronic literature. The works include many of the emerging categories of e-lit: mash-ups, geolocative, codework, as well as “traditional” and evolving forms such as hypertext, chatbots, and interactive fiction. The authors list presents readers with both veterans and newcomers to the field.
Electronic Literature Collection Volume Two

Two New Stories Added to In Absentia

Categories:  electronic literature, in absentia
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I just added two new stories to in absentia, a site-specific web-based project about gentrification and its erasures in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal, an intimate and intensely personal investigation of a neighbourhood I lived and worked in for 17 years. in absentia was presented within Dare-Dare‘s Dis/location: projet d’articulation urbaine in 2008. Two weeks after the commencement of the project, Dare-Dare‘s mobile office was evicted from the parc sans nom, the Mile End vacant lot that had been its home for 2 years. A month after the completion of the project I was evicted from the Mile End apartment I lived in for 11 years, effectively forcing me out of the neighbourhood I lived in for 17 years and contributing to my decision to leave Montreal all together, after 19 years.

J. R. Carpenter || in absentiaIronically, and somewhat painfully, dislocation from the locus of this work resulted in many opportunities to present the work around the world. The Mile End represented in in absentia has been exhibited, presented, performed and taught by myself and by others in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Banff, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, Finland, Sweden, Barcelona, Bristol, and other places I am unaware of. In each retelling of in absentia I am re-confronted with the questions that led me to creating the piece in the first place: What traces to people leave behind when they leave a place? What stories spring from absence?

Recently, I was invited to write about in absentia for Dislocation volet II de Dare-Dare, a publication celebrating projects supported by Dare-Dare during the two years they were located in Mile End. The publication project coordinator encouraged me to build on the stories in in absentia and/or write new ones. I other circumstance I would welcome the opportunity to creatively revisit a work in such a way. But in this case, I could not even begin to think about in absentia from the point of view of the person I was when I created the project. I am no longer that person. So much has changed.

The Dislocation volet II de Dare-Dare deadline is looming. I have been fretting. And then today, for whatever reason, two stories came to me – one, two, just like that. Like so many of the things I write, I had already written them, only I hadn’t noticed at the time. One comes from a series of facebook status updates I wrote whilst apartment hunting in Montreal last spring, phrased in the form of a game called: Which would you rather?

Let’s play where would you rather live: A) a god-forsaken place, or B) a dog-forsaken place? Trick question. I can live without god, not with out dog.

The full story can be read by clicking on the A Louer icon in the top left corner of the map on this page: http://luckysoap.com/inabsentia/alouer.html

The other comes from a blog post I wrote at the end of last year, reflecting on Reading Interrupted:

My suitcases and I spent the summer living out of other people’s bookshelves. It turns out that a friend close enough to put you up in a time of need tends to have a book collection close enough to your own to make you and your suitcases feel at home without a home.

The full story can be read by clicking on the books icon on the left side of the map on this page: http://luckysoap.com/inabsentia/perdu.html

I don’t know why the sudden arrival of these new stories from a place now past comes as a surprise to me. I have written of in absentia as a web “site” haunted by the stories of former residents of Mile End, a slightly fantastical world that is already lost but at the same time is still fully known by its inhabitants: a shared memory of the neighbourhood as it never really was but could have been. I am a former resident now, and these stories spring from that absence.

Reading Rebooted: Glimpsing the Future of Literature in the Digital Age

Categories:  electronic literature, in absentia
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Earlier this month, in absentia was included in an exhibition called Reading Rebooted: Glimpsing the Future of Literature in the Digital Age. Reading Rebooted opened its doors on Nov 30, 2009 at 5pm, at the Kipp Gallery, on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. A project of the Kipp Gallery, IUP Center for Digital Humanities and Culture, and students from the Graduate Program in Literature and Criticism, the exhibit aims to “explore the imaginative engagement of poets and fiction writers with the tools of new media. . . inventing a post-Gutenberg space for literature.”

We are interested in thinking about how digital writers engage with the possibilites of public and private, social and individual in their work. And while all of the pieces selected are available on the web (unlike some digital works designed for site-specific installations) and so can be “read” by an individual user on his or her private laptop, in the security of the home, we are placing them in the social space of the gallery.

We wanted to show them in the gallery because we are interested in how visitors to the site will choose to interact with these works. The spatial configuration of the gallery itself is envisioned as offering the visitor significant choices about how to take in these works … to read, use, play, operate, and spectate…

Fourteen works from twelve digital writers were selected for this exhibition: Chris Ault, Alan Bigelow, Serge Bourchardon, J. R. Carpenter, Roderick Coover, Peter Cho, Andrei Gheorghe, David Jhave Johnson, Maria Mencia, Jason Nelson, Jody Zellen and Brian Kim Stefans.

http://readingrebooted.iupdhc.org/
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E-Poetry Festival – Barcelona 2009

Categories:  electronic literature, in absentia, performance, poetry
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Next week I will present in absentia at the 5th edition of the E-Poetry Festival, which will take place in Barcelona May 24th-27, 2009. Artistic and academic events will take place at key Barcelona venues such as the the University of Barcelona, the Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture (CCCB) and the Caixaforum, providing authors the opportunity to present their works to a public curious about new poetry and artistic trends employing technology and communication during the Setmana de la Poesia.

The event is organized by UOC’s research group Hermeneia, with the collaboration of Electronic Poetry Center (University of Buffalo) and the Laboratoire Paragraph (Univ. Paris VIII). Keynote speakers will include Roberto Simanowski (Brown University) and Jean Clément (Université Paris 8).

E-Poetry is an international biennial conference and festival of digital poetry. It is the most significant digital literary gathering in the field, bringing together an impressive roster of Electronic Literature’s most influential practitioners from around the world. Authors and researchers will present the latest research and the newest, most important works of electronic literature will be presented. Presenting at E-Poetry will bring my work to the attention of an influential international audience of critics, academics, practitioners and the public.

For more information or to register, please visit: http://www.e-poetry2009.com/

in absentia is a web-based project that uses fiction, digital images, historical maps HTML, javascript and the Google Maps API to address issues of gentrification and its erasures in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. The result is an interactive non-linear narrative map of interconnected “postcard” stories written from the point of view of former tenants of Mile End. In recent years many long-time low-income immigrant and elderly neighbours have been forced out of their homes by economic decisions made in their absence. The neighbourhood is haunted now, with their stories. Our stories. My building was sold during the production of in absentia. Faced with imminent eviction I began to write as if I was no longer here, about a Mile End that is no longer here. The Mile End depicted in in absentia is a slightly fantastical world, a shared memory of the neighbourhood as it never really was but as it could have been. The sterile and slightly sinister “developer’s-eye-view” of the neighbourhood offered by Google Maps satellite imaging has been populated with stories, interrupted with silhouette voids, intimate traces of the sudden disappearances of characters (fictional or otherwise) from the places (real or imagined) where they once lived.

At E-Poetry I will present the piece by giving a brief contextual overview of the work and then read aloud from a number of the stories contained in the work.
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A Slow Reveal… at The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland

Categories:  electronic literature, in absentia, web art
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Two of my recent web-based works – Entre Ville and in absentia – have been included in a new exhibition at The Art Gallery at the University of Maryland at College Park. A Slow Reveal… launched on March 25, 2009. Over the course of several weeks, the site will reveal projects developed for the internet that employ a variety of forms: from digital narratives, online gaming, open source programming, and database art, to traditional methods of documentary filmmaking in virtual environments.

The first section in A Slow Reveal… explores how the Internet is transforming narratives, through electronic literature, gaming, mash ups, blogging, and transmedia fiction. In these works, the narrative unfolds in RSS syndication through text, still images, video, animation, and sound. The Internet provides individuals and collaborators opportunities to publish innovative re-imaginings of text and image to a potentially large audience, while reaching the smaller niche audiences some works might attract and never reach through traditional print or video distribution. The internet allows for new level of interactivity, from simple navigation and shaping of text to participating as reader/writer/composer/actor. Through mouse clicks and arrow keys, the experience is more like a performance than viewing a static material object.
- Jennie Fleming, The Art Gallery, Associate Director

So far, A Slow Reveal… has revealed works by Kate Pullinger, Chris Joseph, J. R. Carpenter, Andy Campbell, Judi Alston, Annette Weintraub, Roderick Coover, David Clark, Mark Amerika and Jody Zellen.

View A Slow Reveal…
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Guest Lecturer at de Montfort University, Leicester, UK

Categories:  electronic literature, lecture
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The week of November 3rd, 2008, I’ll be a Guest Lecturer at de Montfort University. De Montfort is in Leicester, UK. But I’ll be in my office in Montreal. And the students will be tuning in from the UK, Gambia, and Canada. How is this possible? De Montfort offers an online MA in Creative Writing and New Media.

The Online MA in Creative Writing and New Media is designed for writers interested in experimenting with new formats and exploring the potential of new technologies in their writing. This 95% distance learning course has a unique commitment to the connections between writing and new media and offers an excellent online experience combined with one week’s intensive study at the De Montfort campus. The course is designed by Professor Sue Thomas, writer and former Artistic Director of the trAce Online Writing Centre, and Kate Pullinger, acclaimed novelist and new media writer. It has extensive links with important initiatives including DMU’s Institute of Creative Technologies, research into digital narratives and new media writing, and the creative, digital and publishing industries.

This degree is informed by contemporary thinking on transliteracy, meaning the ability to read, write and interpret across a range of media from orality through print and film to networked environments. Creative Writing, indeed the very nature of text itself, is changing. No longer bound by print, there are many opportunities for writers to experiment with new kinds of media, different voices and experimental platforms, both independently and in collaboration with other writers or other fields and disciplines. Not only is writing evolving, but writers themselves are developing broader expectations and aspirations. Novelists are learning about the potential of hypertext and multimedia to change the ways in which a story can be told. Journalists are finding that blogs and wikis are radically affecting their relationships with their readers. Community artists are discovering powerful collaborative narratives. And the commercial world is finding new and creative ways to interact with its employees and customers in the fast-growing attention economy of the internet. While digital media have altered the way we disseminate and gather information, readers – both online and offline – still hunger for compelling narratives. As readers, we want to be told stories; we want complex and interesting ideas and characters; we want vivid pictures in our heads. As writers we want to communicate. We need good stories well-told, whatever our choice of delivery platform. The MA in Creative Writing and New Media provides an opportunity to focus on developing work at the cutting edge of the new technologies and enables new ways of thinking about narrative.

To visit the current students’ course website and to see examples of the guest lecturers on the programme and successful applicant profiles visit: http://www.creativewritingandnewmedia.com

To read the lecture I’ve prepared for the MA in Creative Writing and New Media visit: Mapping a Web of Words.


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in absentia in Finland – Live Herring 08

Categories:  electronic literature, in absentia, web art
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Live Herring ´08 Media Art Exhibition will be in shown at Jyväskylä Art Museum October 29 – November 23, 2008, in The Lower Gallery, Holvi. Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11-18. Free entrance to The Lower Gallery. http://www.liveherring.org/

Live Herring ´08 media art exhibition presents media art as diverse phenomenon, with a concentration on new media art. The exhibition space will be filled with reflections and sounds. At the same time as interactive art works invite visitors to participate, in the Net dot lounge visitors can explore net art in privacy. In the exhibition there are pieces from nine artists living in Nordic countries. For Net dot lounge and Flash lounge there was an open call for submission for artists from all over the world.

Artists in the exhibition (selected from submissions):
Heidi Aho (Finland), Päivi Hintsanen (Finland), Tomi Knuutila (Finland), Mari Keski-Korsu (Finland), Antti Laitinen (Finland), Jone Skjensvold (Norway), Video Jack (Portugal/SFinland), Bjørn Wangen (Sweden), Nora Westerberg (Finland)

Net dot Lounge presents following artists:
Chris Basmajian (USA), Jeroen van Beurden (Netherlands), Filip Bojovic & Vladimir Manovski (Russia), Martin John Callanan (UK), J. R. Carpenter (Canada), Annabel Castro (Mexico), David Clark (Canada), Juliet Davis (USA), Andy Deck (USA), Jason Freeman (USA), Sami Heikkinen (Finland), Päivi Hintsanen & Noora Nenonen (Finland), Yael Kanarek (USA), Sara Milazzo (Finland), Adam Nash & Mami Yamanaka (Australia), Jason Nelson (Australia), Oskar Ponnert (Sweden), Rafael Rozendaal (Germany/Brazil), Silas FONG Sum-yu (Hong Kong//China), Sérgio Tavares (Brazil), Martin Wattenberg (USA), Ant Ngai Wing-Lam (Hong Kong/China)

Live Herring ‘08 exhibition net artworks (via submission + invited) can be viewed from:
http://www.liveherring.org/08_web/net_exhibition.htm

Flash Lounge, animations from following artists:
Anni Kinnunen (Finland), Jonna Markkula (Finland), Aku Meriläinen (Finland), Santeri Piilonen (Finland), Petri Tiainen (Finland), Väsyneistö (Finland)

The Exhibition expands outside of the museum building when the artist Antti Laitinen continues his art project Walk the Line in Jyväskylä. Laitinen will realize this self-portrait for the first time as a live performance. He will walk at the streets of the city with the GPS –navigator. The performance will start on October 27th, 2008 at 12 p.m. Helsinki time (gmt +02:00) / 10 a.m. London time (gmt +00:00) and it can be followed on the internet. The link for this performance will be announced on the Live Herring website on October 24th. The outcome will be his self-portrait drawn with the help of navigator into the map of the Jyväskylä. This work will be exhibited in the exhibition along with the other pieces from this series.

Another guest artist of the exhibition is media artist Mari Keski-Korsu. She will arrive for afternoon tee to Jyväskylä on Nov 7th at 4.30 p.m. She will tell about her work Mega with which she is participating to the exhibition, but also about art project Mikropaliskunta.

Live Herring ´08 will be visible also in outside of the museum building. As a part of the exhibition there will be also short screenings of media art from the window of Jyväskylä Art Museum to the Kauppakatu each Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m. In November Live Herring visits The Arctic & Fabulous film festival and House Games exhibition.

If you have questions about media art or you want guiding to exhibition, we invite you to meet “Live Herring media art adviser” who is on a call on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons at exhibition. Public guiding will be also organized on Saturday Nov 15th and on Sunday Nov 23rd at 2 p.m.

Live Herring working group is cooperating for the exhibition with local enterprises. Exhibition has been supported by AudioCenter, GPS-seuranta and Kopijyvä. For exhibition cooperation is also done with University of Jyväskylä, Department of Art and Culture Studies. Live Herring ´08 exhibition has been financially supported by Arts Council of Finland and The Finnish Cultural Foundation.

The name Live Herring comes from the Online Net Art Gallery Spirited Herring – the first Finnish open-to-all net art gallery, online since 1997.

http://www.liveherring.org/
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in absentia on Six-years.com

Categories:  electronic literature, in absentia
Tags:

Keep it simple. Will it work? Keep it very [very] simple. Will it still work? Could less [still] be more?

This week’s issue of http://www.six-years.com features work by J. R. Carpenter. Six-years.com is a project that is trying to make it work. [Simple.] It is an attempt to un-design the over-designed medium of the Internet. Initially conceived as a parasite to Carlos Motta’s online magazine artwurl.org, six-years.com developed into a creature of its own. Every week one individual from this flock of emerging critic/curator hybrids will put up four pages of images, audio, video, or text cycling to a virtual dead-end. Like it?[1]

Imagine one of those nights that starts with a [dense] talk at, let’s say, Night School[2], then leads to drinks in Park Slope[3] (and everything else that naturally[4] comes with it). Getting home just about the time when they stop selling beer in gas stations[5], laying over the kitchen table, you don’t feel like reading the rest of Irit Rogoff’s “smuggling”, but you still want to stay awake. In this case, the editors of six-years.com invite you to visit this website stripped down of curatorial rhetoric with the promise that you will forget about it all in the morning, late for work.

Montreal-based artist J. R. Carpenter has reinterpreted an existing web-based writing project for the Six Years site. Originally commissioned by media and distribution center Dare-Dare, Carpenter’s In Abstentia injects creative writing in her web-representation of a gentrified Montreal neighborhood. For more information on the artist and about In Abstentia, visit the artist’s website http://luckysoap.com/. This Six Years webproject will be active from October 24 –October 31, 2008, and is organized by Mireille Bourgeois.
______________________

[1] Why not?
[2] Or whatever.
[3] Whatever.
[4] Play it safe.
[5] 4 am.
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Interrupt IRQ

Categories:  electronic literature, in absentia
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Interrupt is a festival celebrating writing and performance in digital media in Providence, Rhode Island, Friday October 17th – Sunday the 19th. Events are hosted by Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. Participating artists will share work that in some way addresses the theme of the festival: Interrupt.

Why “Interrupt”? In computing, a hardware interrupt request or IRQ is used to prioritize the execution of certain processes over others. It is a command sent to the processor to get its attention, signaling the need to initiate a new operation. A series of IRQ roundtables will promote the maximum possible open discussion amongst all those attending. There will be a number of prominent, named critics, theorists, and artists who will have been asked to speak, but they will not give papers or even ‘panel-style’ presentations. Instead they will prepare an IRQ. I have been asked to speak. Being invited to interrupt is a rare opportunity. Here is my IRQ:

When I first heard the theme of the Interrupt festival I thought: Perfect! I’m a champion interrupter; everyone says so.

One of my earliest memories is of my mother telling me to stop interrupting. I remember standing next to her, waiting for it to be my turn to speak. There was never a break in the conversation. At first I thought this was because my mother was loquacious, from the Latin: loqu, to speak. But interlocution is speech between two or more persons, I reasoned. Surely, eventually, my turn would come.

An interlocutor is someone who takes part in a conversation. An interloper, in my experience, is someone who would like to take part in a conversation but who is unable to interpret the complex laws of interlocution.

Gradually I realized that my mother’s imperative that I stop interrupting arose from her disavowal of the interruption inherent in interlocution. The word “interlocution” is the past participle of interloqu.

inter + loqu = to interrupt + to speak.

My mother’s preferred modus loqui was the soliloquy.

solus + loqu = alone + to speak.

It was never going to be my turn to speak. So I learned to write instead.

My most recent electronic literature project, in absentia, hacks the Google Maps API to interrupt a sterile satellite view of my neighbourhood with short stories of displacement written from multiple points of view, by multiple authors, in multiple languages. In recent years many of my long-time, low-income neighbours have been forced out by gentrification. The neighbourhood is haunted now, with their stories. Our stories. Our building is for sale; we may be next. Faced with imminent eviction, and once again excluded from the official conversation, my only recourse is to interrupt. With silhouette voids, cryptic signage and quick glimpses. Some one has to say something. These small details of our daily lives are not visible from space and are all too soon to be erased.

Here is one excerpt from in absentia:

Our building is for sale. Our landlord has been making us crazy with renovations that we don’t want, superficial fixes that surely won’t fool anyone. Last weekend he decided he didn’t need to warn us in advance that he’d be replacing the front steps to our second-floor apartment because, technically, the repairs weren’t inside our apartment. Likewise, this week he didn’t warn us that he’d be painting the new steps, and the cast-iron fence out front, and all day we were trapped inside while the rust-proof-paint fumes wafted through our rooms. Yesterday morning he over-heard me calling him a fucking moron. I’m warning you, he shook his fist like a sitcom villain. This morning he affixed a NO BIKES sign to the freshly painted front fence in the exact same spot where I’ve been locking my bike for the past ten years. I guess he means business. I guess this means war.
J. R. Carpenter || in absentia


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