J. R. Carpenter is a Canadian artist, writer, researcher, performer and maker of maps, zines, books, poems, fiction, non-fiction, non-linear hypermedia narratives, and computer-generated texts. She was born in Nova Scotia in 1972, and lived in Montreal from 1990 to 2009. She now lives in South Devon, England. She studied Life Drawing and Anatomy at the Art Students League of New York in 1988 and Fibres and Sculpture at Concordia University in Montreal 1990–1995. She served on the Board of Directors of OBORO, an artist-run gallery and new media lab in Montreal, from 2006 to 2011. She served as a faculty mentor for Performance Writing and Electronic literature on the In (ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge program at The Banff Centre from 2010–2014.
She has written extensively about textile art, media art, digital literature and internet history. Her print essays, art reviews, poetry and short fiction have been broadcast on CBC Radio, translated into French, Italian, and Spanish, and published in numerous anthologies and journals across Canada, the US, the UK, Spain and Italy, including Oxford Poetry, 3:AM Magazine, Arc Poetry Magazine, Fuse, The New Quarterly and Geist.
She has been writing electronic texts since 1993. She made her first web-based work for Netscape 1.1. in 1995. Since that time her pioneering works of Electronic literature have been published, performed, and presented in festivals, galleries and museums around the world, including: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Dare-Dare, OBORO and StudioXX in Montreal; Images Festival and Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto; Arnolfini in Bristol; Palazzo delle arti Napoli in Naples; Machfeld Studio in Vienna; The Web Biennial in Istanbul; Open Space, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco; and Bibliothèque nationale de France and Le Cube in Paris. Her digital work is also included in The Rhizome ArtBase, the Electronic Literature Collection Volumes One and Volume Two, and the ELMCIP Anthology of European Electronic Literature. Her web-based work CityFish was shortlisted for the New Media Writing Prize in 2012. A retrospective of her web-based work was presented at Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints an exhibition held in conjunction with the Electronic Literature Organization Conference 2012 in Morgantown, West Virginia.
She won the CBC Quebec Short Story Competition (now known as the Quebec Writing Competition) in 2003 for her short story "Precipice", which was later anthologized in Short Stuff: New English Writing From Quebec and again in 2005 for her short story "Air Holes", which was later anthologized in In Other Words: New English Writing From Quebec. She won the Quebec Writers' Federation Carte Blanche Award in 2008 for "Wyoming is Haunted", a work of creative nonfiction. She won the Expozine Alternative Press Award for Best English Book for her first novel, Words the Dog Knows, which was published by Conundrum Press in Montreal in 2008. She was named a Montreal Mirror Noisemaker in 2009. Her second book, GENERATION[S], a collection of code narratives, was published by Traumawien in 2010.
In 2015 she won the Dot Award for Digital Literature awarded by if:book UK. In 2016 she won the New Media Writing Prize for her web-based work The Gathering Cloud, which was commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival 2016, Dundee, UK. The Gathering Cloud was an Editor's Pick in the Wildcard Category in the Saboteur Awards 2017. In May 2017 a print book based on The Gathering Cloud was published by Uniformbooks, featuring a foreword by Jussi Parikka and an afterword by Lisa Robertson.
23 March 2015 she was awarded a practice-led PhD research degree from University of the Arts London in association with Falmouth University. Her thesis, Writing Coastlines: Locating Narrative Resonance in Transatlantic Communications Networks "contributed to the creation of a new narrative context from which to examine a multi-site-specific place-based identity by extending the performance writing methodology to incorporate digital literature and locative narrative practices, by producing and publicly presenting a significant body of creative and critical work, and by developing a mode of critical writing which intertwines practice with theory." She was a 2015 Visiting Fellow at the Eccles Centre for North American Studies at the British Library, London, UK.
Words the Dog Knows (Montreal: Conundrum 2008)
GENERATION(S) (Vienna: Traumawien 2010)
The Gathering Cloud (Uniformbooks 2017)
Fishes & Flying Things (1995)
Mythologies of Landforms and Little Girls (1996)
(a grammar of signs has replaced a botany of symptoms) (1998)
How I Loved the Broken Things of Rome (2005)
The Cape (2005)
Entre Ville (2006)
in absentia (2008)
Along the Briny Beach (2011)
TRANS.MISSION [A.DIALOGUE] (2011)
Notes on the Voyage of Owl and Girl (2012)
There he was, gone. (2012)
...and by islands I mean paragraphs (2013)
Etheric Ocean (2014)
Notes Very Necessary co-authored with Barbara Bridger (2015)
The Gathering Cloud (2016)