July 30, 2008
Rilke turned to writing poems in French because there was no good word for “absence” in German. J. R. Carpenter’s in absentia presents place and the lack of place in English and French, mashing up a Google map (or, actually, a satellite view) of Montréal with rental and real estate annotations by herself and others. (The standard schmear of mash-up gaudiness is not present here, I should note.) “The guy upstairs cross-dresses; his unsteady stiletto gait traipses heavily over my head. The girl next door turns tricks, for cash or beer or kicks I couldn’t say; five in the morning, five in the afternoon, her headboard bucks at the wall behind mine.” Even those interested in video games will find something to pursue in these locational texts, as Ubisoft’s involvement with the local community is one of the subjects of discussion.
It’s a writing project on the Web. “in absentia est un projet d’écriture sur le Web. Nouvelles oeuvres de fiction signées J. R. Carpenter avec auteurs invités: Lance Blomgren, Andy Brown, Daniel Canty, Alexis O’Hara, Colette Tougas.” Those are the invited authors. “Présenté par DARE-DARE Centre de diffusion d’art multidisciplinaire de Montréal.” Enjoy.