LEA New Media Exhibition: Re-Drawing Boundaries

Three of my web-based works are included in Re-Drawing Boundaries, a new online New Media Exhibition launched in April 2011 by Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA), the electronic arm of the pioneer art journal, Leonardo – Journal of Art, Science & Technology, published by MIT Press.

Re-Drawing Boundaries

Over a fifteen-week period Re-Drawing Boundaries will present a spectrum of recent and older works by an international selection of artists working in the emerging and often overlapping fields of Locative Media, New Media and Mapping. The exhibition aims to represent cross-pollination and progression between these works, artists and artistic territories.

In each of the three web-based narrative map works of mine to be featured in week ten of Re-Drawing Boundaries, maps operate – often simultaneously – as images, interfaces, and stand-ins for far-away places and pasts that could never be mine. My early adoption of the web as a narrative medium was due in part to my attraction to the internet as a place-less place. These web “sites” may be read as repositories for longings for belonging, for home.

Mythologies of Landforms and Little Girls [1996]

The Cape [2005]

CityFish [2010]

Re-Drawing Boundaries is curated by Jeremy Hight, with senior curators Lanfranco Aceti and Christiane Paul. The selected artists are:

Kate Armstrong, Alan Bigelow, Louisa Bufardeci, Laura Beloff, J.R Carpenter, Jonah Brucker Cohen, Vuk Cosic, Fallen Fruit, Luka Frelih, Buckminster Fuller, Rolf Van Gelder, Natalie Jeremijenko, Carmin Kurasic, Paula Levine, Mez, Lize Mogel, Jason Nelson, Christian Nold, Esther Polak, Proboscis, Kate Pullinger, Carlo Ratti, Douglas Repetto, Teri Rueb, Stanza, Jen Southern, Kai Syng Tan, Jeffrey Valance, Sarah Willams, Jeremy Wood, Tim Wright.

I’m thrilled to be in such great company.

For more information on this exhibition, visit: http://www.leoalmanac.org/index.php/lea/exhibition/lea_new_media_exhibition/

Download: LEA New Media Exhibition: Re-Drawing Boundaries Press Release (PDF)

Follow LEA on: Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo.

Reading at Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab, Carlton University

I’m headed to Ottawa for a few days to do a reading and to check out StoryTrek system at the Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab, a new Digital Humanities research facility at Carleton University. Hypermedia Lab members collaborate on research projects related to digital text and narrative, game studies, theatre, film and new media cultures.

StoryTrek: A System for Itinerant Hypernarrative is a new hypertext system for mobile computing that adds fine-grained locational functionality to the “live hypernarrative” system, an adaptive, online e-literature engine that builds stories on-the-fly from data mined in real time from the internet. With funding from SSHRC’s Image, Text, Sound and Technology (ITST) program, the folks at Hypermedia Lab are integrating textual interfaces with GPS and digital mapping tools for the delivery of site-specific information in narrative form, allowing authors to create narratives that are geospatially sensitive and location-specific.

Tuesday, March 9th, 4 pm, I’ll read from recent work at Carlton University, 2017 Dunton Tower, wherever that is. Hopefully someone with GPS and digital mapping tools for the delivery of site-specific information in narrative form will guide me to the venue. The reading is presented by The Department of English and The Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab. A reception will follow. It’s all free and all are welcome!
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DARTING: A Collective Story Map

Over a period of five weeks a collective of writers of the River Dart worked collaboratively on a web-based writing project about the River Dart and the history – fictional or otherwise – of Dartington Hall. A series of short texts were written separately, for zines, postcards and blog posts. These texts were then collected, found texts and images were added, and all were collated onto this Google Map:


For more information on how the writers of the River Dart came to collectively create DARTING: A Collective Story Map, visit their blog: http://dartingmap.blogspot.com/
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in absentia launch party under the Van Horne Viaduct

When Dare-Dare first accepted in absentia for their 2008 season, I was hoping it would launch sometime very late in the season. I had already committed to launching Tributaries & Text-Fed Streams in the spring and Words the Dog Knows in the fall so already 2008 was looking like a crazy year. But, as fate would have it, just as Dare-Dare was sending out notification that they’d accepted my project on gentrification in the Mile End, they received notification of their own eviction from the parc sans nom that has been their home in Mile End for the past few years. They had to be out by July 1st so it made sense to launch my project at the end of June as a farewell to the neighbourhood. When Dare-Dare proposed launching “in absentia” on June 24th, Saint-Jean Baptiste Day, I thought: What the hell – the national holiday thing will distract everyone if the work isn’t quite done.

Stéphane came home from work on Saturday and said: Hey, there are posters with your name on them all over the neighbourhood. Posters, I said. What a good idea. I had proofed a draft of a poster, but it hadn’t quite occurred to me that someone would then post the posters and that people would see them. Dare-Dare has been great to work with. By tacit mutual agreement, we don’t pester each other with details. They do their part and I do my part and somehow it all gets done. Stéphane said: Your event is being billed as the neighbourhood Saint-Jean Baptiste Day party. That’s a big deal, he assured me. One poster was in the exact location of one of the stories in absentia. Many dear friends of mine have lived in the building directly across the street over the years, and all have been evicted now.

Monday afternoon I took the long metro ride east to Pix IV for an interview on CIBL’s 4á6 show. CIBL is also a big deal, according to Stéphane – the last word in community radio in this town. Not only had I never heard of it, somehow I’d managed to live in Montréal for nearly 18 years without ever doing a live radio interview in French. How embarrassing. How terrifying. How did it go? Well, fine I think… but then how would I know? It was fun, at least. And there was a Village des Valeurs next door. After the interview went shopping for an outfit to wear to the launch party and with thrilled to find this four-dollar skirt.

Tuesday’s forecast called for 40% chance of showers. There were showers for 40% of the day. As I was leaving the apartment for tech set up at 2PM I said: It had better rain now and get it over with. It started to rain within seconds. After about twenty minutes it was over with and we had clear skies for the rest of the night.

Arriving at the sans nom the first thing I noticed was that a porto-pottie had been set up next to the Dare-Dare trailer. I was glad that they’d thought of it, I certainly hadn’t. I’ve never had a launch event large enough to require the procurement of a porto-pottie before. This career high was mediated somewhat by the realization that in absentia would be displayed throughout the launch event on two antique iMac computers. “They’re are already in the museum of 20th century design,” Dare-Dare director Jean-Pierre assured me as we set them up on a picnic table outside the Dare-Dare trailer. We had to run network cables out to them, because they were built before wireless networks existed. But the piece ran amazingly well on them, and really, what better computers to withstand nearly 12 hours outdoors in sun, wind, blowing grit and hundreds of beery users?

Hundreds did indeed show up. They came in waves, so at first I didn’t notice how the scale of the thing kept changing. I just drifted from one conversation to the next. The NT2 polka dot crew represented and team OBORO came out in force. “in absentia” guest authors Daniel Canty and Alexis O’Hara were present as were many other dear friends. Over all I only knew a fraction of the people there. The crowd was mixed: kids, dogs, punks, artists, friends, locals and a few friendly local mentally insane folks. I took their presence as a huge complement. If the local mentally insane know that your party is THE Saint-Jean Baptiste Day party to be at you have really made it in this town. Many people were unaware of what the party was for or about other than that it was about having a party, which was certainly one of the things this party was about. Other people were acutely aware of what the work that prompted the party was all about. Stories of evictions from Mile End abounded. Someone on the Dare-Dare selection committee told me that Dare-Dare hadn’t yet been evicted from the parc sans nom when they accepted “in absentia” but he and a number of the other Dare-Dare members had already been forced to move. One guy came up and told me he’d been at home packing when he’d heard about the project and the party on the radio and decided to come check it out. Wow.

The police came three times on account of noise complaints, which totally eclipsed the on-site porto-potties as my new career high. The bicycle cops have the shapeliest legs. The programming director of Dare-Dare gave “in absentia” postcards and I merrily introduced myself to each and every officer as “the artist” which confused the heck out of them. It’s pretty hard to argue with a Saint-Jean block party, especially considering it would be Dare-Dare’s last party every in the parc sans nom. I mean, what were the police going to do, evict us? Everybody remained peaceful, the police left us in peace and people went on dancing until 2AM.

The official cocktail of the evening was the mojito, which was also the official cocktail of my wedding. This was pure coincidence as I had so little to do with the party planning I didn’t even know there would be an official cocktail. All the bartenders were volunteers, as were all the dj’s: Julie d, Tommy T, Rustic, Backdoor, Dirty Boots, papa dans maman, catherine lovecity, alakranx, cristal 45 et FSK1138 & jason j gillingham. FSK1138 & jason j gillingham did some kind of crazy live set using sounds extracted from the blue and red values of photo data taken from images of in absentia. The sound data was extracted using ‘BeepMap‘ a flstudio image synth. A few days later FSK1138 dropped off a CD of these sounds in my mailbox. A few days later FSK1138 popped a CD of these sounds in my mailbox. Thank you guys, so much.

I’m blown away by the generosity of all these volunteers and mightily impressed by the hard work and dedication of the Dare-Dare community. All night the programming director of Dare-Dare worked crowd control with a super grounded zen like calm, negotiating with the police and the locals and the drunks and the crazies and me the artist and picking up empties and taking photos and restocking the bar with beer. At some point I said to someone, “Man, can you imagine being the guy in charge of all this?”

At some other point in the evening I was sitting with a group of friends watching the masses dancing, casting wild elongated shadows on the underside of the Van Horne Viaduct when it hit me that there were more people at this party than there had been in my entire elementary school. I tried to explain how overwhelming this was. Someone said: “What did you go to a Montessori school or something?” No, I just grew up in a place where there were that few people! When I was a kind in rural Nova Scotia most folks scoffed when I said I was going off the big city to study fine arts in university. When I started making art on the Internet most folks scoffed and said: “The Internet’s just a fad, it will never catch on.” So I found it beautiful that a web-based fiction project could bring so many real people together in a physical space.

At some very late point in the evening I was standing on the steps of the Dare-Dare trailer taking night photos each on more surreal than then next yet not quite able to capture the scene when artistic director Jean-Pierre passed by and asked me if I was enjoying my party. My party? “It’s bigger than all of us,” I said. One of the stated aims of in absentia is so “haunt” the neighbourhood with the stories of its former tenants (fictional or otherwise) who have been forced out by gentrification. If my night photos are any indication than yes, I think my plan is working.

in absentia is now online: http://luckysoap.com/inabsentia. I will continue to add new stories over the course of the summer until November 2008. It will take at least that long for all of the ramifications of this project to sink in. If you have stories of gentrification and its erasures in the Mile End feel free to add them as comments to this post or summit them via the comment box within the piece.
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in absentia – a new web project by J. R. Carpenter

in absentia is a new web-based writing project by J. R. Carpenter that addresses gentrification and its erasures in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. In this work J. R. Carpenter uses HTML, javascript and the Google Maps API to create an interactive non-linear narrative of interconnected “postcard” stories written from the point of view of former tenants of Mile End forced out by gentrification. This project features new fiction by J. R. Carpenter with guest authors: Lance Blomgren, Andy Brown, Daniel Canty and Colette Tougas. New stories will continue to be be added throughout the summer and into the all of 2008. http://luckysoap.com/inabsentia

in absentia is a Latin phrase meaning “in absence.” I’m drawn to the contradiction inherent in being in absence. In recent years many long-time low-income neighbours being forced out of Mile End by economically motivated decisions made their absence. So far fiction is the best way I’ve found to give voice these disappeared neighbours, and the web is the best place I’ve found to situate their stories. Our stories. My building is for sale; my family may be next. Faced with imminent eviction I’ve begun to write about the Mile End as if I’m no longer here, and to write about a Mile End that is no longer here. By manipulating the Google Maps API, I am able to populate “real” satellite images of my neighbourhood with “fictional” characters and events. I aim to both literally and figuratively map the sudden disappearances of characters, fictional or otherwise, from the places, real or imagined, where they once lived; to document traces people leave behind when they leave a place, and the stories that spring from their absence. in absentia is 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.

Themes of place and displacement pervade my fiction and electronic literature, yet place long remained an abstract, elusive notion for me. Perhaps because for many years I wrote about long ago places attempting to inhabit pasts that could never be mine. Mapping the minutia of my most immediate surroundings has made my notion of place less abstract and more socially engaged. Writing about my neighbours has made me aware that I write from amongst them, thus engendering a “we” point of view. Increasingly, my work is collaborative. In in absentia (June 2008) I join a cast of writers from my neighbourhood to pen “postcards” to and from former tenants, fictional or otherwise, displaced by gentrification and it’s erasures.

in absentia also marks the end of DARE-DARE’s Dis/location: projet d’articulation urbaine in the Mile End’s parc sans nom. The mobile office will leave the vacant lot that was its home for two years and move towards Montréal’s dowtown, in Cabot Square, corner Sainte-Catherine and Atwater. http://dare-dare.org

J. R. Carpenter is a two-time winner of the CBC Quebec Short Story Competition and a Web Art Finalist in the Drunken Boat PanLiterary Awards 2006. Her novel Words the Dog Knows is forthcoming from Conundrum in the fall of 2008. Her short fiction and electronic literature have been published and exhibited internationally and can be found on http://luckysoap.com.

in absentia projet web de J.R. Carpenter inauguré le 24 juin au parc sans nom
DARE-DARE avec nouvelles oeuvres de fiction signées J. R. Carpenter, avec auteurs invités: Lance Blomgren, Andy Brown, Daniel Canty, Alexis O’Hara et Colette Tougas La réalisation du projet se poursuivra jusqu’au 30 novembre 2008. http://luckysoap.com/inabsentia

in absentia est un projet d’écriture sur le Web qui traite de la gentrification dans le quartier Mile-End de Montréal et des disparitions qu’elle entraîne. J.R. Carpenter utilise le HTML, le JavaScript et les cartes API-Google pour créer une narration interactive non linéaire constituée d’histoires « cartes postales » écrites selon le point de vue d’anciens locataires du Mile-End forcés de quitter leur logement à cause de la gentrification. Le projet débutera le 24 juin et se poursuivra au cours de l’été et de l’automne 2008.

« L’expression latine in absentia signifie “en l’absence de”. Au cours des dernières années, plusieurs de mes voisins à faible revenu qui habitaient le Mile-End depuis longtemps ont été forcés de quitter le quartier en raison de décisions d’ordre économique prises en leur absence. À ce jour, la fiction s’avère le meilleur moyen pour raconter l’histoire de mes voisins disparus et le Web, le meilleur endroit où afficher leur histoire. Notre histoire. L’immeuble que j’habite est à vendre; ma famille et moi subirons peut-être le même sort prochainement. Menacée d’expulsion, j’ai commencé à écrire sur le Mile-End comme si je n’y étais plus et à écrire sur le Mile-End qui n’est plus. En manipulant les cartes API-Google, il m’est possible de peupler de personnages fictifs les “vraies” images satellites de mon quartier et d’inventer des situations. Je cartographie – au sens propre et figuré – la disparition soudaine de personnages fictifs ou non, des endroits où ils ont habité véritablement ou dans l’imaginaire. Je documente les traces que les gens laissent derrière eux lorsqu’ils quittent un endroit ainsi que l’histoire qui émerge de leur absence. in abstentia est un “site” Web hanté par les histoires d’anciens résidants du Mile- End, un univers quasi-fantastique déjà disparu, mais pourtant bien connu de ses habitants: la mémoire commune d’un quartier tel qu’il n’a jamais vraiment été, mais qui aurait pu être. »

« Mes oeuvres de fiction et de littérature électronique baignent dans les thèmes du lieu et du déplacement et pourtant, le lieu est longtemps demeuré un concept abstrait et imprécis à mes yeux. Peut-être parce que j’ai longtemps écrit au sujet de lieux qui n’existaient plus, tentant de m’inscrire dans des passés qui ne pouvaient pas être les miens. »

« Cartographier les menus détails de mon univers immédiat a fait en sorte que je conçois la notion de lieu de façon moins abstraite et avec un plus grand engagement social. En écrivant sur mes voisins, je me suis rendu compte que je me situais parmi eux pour écrire et que, par conséquent, j’adoptais une écriture au “nous”. Je travaille de plus en plus en collaboration. Pour in absentia, je me joins à une équipe d’auteurs de mon quartier pour écrire des “cartes postales” destinées à ou provenant d’anciens locataires, qu’ils soient fictifs ou non, déplacés par la gentrification et les disparitions qu’elle entraîne. »

in absentia marque également la fin du présent volet de Dis/location: projet d’articulation urbaine – ainsi que de la présence de DARE-DARE dans le parc sans nom du Mile-End. La roulotte quittera le site inoccupé où elle était établie depuis deux ans, en route pour le square Cabot au centre-ville de Montréal, à l’angle de Ste-Catherine et Atwater. http://dare-dare.org

J. R. Carpenter est deux fois lauréate du Concours de nouvelles de CBC Quebec et finaliste au volet Web Art pour le prix Drunken Boat PanLiterary 2006. Son roman Words the Dog Knows paraîtra à l’automne 2008 aux éditions Conundrum. Ses oeuvres de fiction et de littérature électronique ont été publiées et présentées ici et à l’étranger et sont disponibles en ligne au http://luckysoap.com.
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in absentia launch party June 24th

Join us for the launch of in absentia – a new web writing project by J.R. Carpenter with guest authors: Lance Blomgren, Andy Brown, Daniel Canty and Colette Tougas. in absentia is presented by DARE-DARE Centre de diffusion dart multidisciplinaire de Montral.

DARE-DARE will host an in absentia launch party on Saint-Jean Baptiste Day, June 24th from 5 – 11PM in the parc sans nom (St. Laurent @ Van Horn). The event is free and open to everyone. There will be DJs and a cash bar and possibly a laser light show, if I have time!

The launch of in absentia marks the end of DARE-DARE’s Dis/location: projet d’articulation urbaine. On July 1st, DARE-DARE’s blue trailer will leave the vacant lot that was its home for two years and move towards Montréal’s downtown, in Cabot Square, corner Sainte-Catherine and Atwater. The launch of in absentia will be the last event held in the Mile End’s parc sans nom, so please come and make it a great one.

in absentia is a web-based writing project that addresses issues of gentrification and its erasures in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal. In recent years many long-time low-income neighbours being forced out of Mile End by gentrification. So far fiction is the best way I’ve found to give voice these disappeared neighbours, and the web is the best place I’ve found to situate their stories. Our stories. My building is for sale; my family may be next. Faced with imminent eviction I’ve begun to write as if I’m no longer here, about a Mile End that is no longer here. By manipulating the Google Maps API, I am able to populate “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. The project will launch in Montreal and on-line on June 24, and new stories will continue to be added until November 30, 2008.

DARE-DARE Centre de diffusion d’art multidisciplinaire de Montréal est situé dans un parc sans nom entre Saint-Laurent et Clark, entre Arcade et Rosemont/Van Horne, Montréal. For more information please visit: dare-dare.og
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