“Whisper Wire” by J.R. Carpenter

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Open: “Whisper Wire” by J.R. Carpenter

This generative poem focuses on the dynamics of electronic communication, primarily analog wired and wireless technologies, such as telegraph, radio, and cassette tapes. There is abundant noise in these types of communication— static, crossed transmissions, echoes, and ghost signals— and for effective transmission to occur, both sender and receiver need to be proficient listeners. This is an apt metaphor for this poem, in which one can perceive there is a different signal to noise ratio from what we expect in print texts. In other words, some of the lines may not make sense, but others are crystal clear. Which lines are the carriers of Carpenter’s message?

One could contend that all the lines are intended because they are the result of signals sent through your computer’s software and hardware to produce what scrolls before you on the screen. What is the original message? The source code, which is a remix of Nick Montfort’s “Taroko Gorge” using modified variables (the first of the remixes to do so) and meticulously chosen data sets designed and tested to produce output that satisfies Carpenter’s vision for the poem. I recommend exploring the source code (right-click-> view source) to discover some of the raw materials she has assembled for this experience.

Then explore some of her other poems that use this code by following this link. J. R. Carpenter stands apart as the poet who has written the most works based on this code, making it respond to her own particular poetics.

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