Day 3: J.R. Carpenter Musings And by Islands…

This experience is mapped on a larger scale. It is difficult at first to orient yourself and I think that is Carpenter’s purpose. She wants you to look around and be curious. Curious like a tourist, who travels and investigates things that are seemingly innocuous and boring in their own world, but “foreign” and unique in a new environment. I believe Carpenter is playing with the potential of digital space and how it can both hinder and elevate the experience. Hinder, because it can be frustrating to move from left to right without knowing where the next passage is, or where to go first. Yet, this speaks to the possibility of outcomes available each time you click on an island and a passage morphs. By having little direction and forced freedom, the way each person experiences Carpenter’s work will be different. We each create a different session text depending on our moves, our patience, and our concept of rules. What does this do to the actual words she produces?

For example, traveling to DESERT ISLANDS, the screenshot you see below was my initial screen.jrcarp1

Doing a critical reading of a section like this provides a clear view into what Carpenter is doing. For example, when I clicked on the island again, some of the paragraph shifted. The first sentence remained the same (as did the last) but instead of “Continental islands born of fracture” they “survive the absorption of what once contained them” and later still “are born of disarticulation.” Carpenter writes that the different islands or elements are “mother and father” while they still “display a repulsion for one another.” She creates depth within a shallow idea of conception. The world seems to be a binary here, opposed forces that both recognize the loss and inability to reconnect.

While we can relate to mother-father, on a more global level Carptenter is speaking of the disconnected spaces that exist between neighborhoods, towns, cities, states, regions, and countries. These lines and walls we’ve put up are also a type of disarticulation. Yet, Carpenter also writes that literature is not only a “creative aspect” but “the attempt to interpret myths at the moment we no longer understand them” while later it “develops the failure and death of mythology.”

While on the one hand this is a coding variable technique Carpenter is using, the results are purposeful and meaningful. Once she establishes these two elements (continental and oceanic islands) exist like mother and father yet contain repulsion for each other, they are also “in constant strife” and we can reflect on multiple levels. Due to the spread out information, the interactor can interpret her work in many ways. Maybe it is a political discussion of borders? Maybe it is a discussion of how we too create borders around our literatures–place them in categories and prevent other voices from being heard. Perhaps, stretching it further, literature itself is too restrictive within the separations of genre, and she uses this interactive, hybrid space to display the multifaceted of literature that is boundless and fractured.

1 thought on “Day 3: J.R. Carpenter Musings And by Islands…

  1. Explorer more than tourist is what she is aiming at I think, but yes the navigation of cyberspace as the new frontier of exploration. Perhaps not only about how disorienting the web can be and is, but also how we are trained as navigator’s (the original web browser for those who remember that far back) to scroll from left to right and from the top down. To what extent are these and other forms of navigating (alphabetically, by most recent date of submission, by match of terms of a search according to Boolean logic parameters, etc.) preventing us from accomplishing what the net was originally envisioned for: a potentially infinite space of curiosity and discovery of the unknown?!

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