A Handmade Web

I’m headed to Bath Thursday 26 March 2015 to participate in a one-day symposium on Slow Media hosted by the Media Futures Research Centre at Bath Spa University’s Corsham Court campus. I will be speaking about a A Handmade Web. The term ‘handmade’ usually refers to objects made by hand or by using simple tools rather than machines. The result may be homely — as in a child’s clay ashtray — or exquisite — as in a pair of bespoke brogues. I will evoke the term ‘handmade web’ throughout this presentation to refer to web pages coded by hand rather than by software; web pages made and maintained by individuals rather than by businesses or corporations; web pages which are provisional, temporary, or one-of-a-kind; web pages which challenge conventions of reading, writing, design, ownership, privacy, security, or identity.

I’ve made a hyperlinked version of my presentation available online here: http://luckysoap.com/statements/handmadeweb.html

Fishes & Flying Things || J. R. Carpenter, 1995

The above image is from Fishes & Flying Things, my first web-based project, Fishes & Flying Things, made entirely by hand in 19995.

For more information on Slow Media, see: The Origin of Slow Media: Early Diffusion of a Cultural Innovation through Popular and Press Discourse, 2002-2010, by Jennifer Rauch (2011).

Slow Media, Thursday 26th March 2015, Bath Spa University, UK

Slow Media Symposium Draft Programme (PDF)


CityFish – A Coney Island of the Google Maps

I have recently (and admittedly repeatedly) posted about my web-based story CityFish being shortlisted for The New Media Writing Prize 2012. Prior to the shortlist announcement, CityFish had been on my mind for other reasons. CityFish is set in New York City. As the below image indicates, there is a Google Map satellite view of Coney Island embed in CityFish which – for now – shows the beach, boardwalk, amusement park, and bordering residential neighbourhoods in pristine condition. As I hope most people are by now aware, the Coney Island neighbourhood was among those heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy at the end of October 2012. It will take months if not years for these communities to recover, and just as long if not longer for Google’s satellite images to be updated to reflect the effect of climate change on the eastern seaboard.

CityFish || J. R. Carpenter
CityFish || J. R. Carpenter

Although CityFish is intrinsically about dissonance – between past and present, fact and fiction, home and away – I am not sure yet how to reconcile this new dissonance – between the lines of the story I wrote and the new lines of this coast. In particular, I am concerned with the harsh economic dissonance underlined by the response (or lack there of) by FEMA, the Red Cross, the New York City Housing Authority, the mainstream press, and the general public to those hardest hit by Sandy. According to this article by Daniel Marans posted to the Huffington Post yesterday, 12 November 2012 – Occupy Sandy Volunteer Sounds Alarm on ‘Humanitarian Crisis,’ Near-Complete Absence of Government Aid in Coney Island Projects – 30-40 public housing buildings in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn remain without power, and often without water and necessities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Accounts of these conditions have been corroborated in the New York Daily News (5 November 2012).

CityFish || J. R. Carpenter
CityFish || J. R. Carpenter

I relate these concerns out of love for and frustration with the city that half raised me, and half made me crazy, a city that – for as long as I’ve known it – has been sharply divided between have and not. It is my understanding, on the basis of the 21 hours or so a day I spend on Twitter, that the #ocupysandy movement is doing great things on the ground in Coney Island, Red Hook, the Rockaways, and other hard-hit coastal neighbourhoods of New York City. To donate to the Occupy Sandy relief effort, visit OccupySandy.org

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.


Back in Montreal. After a week of wall to wall presentations, performances, pitches and heated discussions in the chill windowlessness of the RICE Television Studio.

Saw every imaginable kind of work (and some unimaginable kinds of work) that works on screens of every size from 800 x 640 to HD to mobile phone. Sold photocopied mini-books to the most digital people. Got pre-cursive with Daniel Canty. And navigated all kinds of interactions, digital and social and nature-related. Hiked the Hoodo trail without the aide of GPS. Bought a touque and stumbled through a string of glittering cold nights. Mingling of new friends and old at sunset BBQs by glacier-fed rivers (two in total), dance parities (impromptu or otherwise), with djs (Mama Fatou or otherwise), live cinema performance from SOLU (Finland via Barcelona), Notsosimpleton Flash art whisked from the wall, Props Pub shenanigans, and whisky in the Leighton Studios. Made it to breakfast all of once, which is one time more than in all of the seven weeks of Babel Babble Rabble, and the construction site outside Lloyd Hall 119 brought new meaning to The Loudest Room.

Clutching a bundle of business cards collected from a cross-country cross-section of business and art world sheer raw talent, and a DVD from the super solid Randy Knott, I left the high sky and hay fever sun sometime yesterday afternoon, in a muddle of loose-end packing, all-at-once good-byes and off campus brunching. Drove to Calgary in a carful (a word like careful, but moving faster down the highway) of some of the best people I know, who I was loath to leave, my dear friends: Girl at Work Sandra Dametto, that Monkey Michael Boyce and Alexis O’Hara of Filthy Lies and movie star eyes. And brand new friend the mad and mighty Clauda, whose name probably isn’t spelled that way at all. Flew through a few time-zones with the irrepressible Matt Donnelly for entertainment. Happy to return to rainy Montreal late last night. Stepped out of the mountains into the heat and humid and wet. And slept, and slept, and slept well for the first time in a week.

photo by alexis o'hara
The Three Wicked Witches of JPL

photo by alexis o'hara
Feeling the Love, and the dancehall, from Mama Fatou

[both photos from the kooky kamera of Alexis O’Hara]
. . . . .

Interactive Active

It’s strange and wonderful to be back at Banff so soon after the Babel Babble Rabble residency. So many memories of so many people in so many unexpected places. I’m am eternally grateful to Emily Page and the BNMI for this opportunity. There are amazing people presenting and performing all day and night and I have to shake my head sometimes to make sure I’m not dreaming, but too hard because a) I don’t want any of this stuff I’m learning to fall out, and b) I’m extremely hung over.

Here are some Interactive Screen and other BNMI URLs:

The Banff new Media Institute

Interactive Screen O.6 Wiki (scroll to bottom for ongoing list of URLs referenced in the conference)

Anne Galloway’s very up-to-date blog on the event

PRE-CURSOR (my presentation)

photo by SOLU: http://www.solu.org
. . . . .


It’s great to be back at Banff. It feels like I never left, only managed to not eat at the dining hall for a few weeks. Interactive Screen 0.6 – Media: Margins: Migrations is well underway. Saturday evening we meeted and greeted in the bracing mountain air. So many amazing people here. Yesterday was our first full day of think tanking. Yesterday evening I went into town to buy a touque because it’s so cold here at night. I presented this AM and am now free to listen, learn and roam. More information on the presentation I just gave and on the conference/think tank in general: http://www.luckysoap.com/is06/
. . . . .

IS 0.6 Abstract

Interactive Screen 0.6 is fast-approaching. The agenda is firming up and abstracts will soon become less so. I present on Monday, August 14, 2006 at 10AM along with Vancouver/New York based artist Kate Armstrong in a session called Creative Commons: Art, Activism, and the Database. Here’s the abstract I sent in moments before yesterday’s deadline:

Pre-Cursor: A discussion of political and pragmatic aspects of independent production, online publication, fabricating fiction and recycling code. J. R. Carpenter will chase narrative threads across media and trace technological continuities between her hypertext fictions and their precursive forms, which include: the book, the zine, the lab report, the slide show, the guide book, the bulletin board and graffiti.

Sound abstract? Here are some specific examples:

The Zine: Fishes & Flying Things

In 1995 I tried to start making zines with a computer instead of a photocopier and wound up making my first website instead. I still make zines with a photocopier.

The Slide Show: Send More Than Words… EVERYBODY LOVES PICTURES

In 2003 I found this sequence of captioned photos that my uncle took and sent to my grandmother 40 years ago and the forgot about. A borrowed slide-show script brought them back to life.

The Lab Report: The Cape

The images, diagrams and maps in The Cape are culled from a hard copy of an Environmental Geologic Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore published in 1979, which happens to be when the story is set.

The Guide Book: How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome

The cluttered interface of How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome is inspired by the pedagogical style of the modern guide book and a 500 year history of travel writing.

Graffiti: Entre Ville

Entre Ville is an amalgam of the graffiti tags, gardens, garbage and gossip of my back alleyway… You can’t make this stuff up.

. . . . .

Interactive Screen

By my calculations I’ve yet to be back from Banff for as long as I was away at Banff for the Babel, Babble, Rabble: On Language and Art residency. And now, thanks to some strange twists of fate, some hustle, and some just plain good fortune, The Banff New Media Institute has invited me to return to participate as a Senior Artist in Interactive Screen, August 13-18, 2006.

Interactive Screen is a new media development think tank now in its 11th year, which is long, in Internet years. Canadian and international new media types converge at Banff each summer to ponder, study, workshop, present, perform, mentor, share, discuss, collaborate and reflect on the current state of new media art and the shape of things to come.

A think tank is not a think tank without a subtitle. This year’s is: Interactive Screen – Margins: Media: Migrations. “Margins can be taken to mean ‘profit.’ They also point the way to the ‘outside’. These terms provide us with a means to turn and twist the meaning of media. Media forms have the power to migrate through the boundaries that define our experience – turning them inside out, and outside in. At the interface, it becomes possible to make ‘profit’ share in the values that we choose to make ours.”

For more official-sounding writing like this please visit the official-looking website: http://www.banffcentre.ca/bnmi/programs/interactive_screen06/

And a think tank needs to be stocked with every size fish. As an independent producer of mostly free art, I fall within the “outside” meaning of “margin” rather than the “profit” meaning. I am extremely grateful to BNMI and the Banff Centre for inviting me anyway, and for paying my airfare, because otherwise I would never in a million years be able to attend, benefit from, or contribute to such an awesome event.

One of the things I was reminded of during the Babel Babble Residency at Banff is that I make really low tech high tech art, and I persist in doing this for some pretty stubborn yet specific reasons. So at Interactive Screen I’ll attempt to address their general theme: High Tech/Low Tech/New Tech/No Tech: innovating, recycling and sharing technologies in a culture of wealth and waste. I’ll talk about artists and independent orginizations and producers near and dear to my heart; indi-publishing and zine culture; how and why I re-use and recycle found images, found texts, and found code; and how I’ve used the web to remain independent and sometimes circumvent certain cumbersome institutions.

I’ll post more as I sort through the ideas and issues of this theme. In the meantime, here are some of my other Internet Writings on related themes:

“Responsa Literature: Partial Replies to Scattered Questions”
“Ingrid Bachmann: Digital Crustaceans v.0.2: Homesteading on the Web”
“A brief history of the Internet as I know it so far”
“A Little Talk about Reproduction”

. . . . .

<< Entre Ville >>

a new web/ poetry/ video project
by J. R. Carpenter


LAUNCH / LANCEMENT: le jeudi 27 avril à 14h30 – Thursday, April 27 at 2:30PM

Salon des amis, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
1380, rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Commissioned by/ Une commande d’oeuvre d’OBORO, Laboratoire nouveaux médias et produite dans le cadre des activités spéciales du 50e anniversaire du Conseil des arts de Montréal

“My studio window opens into a jumbled intimacy of back balconies, yards 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 art poetry project presented in the vernacular of my neighbourhood, where cooking smells, noisy neighbours and laundry lines criss-cross the alleyway one sentence at a time.” J. R. Carpenter, 2006.

“Mon studio donne sur un méli-mélo intime, fait de ruelles, de balcons et de cours arrières. À tous les jours, nous partons à la recherche d’histoires, mon chien et moi, reniflant chaque centimètre de l’antre de cette ville. La poésie n’est pas difficile à trouver entre les longues rangées de clôtures à la peinture craquelante, tapissées d’annonces de toutes sortes, d’abstractions vivement peintes à la bombe, drapées de vignes en cascades. Le résultat est Entre Ville, un projet sur Internet, présenté dans le cadre vernaculaire de mon quartier où la bouffe se sent, où les voisins bruyants et les cordes à linge s’entrecroisent dans la ruelle, une phrase à la fois.” J. R. Carpenter, 2006.

. . . . .

Entre Ville, Commissioned by OBORO

I am pleased and honoured to announce that I have been commissioned by OBORO (Montréal) to create a new web art project to be presented in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Conseil des arts de Montréal in January 2006. As a result, this autumn I will once again have the great pleasure and privilege to work with the fine folks at the Oboro New Media Lab.

Artist’s Statement: My studio window opens into a jumbled intimacy of back balconies, yards 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. The result is Entre Ville, a web-based project presented in the vernacular of my neighbourhood, where cooking smells, noisy neighbours and laundry lines criss-cross the alleyway one sentence at a time.

Saint-Urbain Street HeatSaint-Urbain Street Heat

. . . . .