Judy Malloy, Editor

J.R. Carpenter:

Software: Photoshop 7.0, DHTML, HomeSite, JavaScript.

detail from J.R. Carpenter's STRUTS, a rhythmic algorithmic computationally 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, a DHTML script, ("Ultimate Fade-in slideshow (v2.4)") HomeSite, and found JavaScripts.

More information about J. R. Carpenter can be found on her homepage at http://luckysoap.com

J. R. Carpenter: STRUTS

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 DynamicDrive website: 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 is run by JavaScript which I found on-line somewhere. I cannot remember where. 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 tide gauge data is animated via a JavaScript which I found on-line and altered. 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.

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