Judy Malloy, Editor
detail from J.R. Carpenter's
STRUTS, a rhythmic
composed text collage
J. R. Carpenter is a Canadian artist, performer, poet, novelist, new media writer and researcher
based in South Devon, England. She began using the Internet as a medium for the creation and
dissemination of non-linear narratives in 1993.
Since that time, her work has been presented in
journals, festivals, and museums around the world, including the
Electronic Literature Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art;
Montréal Museum of Fine Arts; Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum; The Art Gallery, Tasmania;
The University of Maryland; Jyväskylä Art Museum, Finland;
Kipp Gallery, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; E-Poetry, Barcelona, Spain;
the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, England; and The Banff Centre, Canada.
She is a two-time winner of the Quebec Short Story competition, recipient of the Carte
Blanche Quebec Award, and recipient of research and production grants in literature and in
new media from the Conseil des Arts de Montréal, Conseil des arts et des lettres du
Quebéc and Canada Council for the Arts.
Her first novel, Words the Dog Knows, won the Expozine Alternative Press Award for Best
English Book. Her second book, GENERATION[S], a collection of code narratives, was published
by Traumawien in Vienna in 2010.
J. R. Carpenter is currently a member of faculty for In(ter)ventions: Literary
Practice at the Edge, a ground-breaking new residency program at The Banff Centre, in Canada, and
she is a practice-led PhD Researcher, working in the emerging and converging fields of
performance writing, digital literature, locative narrative, media archaeology and networked art practices
at University College Falmouth, in England.
In STRUTS, the work she writes about in this statement,
words in different locations flow across the screen like incoming and receding coastal
tides, while the whole is anchored by a series of photographs of the struts that support a seawall
which protects against storm tides in the Northumberland Strait. Thus, the work is a dynamic
narrative collage that -- using words, information, and photographs -- evocatively conveys
an artist/writer's experience of living in coastal communities in the Canadian Maritime provinces.
STRUTS was created during an Open Studio Artist
in Residency at Struts Gallery and Faucet Media Lab in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.
It was commissioned by Brian Kim Stefans for "Third Hand Plays",
a project of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Open Space blog. The finished work
launched on Open Space on September 15, 2011.
The tools used to create STRUTS included a Canon G11 camera, Photoshop 7.0,
More information about J. R. Carpenter can be found on her homepage at
J. R. Carpenter:
STRUTS is a rhythmic algorithmic computationally composed text collage created
from a collection of fragments of facts and fictions pertaining to the Tantramar region of
New Brunswick. (Canada)
A narrative of a place, its people, its history, its geography and its storm events resonates
in the spaces between the texts horizontally scrolling across the screen:
the flickering updating of monthly tide gauge averages,
the intermittent appearance of live weather warnings pulled in by RSS feed,
and the series of photographs forever fading into one another in an animated
slide show loop.
The photographs which form the central image of STRUTS are of the ends of the
struts that support the seawall that protects the foreshore in front of local
area media and
performance artist Linda Rae Dornan's cottage from the rising
tides of the Northumberland Strait. These photographs
were taken with a Canon G11 without a tripod in natural light, mid-afternoon
May 23, 2011, on the second day of a five-week stint as Open Studio Artist
in Residence at
Struts Gallery and Faucet Media Lab, Sackville, New Brunswick,
Canada, May-June 2011.
The photographs were resized to 600 x 450 pixels in Photoshop 7.0. Some were cropped slightly,
but otherwise they were not altered. They appear in the slide-show in the order
they were taken, which corresponds to a south to north progression along the seawall.
The image slideshow is run by a variant on a DHTML script called
"Ultimate Fade-in slideshow (v2.4)"found on the
The texts which
appear "onmouseover" over the bottom of the images in the slideshow are riffs
and variations on dictionary definitions of the words: "strut," "spur," and "seawall."
All the coding for STRUTS was done in HomeSite. The horizontally scrolling text
Each horizontally scrolling text responds to various mouse actions, stopping, speeding up
or reversing at customizable increments defined in the source code. I used this same script
in an earlier piece called
Along the Briny Beach , which I presented at E-Poetry
at SUNY Buffalo in May 2011, just before the Open Studio residency at Struts Gallery.
The horizontally scrolling texts in STRUTS are a mixture of original
and "found" texts, researched at the Mount Alison University Library
in New Brunswick, The British Library in London, and various on-line sources
including the Canadian Department of Fisheries website and dictionary.com.
The text in blue at top left is adapted from an old geology text book about Nova Scotia
which is where I grew up. This business about no part of Nova Scotia being more
than 50 kilometres from the sea is something every kid in Nova Scotia knows from a very early age.
I remember it being 17 miles, but whatever.
The Text in brown just below the blue text
is a sort of story I wrote by confounding all the different dictionary definitions of "bay."
The tide gauge data to the top right of the slide show represents the monthly tide gauge
averages for Shediac Bay from the month I was born to the month I moved from Canada to England.
The gauge that measured these averages was destroyed in the same storm surge that
damaged Linda Rae Dornan's seawall the night of December 21, 2010.
The data itself was provided to me by Sackville resident and cartographer Maggie Pitts,
who also pointed me in the direction of the Saxby Gale.
The long grey text below the slide show
is an edited mixture of historical accounts, taken from Wikipedia and a number of other
on-line sources, of the Saxby gale of 1869, the storm all possible North American
eastern seaboard storms are compared to. The Tantramar Marsh text in darker grey
just above the Saxby Gale text is a reworking of an excerpt of "Writing Coastlines:
The Operation of Estuaries, Islands and Beaches as Liminal Spaces in the Writings
of Elizabeth Bishop", a conference paper written in residence at Struts Gallery
and presented at It Must Be Nova Scotia: Negotiating Place in the Writings of
Elizabeth Bishop which took place at University of King's College, Halifax,
Nova Scotia, Canada, June 10-12, 2011.
The red text about the Northumberland
Strait which appears on the right-hand side of the slide show is a mixture of
on-line texts edited together to conflate the geological, historical and toponymic
aspects of the reddish waters in the strait, the red lobsters, and the name the early
French settlers gave - "la mer rouge", The Red Sea.
The only bit of live data I'm culling
from the web is the marine weather forecast for the Northumberland Strait, which appears
in the lower left corner after about 85 seconds. I figure, if there's anything anybody
(especially anybody in the Maritimes) needs to know in real time it's a storm warning.
The STRUTS text in all caps that replaces the weather feed riffs on the dictionary
definitions of the word "struts" and the mandate of Struts Gallery. The text that
replaces that is perhaps the most informative of the whole piece - it
is a rewriting of the first-hand account offered to me via email by Linda Rae Dorian, of
the storm surge which damaged the seawall in front of her cottage, the seawall which
the struts in these photographs support.
Writers and Artists
Talk about Their Work
and the Software They
use to Create Their Work
__Interview wirh Mark Bernstein
J. R. Carpenter
The Broadside of a Yarn
Chronicles of Pookie and JR
Egypt: The Book of
Going Forth by Day
Mark C. Marino
__Nick Montfort and
Sea and Spar Between
__Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland
Sea and Spar Between