Guest Curated Exhibition

Tributaries & Text-Fed Streams

A Feed-Reading of The Capilano Review by J.R. Carpenter

June 2008

Supported by The Capilano Review

In February 2007, Vancouver-based literary quarterly The Capilano Review published an issue dedicated to new writing and new technologies guest-edited by Andrew Klobucar and including essays by Andrew Klobucar, Global Telelanguage Resources, Sandra Seekins, Kate Armstrong, David Jhave Johnston, Laura U. Marks, Sharla Sava, Kevin Magee, Jim Andrews, Gordon Winiemko, Nancy Paterson and Darren Wershler-Henry. Tributaries & Text-fed Streams: A Feed-Reading of The Capilano Review is a new artwork commissioned by The Capilano Review and curated by Kate Armstrong in which Montreal-based writer and artist J.R. Carpenter undertakes an experimental rereading of and response to this text.


What are the creative and poetic possibilities of RSS syndication and how might the introduction of omnipresent, iterative publishing processes affect our experience of digital literature? How can a book be transformed and reworked through an exploration of the formal and aesthetic structure of the stream?

Tributaries & Text-Fed Streams is a project by J.R. Carpenter in which Carpenter approaches the text of an issue of literary quarterly The Capilano Review (TCR) as a raw material in the creation of a new artwork. Carpenter draws on a range of strategies and traditions including literary criticism, illustration, blogging, coding, writing, and digital intervention, using these to articulate an experimental space that equates and associates water with text.

The work is an eddy within the internet, a place where information – commentary, image, text, metadata – coalesce for a moment, before flowing back out into and through other channels. The written word mixes and dissolves, never static, not quite discrete. Related imagery circulates within and without the confines of the artwork, raising questions of boundary. We navigate within this work as we would through wild, quiet rivers. Reading is wayfinding. We pass through texts and text fragments, through citations, links, footnotes, self-author, other-author, patches of whimsy.

Social media meets scholarly tracemaking. Categories become headwaters: comments, islands. It is a “text-fed stream”, moving with undercurrents and process. The work extends our experience of the nature of the digital stream and invites new questions about material, temporality, repetition, and the archive in connection with the electronic word. – Kate Armstrong, Curator