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

Categories:  electronic literature, performance writing, publication, Writing Coastlines
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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.

A Few Views on Interviews

Categories:  electronic literature, interview, performance writing
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I’ve been interviewed by some really very clever people lately, enough so to prompt me to finally create an INTERVIEWS page for my website. Here are a few highlights:

Last Friday the Montreal-based online journal Lemon Hound published Elvia Wilk in Conversation with J. R. Carpenter, the latest installment in an ongoing conversation Berlin-based writer and editor Elvia Wilk and I have been having since first meeting at In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge at The Banff Centre in 2013. Elvia and I met up in London last autumn to dissect various (misleading) terms in the fields of art, net art, literature, and electronic literature. Our conversation ranged over projects both new and old. We discussed code as performance writing, and ending up on the topic of islands as topos, possible only in literature…

Back in January I answered questions from Andrea Zeffiro for J.R. Carpenter: Object-Oriented Interview by Andrea Zeffiro, an interview published by the Media Archaeology Lab at University of Colorado at Boulder. We called it an object-oriented interview because of its focus on, well, objects – including but not limited to slide projectors, cameras, photocopy machines, Roman ruins, geology, process, pragmatics and more… with many thanks to Lori Emerson and team at the Media Archaeology Lab in Boulder.

In November of last year Illya Szilak interviewed me for Huffington Post Books. Here is the resulting article: Reorienting Narrative: E-lit as Psychogeography.

And here’s a video Interview David Jhave Johnston did with me at The Banff Centre about two years ago as part of the series Conversations with Poets about Technology (CAPTA).

JR Carpenter from David (Jhave) Johnston on Vimeo.

Many thanks to all of these interviewers and publishers. For more see: http://luckysoap.com/interviews.html

Seven Short Talks About Islands . . . and by islands I mean paragraphs.

Categories:  conference, lecture, performance, performance writing
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On Friday 14 March 2014 I will present a performance paper called “Seven Short Talks About Islands . . . and by islands I mean paragraphs” at MODULAR FORM: A SYMPOSIUM ON CREATIVE PRACTICE, a one-day symposium hosted by ReWrite, the Centre for Research in Creative and Professional Writing at Roehampton University, in conjunction with Writing-PAD.

…and by islands I mean paragraphs is a web-based work which is both composed and displayed in a modular format. A sea of white space extends far beyond the horizon of the browser window, to the north, south, east and west. Navigating (with mouse, track pad, or arrow keys) reveals that this sea is dotted with islands… and by islands I mean computer-generated paragraphs. These fluid JavaScript compositions draw upon variable strings containing fragments of text harvested from a vast literary corpus ­– Deluze’s Desert Islands, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Bishop’s Crusoe in England, Coetzee’s Foe, Ballard’s Concrete Island, Hakluyt’s Voyages and Discoveries, and many other lesser-known sources including an out-of-date guidebook to the Scottish Isles and an amalgam of accounts of the classical and possibly fictional island of Thule. Individually, each of these textual islands represents a topic ­ from the Greek topos, meaning place. Collectively they constitute a topographical map of a sustained practice of reading and re-reading and writing and re-writing on the topic of islands. In this constantly shifting sea of variable texts one will never find the same island twice… and by islands, I really do mean paragraphs.

... and by islands I mean paragraphs || J. R. Carpenter 2013
… and by islands I mean paragraphs || J. R. Carpenter 2013

I will present this modular work in a modular format loosely informed by Anne Carson’s Short Talks and Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will. I will offer a brief introduction, and then navigate the work. As I come across textual islands I will offer short ‘talks’ on them. Each of these ‘talks’ will be composed of a selection of the fragments contained in that particular island’s variable strings.

For example, here is a ‘talk’ based on an island composed of fragments of text from “A Topical Paradise,” an essay by Hernán Díaz:

Islands are ['places that have become commonplaces', 'perfect topics', 'literal metaphors', 'possible only in literature']. Topical islands are ['figures of radical isolation', 'off the map', 'off the chart', 'always virgin', 'blind spots on the surface of the known', 'shrouded in obscurity’, ‘isolated in the present', 'silent', beyond time', 'in a time zone of their own']. They are paragraphs. They ['separate the narrative body from the referential mainland', 'separate the text from the writer's desk', 'separate the text from the reader's finger's', 'surround and enclose the text', 'create their own context']. They are [‘textual shores', 'marginal', 'not part of the central body of the text', 'a physical space on the page', 'engulfed in a textual sea'].

And here is a ‘talk’ based on an island composed of fragments of text from J. M. Coetzee’s novel Foe:

I am ['cast away', 'a castaway’, 'indeed cast away', 'not a bird of passage', 'not a prisoner', 'not a story', 'not persuaded', 'unknown to myself', 'wondering how I come to be here', 'saved', 'on an island yet', 'alone on the waves', 'alone', 'all alone', 'a woman alone', 'a woman cast ashore', 'a woman washed ashore', 'a free woman', 'now a madwoman', 'waiting for the book to be written that will set me free'].

... and by islands I mean paragraphs || J. R. Carpenter 2013
… and by islands I mean paragraphs || J. R. Carpenter 2013

Practitioners have been invited to MODULAR FORM: A SYMPOSIUM ON CREATIVE PRACTICE from a diverse range of fields, including digital writing, performance art, curatorial studies, poetry, music, and psychoanalysis, to discuss the deployment of short and/or minimal units of text.

MODULAR FORM CONTRIBUTORS AND TEXTS

J.R. Carpenter, “Seven Short Talks About Islands …and by islands I mean paragraphs.”

Vincent Dachy, “Free Associations! Or Weaving with the Wind.”

James Davies, “Minimalism and Modularity.”

Rupert Loydell and Kingsley Marshall, “CONTROL & SURRENDER. Eno Remixed: Collaboration & Oblique Strategies.”

Kaja Marczewska, “Modular form as a Curatorial Practice.”

Nathan Walker, “Six Words Short: Textual Instruction Events.”

ROEHAMPTON UNIVERSITY

The symposium will be held at Grove House on the main campus of Roehampton University on Friday, March 14, 2014, from 10 am to 5 pm.

The symposium is free but places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment. The event includes a catered lunch.

Writing on Writing on Performance Writing

Categories:  performance, performance writing, writing, Writing Coastlines
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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)

The Broadside of a Yarn: A Situationist Strategy for Spinning Sea Stories Ashore

Categories:  conference, electronic literature, exhibition, launch, performance, Writing Coastlines
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Announcing The Broadside of a Yarn, a new hybrid print-digital-performance-writing work by J. R. Carpenter, commissioned by ELMCIP for Remediating the Social, launching at Inspace in Edinburgh 1 November 2012.

In theory, The Broadside of a Yarn is 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 naught but a QR code reader and an unbound atlas of hand-made maps of dubious accuracy. In practice, this project is, in a Situationist sense, a willfully absurd endeavour. How can I, a displaced native of rural Nova Scotia (New Scotland), perform the navigation of a narrative route through urban Edinburgh (Old Scotland)? How can any inhabitant of dry land possibly understand the constantly shifting perspective of stories of the high seas?

The Broadside of a Yarn

The Broadside of a Yarn remediates the broadside, a form of networked narrative popular from 16th century onward. Broadsides were written on a wide range of topical subjects, cheaply printed on single sheets of paper (often with images), widely distributed, and posted and performed in public. During the Remediating the Social exhibition (Inspace, Edinburgh, 1-25 November 2012), The Broadside of a Yarn will be posted as a grid of A3-sized square maps, and freely distributed as broadside-sized sheet (while supplies last).

Like the printed broadside ballads of old, the public posting of The Broadside of a Yarn signifies that it is intended to be performed. Embedded within the highly visual cartographic space of this printed map are QR codes which link mobile devices to a collection of separate yet interrelated web pages containing computer-generated narrative dialogues. They may propose imprecise and possibly impossible walking routes through the city. Or they may serve as scripts for poli-vocal performances.

The Broadside of a Yarn

The Broadside of a Yarn will be performed in four or possibly five voices (microphone availability depending) Thursday 1st November 20.00 in the Sculpture Court of Edinburgh College of Art. For more information, please see the Remediating the Social program.

A comprehensive overview of the Remediating the Social conference and exhibition has bee posted on Electronic Literature Authoring Software by Judy Malloy: ELMCIP Invites Scholars and Artists to Remediating the Social, Edinburgh, November 1-3, 2012

For more information – including a bibliography of the wide range of maps and literary works cited in The Broadside of a Yarn – and to view more images of the print maps to be installed at Inspace, please visit Luckysoap.com.

There he was, gone.

Categories:  electronic literature, publication
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Presenting: There he was, gone. A new computer-generated narrative dialogue published on Joyland Poetry. Many thanks to Joyland Poetry’s Europe editor angela rawlings, who solicited and encouraged this work, to Jerome Fletcher and Barbara Bridger, who provided much useful feedback during the creation process, and to all those who have lent their voices to poli-vocal performances of this work.

There he was, gone. has been performed by Barbara Bridger, David Prater, Christine Wilks and myself at Arnolfini, Bristol, UK during PW12 Performance Writing Weekend, in association with ELMCIP Seminar on Digital Textuality with/in Performance, 3-6 May 2012; and by Debra di Blasi, Jerome Fletcher, Judd Morrissey and myself at the Sorbonne, Paris, during &Now 2012: New Writing in Paris: Exchanges and Cross-Fertilizations, 6-10 June 2012.

There he was, gone.

How do we piece together a story like this one? A mystery. The title offers more questions than answers. There he was, gone. Where is there? Who is he? Where has he gone? How is this sentence even possible? There he was, not there. As if “he” is in two places and in no place, both at once. The once of “once upon a time.” This story has to do with time. This story has to do with place. That much is clear. We time to look around the story space. What do we see? A corner of a map. An abstraction of a place too detailed to place, unless the places it names are already familiar. Is this a local story then? For locals, between locals… if we do not know the answer to this question, then we are not local. We seem to have stumbled upon an ongoing conversation. Listen. A dialogue of sorts. It’s too late. An argument, even. One interlocutor instigates. Can’t you feel anything? The other obfuscates. It’s only the spring squalls over the bay. All that’s not said between these two hangs in a heavy mist, a sea fret low over a small fishing boat turned broadside to a pack of hump-backed slick black rocks. This story is fishing inshore. Close to home. Tell me then. Where was he found? A litany of place names follows. No answers. More questions. Wait. Listen. This story keeps shifting. Slow scrolling lines of poem roll in. set sail on home sick ship shape house wreck. What help is that to anyone? We arrive and we have only just finished leaving. What use is a poem? We sift through the fine print, searching for clues. GALE WARNING IN EFFECT, Funk Island Bank. Weather conditions for today’s date. Wind northwest 25 knots diminishing to west 15 this morning and to light this afternoon. Is the disappearance hinted at in the title a recent one? There he was, gone. Whoever he was, wherever he went, this story springs from his absence. J. R. Carpenter 2012

View There he was, gone.

Performing Digital Texts in European Contexts : A New Commentary Column on Jacket2

Categories:  electronic literature, web art, writing
Tags: , ,

Jacket2 Last night I started a new sustained writing project. For the next three months I will be a regular commentator for Jacket2, an online journal of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics associated with PennSound and the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

I will be posting under the still somewhat tentative header, Performing Digital Text in European Contexts. In this space I will endeavour to collect, recollect and comment on a wide variety of digital texts and contexts operating in the inter-zones where digital media, literature, visual art and performance practices meet. My first post further outlines the kinds of texts and contexts I’m thinking of. Although, or rather because, I already have certain writers, works, venues, events and organizations in mind, I actively seek suggestions on others. If you or someone you know is performing digital texts in European contexts, please let me know through the contact information on the Jacket2 page.

Other recent Jacket2 commentators have included Oana Avasilichioaei, writing on experimental Canadian poetics in Folding Borders: Experimenting in the Canadian Laboratory, Eric Baus, writing on lesser known gems from the PennSound archive in Notes on PennSound, and Charles Bernstein, writing on, you know, the myriad and many things Charles Bernstein. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to join this company.

More information about Jacket2.

Performing Digital Text in European Contexts

Along the Briny Beach

Categories:  electronic literature, festival, Generation(s), performance, poetry, publication
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My most recent piece of digital poetry, Along the Briny Beach, generates a coastline. The source code loads the following variables: Land Sea Write Erase Walk Liminal Space. The variable _Read_ is assumed to be client-side. The function _Writing and Erasing_ returns: Edges Ledges and Legible Lines caught in the Double-Bind of Writing and Erasing. Onload: Write Coast.

Along the Briny Beach appears in the new garden-theme issue of Boulder Pavement, an elegant multi-media journal published by The Banff Centre Press three times a year.

Along the briny beach a garden grows. With silver bells and cockleshells, cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh. A coral orchard puts forth raucous pink blossoms. A bouquet of sea anemones tosses in the shallows. A crop of cliffs hedges a sand-sown lawn mown twice daily by long green-thumbed waves rowing in rolling rows. The shifting terrain where land and water meet is always neither land nor water and is always both. The sea garden’s paths are fraught with comings and goings. Sea birds in ones and twos. Scissor-beak, Kingfisher, Parrot, and Scissor-tail. Changes in the Zoology. Causes of Extinction. From the ship the sea garden seems to glisten and drip with steam. Along a blue sea whose glitter is blurred by a creeping mist, the Walrus and the Carpenter are walking close at hand. A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk along the briny storied waiting in-between space. Wind blooms in the marram dunes. The tide far out, the ocean shrunken. On the bluff a shingled beach house sprouts, the colour of artichoke. On the horizon lines of tankers hang, like Chinese lanterns. Ocean currents collect crazy lawn ornaments. Shoes and shipwrecks, cabbages and kings. Water bottle caps and thick white snarls of string. At dawn an ancient tractor crawls along the briny beach, harvesting the tide’s leaves. The world’s plastic, the sea’s weeds.

Along the Briny Beach was performed in collaboration with Jerome Fletcher at E-Poetry [ 2011 ] : International Digital Language | Media | Arts Festival at SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, May 19, 2011.

The source code for the poetry generating component of Along the Briny Beach is based on Taroko Gorge, by Nick Montfort, other remixes of which appear in my recent book GENERATION[S].

Along the Briny Beach || Boulder Pavement 4

Whisper Wire: A Poetry Generator Transmitting and Receiving Electronic Voice Phenomena Through Haunted Media

Categories:  conference, electronic literature, Generation(s), performance
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Whisper Wire is a new poetry generator by J.R. Carpenter, a text transmitter, a code medium sending and receiving a steady stream of strange sounds, disembodied voices, ghost whispers, distant wails and other intercepted attempts to communicate over vast distances through copper wires, telegraph cables, transistor radios and other haunted media.

From the outset, telegraphy has been associated with otherworldly presences. If intelligence and consciousness could be transmitted independent of the body, surely the dead could speak to the living though electromagnetic means. This perception persisted nearly a century, even as telegraph and telephone networks girdled the globe with cables, signals, switches and stations.

null

December 14, 1901, three short sharp clicks skipped this grid. The Morse letter S travelled from Poldu, Cornwall — not troubled at at by the curvature of the Earth or the salt wet and wind of the Atlantic — to Saint-John’s, Newfoundland, where it was received by a telephonic headset held to the highly sensitive receiver of Guglielmo Marconi’s waiting ear.

Was the Morse letter S appended to Saint-John’s that day? Hoax rumours abound. Some suggest that what Marconi heard was actually a harmonic — a connection, yes, but not a transmission. Distance distorts. Distance distends. We hear what we need to. Wireless technology revealed a vast, unfathomable ocean of silence and static. Deep listening into that void can return uncanny results. Whisper Wire generates an unheimlich poem of un-homed messages, a spectrum of strange and unexplainable sounds, hunting the either for a listener, a receiver, a media to haunt.

The source code of Whisper Wire is itself possessed. Whisper Wire is a remix of Nick Montfort’s Taroko Gorge. Excerpts and source code of another of J.R. Carpenter’s remixes of Taroko Gorge, titled simply GORGE, appear in her new hybrid code narrative book GENERATION[S], published by TRAUMAWIEN.

Whisper Wire will be performed in Edinburgh on Halloween night at Inspace… no one can hear you scream, an evening of language in digital performance presented by the third International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling and New Media Scotland.

Whisper Wire will become a live wire during this 20 minute hybrid performance. Performance writers J.R. Carpenter and Jerome Fletcher will mix generated text, javascript, found sounds and live readings from the works of decadent authors, Medlar Lucan & Durian Gray and others.

“As we stand on the clifftop at Poldhu, watching the wind which roars in off the Atlantic whipping spindrift off the tops of the waves, we are filled with an overwhelming sense of horror. Between here and New York nothing but grotesque tonnages of uncooked haddock swim. Nowhere is Nature present in such profusion, and we have chosen to expose ourselves to it for the next three days!

At this spot a century ago, Guglielmo Marconi set up a circle of masts by which he would transmit the first radio signals beyond the curve of the earth. We too are here to communicate. Not with the Living, however, but with the Dead.”

Medlar Lucan & Durian Gray with Paul Renner, The Hell Fire Touring Club, Oxford: Pharsalia, 2004, page 21.

48 hours | Inspace… no one can hear you scream.
Sunday 31st October 2010, 7.30 for 8pm.
Inspace, 1 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB

Inspace

Inspace… no one can hear you scream: an evening of language in digital performance

Categories:  conference, electronic literature, Generation(s), performance
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Sunday 31st October 2010, 7.30 pm, the third International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling and New Media Scotland will present an evening of language in digital performance with works by Martin John Callanan, J.R. Carpenter, Jerome Fletcher, Donna Leishman, Maria Mencia, Netwurker Mez, Stanza and Christine Wilks. The performance event will be held on Halloween. There will be a haunted theme.

48 hours | Inspace… no one can hear you scream.

Sunday 31st October 2010, 7.30 for 8pm.

Inspace, 1 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB

ICIDS Conference Program

Inspace