… and by islands I mean paragraphs is a fascinating hybrid digital writing / art project by J. R. Carpenter, which relocates and re-explores literary, fantasy and real islands. It is currently on display in the Chercher le texte exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
The project casts the visitor adrift on a digital ocean which extends in all directions, far beyond the horizon of the browser window. By navigating (with mouse, track pad, or arrow keys) the reader becomes a digital sailor, traversing a white sea dotted with islands that exist only as paragraphs.
Computer-generated compositions of textual fragments are harvested from a large 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Foe, Ballard's Concrete Island, Hakluyt's Voyages and Discoveries, along with lesser-known sources, including an out-of-date guidebook to the Scottish islands and an amalgam of accounts of the classical and possibly mythical island of Thule.
Individually, each of these textual islands is 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 islands. In this constantly shifting sea of variable texts one never finds the same islands twice ... and by islands, I do mean paragraphs.
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J.R Carptenter is an artist, writer, researcher, performer, and maker of maps, zines, books, poems, fiction, non-fiction, and non-linear, hypermedia, and computer-generated narratives. She has been using the internet as a medium for the creation and dissemination of experimental texts since 1993. Her digital work has been presented at museums, galleries, conferences and festivals around the world. For more information visit her website.
Twitter: @jr_carpenter / Facebook: jrcarpen / Blog: Lapsus Linguae