Jonathan David Rivera Sebastian
English 3300 – 050
May 11, 2012
J.R. Carpenter is a Canadian artist and writer. She writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and Non-linear hypermedia narratives. She has published many books and is a map maker, in other words, a cartographer. Now lets not delay anymore and go right to the point. Focusing on her electronic literature work, Carpenter specializes in Non-linear hypermedia narratives as mentioned before. She likes to use French phrase in her works, which is not surprising since many Canadians speak French. She also integrates maps into her works and of course, it’s hypermedia, so she loves to accompany images and text together.
Now, lets break it down slowly. While looking at her works, we’ll define what non-linear hypermedia narratives are and how do they work (or at least how J.R. Carpenter uses them). It is a fairly simple concept that mixes everything into one awesome thing. You already know what a narrative is, lets not delay too much with that.
What is Non-linear? Non-linear means that the narrative or story doesn’t follow a specific path; for example, if I write a story in links and make a menu at the top of the page that leads to those links, the reader will be able to jump from link to link without order. That’s essentially what Non-linear is; no direct path. For this concept we can see Carpenter’s “A sleep I fell”. This
collection of quotes and stories follows a non-linear path. At the top of the page, it has four phrases that serve as links for different short stories and quotes. These short stories and quotes each have their own link. Now, we must notice they are not numbered and their stories don’t follow a specific pattern so they can be considered non-linear. Of course, when the content of such links is analyzed objectively and with care, narrative ties can be made. As the tittle suggests, “A sleep I fell’s” texts are related to the concept of sleeping. Some play with the word falling and explore its meanings others simply describe the experience of sleeping.
Moving on, let’s talk about hypermedia. It is a hypertext system that links graphics, audio and video elements. Lets say you have a hypertext narrative and you add sound, video and pictures or moving graphics to it. There, you have a hypermedia narrative, just shuffle the links in the interface and it can be considered as non-linear as well. A great example of this concept is Carpenter’s Entre Ville. Entre Ville’s interface is composed of many different pictures and an image of a note book with a drawn building on it. The windows serve as interactive links, which lead to videos and other media. One of them even leads to a text pad where you can type anything and even get a reply if you leave your email. It is easy to make the connection to hypermedia once you experience the diverse resources it uses to express its narrative.
Also, we can’t forget to explore her use of maps and French in her work. It is important to examine this because those two things are a constant in many of her works. Of course, it is probably very important for her to often mix these things in when she can, since she is Canadian and works as a cartographer. We can use Carpenter’s “Les huit quartiers du sommeil”. In case you don’t know French, it translates to “The eight neighborhoods of sleep”. The interface is, you
guessed it (or not); a map and not just any map. It uses the all popular Google maps as the interface. A very clever choice of interface as it is simple and easy for integrating a narrative that aims to describe hotels or sleeping quarters of the city. Some text are decorated with French words, not only to be expected from Carpenter, but also to be expected when talking about places in Montreal a city in Quebec and if you’re still lost, Quebec is in Canada.
Lastly, we can conclude that Carpenter meets all criteria for being considered a non-linear hypermedia narrative writer. We can also notice how she loves to mix in her work as cartographer and her French language in her hypermedia works. Of course, we only examined the tip of the iceberg. She has written in many other mediums and has won a few awards for them. Also her works have been presented in many places like the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and Images Festival in Toronto, the Helen Pitt Gallery in Vancouver, the Rhizome Art Base at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and many more.
I have to say, I enjoyed some of her works, especially the one called “A sleep I fell”. The quotes are very diverse. It’s nice to see how others represent and describe sleeping in their own words. Not just that, but it’s nice to see it in her words too.
“J. R. Carpenter.” Luckysoap.com. Web. 11 may 2012.
Carpenter, J. R. “A sleep I fell.” Luckysoap.com/webprojects.html. Luckysoap & Co. 2000. Web. 11 may 2012.
Carpenter, J. R. “Entre Ville.” Luckysoap.com/webprojects.html. OBORO, Laboratoire nouveaux medias. 2006. Web. 11 may 2012.
Carpenter, J. R. “Les huit quartiers du sommeil.” Luckysoap.com/webprojects.html. Luckysoap & Co. 2007. Web. 11 may 2012.