I have spent a lifetime attempting to engage with the world through writing, music, digital art, photography, and aimless daydreaming. Many if not most of those attempts are accessible through this Website. Of course my most brilliant, soul-rending, earth-shattering work is still locked away in the dark recesses of my brain somewhere, awaiting the light of day. Or so I hope.

Faith: Kinetically interwoven arguments from the faith/logic smackdown. With music.
Soothcircuit: Poetic flights of prognostication.
Clues: An interactive metaphysical whodunit.
Feed: A news feed from the uncharted territories of the mind.

Photo of Robert KendallRobert Kendall has been creating interactive multimedia poetry since 1990, making him one of the earliest practitioners of the form. He is the author of a book-length hypertext poem, A Life Set for Two (Eastgate Systems, 1996). His hypertext poetry has also appeared on disk in The Little Magazine and Version Box. It has appeared on the Web at Iowa Review Web, BBC  Online, Eastgate Hypertext Reading Room,Cauldron & Net, and Cortland Review. A Wandering City (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1992), his printed book of poems, won the CSU Poetry Center Prize. Kendall's printed poetry has appeared widely in magazines (including Rattapallax,Contact II, River Styx, New York Quarterly, Barrow Street, and Indiana Review), and several anthologies have included his work. He has received a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship for literature and a New Forms Regional Grant Program Award.

Kendall has read his poetry at numerous locations in many states and in Europe, as well as on Manhattan Cable TV and nationally syndicated public radio. His electronic poetry has been exhibited at many sites in the USA (including the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia and the Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo, New Jersey), as well as in England, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia, the Philippines, and Brazil. A videotape version of the work was shown at the Second Annual Poetry Video Festival in Chicago and on Manhattan Cable TV. Kendall curated an exhibit of digital and interactive artwork for the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, which included his own work.

Kendall lectures frequently about interactive literature and electronic publishing and has given talks at many conferences and festivals, including conferences of the ACM and AWP. Since 1995 he has taught hypertext poetry and fiction through the online program of the New School University in New York. Over 100 of his articles and essays about computer technology and computers in the arts have appeared in publications ranging from PC Magazine, PC Computing, and Electronic Musician to Poets & Writers Magazine, Leonardo, Electronic Book Review, Cortland Review, Kairos, and Without Covers (a collection of essays from Purdue University Press). His papers have appeared in the proceedings of two ACM Hypertext conferences, one Digital Arts and Culture conference, and two Small Computers in the Arts symposiums. He was formerly the hypertext literature editor of the SIGWEB Newsletter (published by the Association for Computing Machinery), for which he wrote a regular column. His Web site Word Circuits publishes hypertext literature and offers a host of literary resources.

He is on the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization and is the founder and original director of the Organization's Electronic Literature Directory. He is codeveloper of Connection Muse, an adaptive hypertext authoring system for Web poetry and fiction. His papers are archived by Duke University.

Kendall was born and raised in Canada. He earned an MA from New York University, sojourned in New Jersey and San Francisco, and now lives in Boston.

Contact him at kendall@wordcircuits.com.

Wikipedia Entry

Electronic Poetry and Fiction

  • Feed (2008)

    Our deeply ingrained need to trust language enables Feed to generate an endless simulacrum of social commentary cum mythopoeic narrative spontaneously from largely random associations of charged words. With each click of the Continue button, it presents cultural observation through the blind eye of chance. The blank passing moment becomes the creator of mythos. It allows us the opportunity to turn ambiguity into poetry, absurdity into satire, unexpected fortuitous alignments into insight. Feed chronicles the mechanisms of the chronicle rather than its subjects. It removes “realism” from the equation, flirting with the meaningless and parading arbitrary associations before the reader under the banners of archetype and metaphor. Feed historicizes, editorializes, moralizes, sings, dances, and wears funny hats, all in the name of “analyzing” its own inventions.

  • Pieces (2008)

    Pieces is a puzzle story. To read the work, you assemble the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, each piece yielding a portion of narrative. Under your hands, several lives take shape in earnest if sometimes wobbly and unprepossessing assemblages. The manner in which you put the pieces together affects the course of the characters’ lives, different configurations resulting in different outcomes.

  • Logozoa (2006–2009)

    Logozoa.com is a home for textual organisms in the form of aphorisms, anti-aphorisms, maxims, minims, neokoans, sayings, left-unsaids, proverbialisms, poemlets, microtales, instant fables, and other varieties of conceptual riffs. They can be adopted as downloaded printable stickers or viewed as photos in a natural-habitat zoo.

  • Soothcircuit (2005)

    Soothcircuit presents constellations of Logozoa (see above) in the guise of oracular prognostication.

  • This animated poetry video confronts the fear of growing older but not necessarily wiser. Flash setting by Michele D'Auria. Narration by the author. (Requires Flash)

  • In the Garden of Recounting lets you tend and nurture memories that grow into a story. You are presented with a garden to explore, and as you move your mouse over the vegetation, lines of text sprout from it. Throughout this process, you can also “water” the garden with commentary that drips down from an overhanging cloud when you mouse over a set of keywords. The work metaphorically represents the process of coaxing fragmentary images out of memory in order to piece together an account of the past. It also demonstrates the way that memories change organically over time and how they can mutate in order to meet the needs of the story one wants to tell about oneself. This digital garden compels you to recognize that the acts of recalling and recounting are dependent not upon a fixed body of data but upon continually growing and changing organic structures within the brain. (Requires Flash)

  • Faith (Originally published in Cauldron & Net, 2002)

    Faith is a kinetic poem that reveals itself in five successive states. Each new state is overlaid onto the previous one, incorporating the old text into the new. Each new state absorbs the previous one while at the same time engaging in an argument with it. The gradual textual unfolding is choreographed to music.

    (Requires Flash)

  • Clues (2001–2005)

    Clues explores the nature of communication, knowledge, and identity through the language and postures of mystery fiction. It's a metaphysical whodunit that invites you to solve the mystery by uncovering clues linked to images throughout the work. The search becomes a game that leads you down wooded trails, back alleys, and empty hallways. Which characters should you pursue? Which objects should you investigate? To win the game, you must separate all the clues from the red herrings. Your final score determines the outcome of the text. But is the mystery really soluble? Is winning actually better than losing? Are the answers or the questions more revealing?

  • Penetration (2000) and Dispossession (1999)
    Penetration explores change. The immigrant’s experience of changing homelands, the seasonal changes within those lands themselves, and evolving states of mind are counterpointed against one another and against the shifting hypertextual structure of the poetry. The poem focuses on two immigrants from Eastern Europe, a father and daughter, who are seeing each other again for the first time in many years. The natural world around them becomes a third character, the Mothering Earth. The hypertext unfolds organically from the reader’s choices, with each different reading emphasizing different aspects of the relationship. Many pages in the work contain variable text, which changes whenever the reader rereads that page. The changeability of the text reflects the constant flux of the relationships explored in the poem. Dispossession follows a man who is leaving his Caribbean homeland for America. The uncertainty of the future is represented by the changeable structure, which places recurring images in contrasting contexts.

  • A Study in Shades (Cortland Review, 2000; also available on BBC Online)

    A Study in Shades explores the devastation of Alzheimer’s Disease from the points of view of a man afflicted by it and his daughter. The reader interacts with the poem to experience the different perspectives of the two characters and their relationship to each other. An interplay between text and morphing graphics reflects the progress of this relationship.

  • A Study in Conveyance delves into the pleasures and dangers of letting yourself go.

  • In Frame Work, the interplay among texts in different frames of the browser explores the way the mind refocuses among modes of perception. The focus shifts from images inside a room to those outside a window.

  • A Life Set for Two (Eastgate Systems, 1996)

    A book-length hypertext poem that no longer runs on modern computers.

  • SoftPoems (1990-91)

    Kinetic visual poetry for DOS. These are among the earliest poems of this type ever written, but they no longer run on modern computers.

Visual Poetry

  • Sostenuto for Strings
    Concerto for Perfection
    Kinderscenen
    Sonata for Unaccompanied Being
    Impromptu on the Incomplete

    A series of 5 visual poems based on music imagery.

Linear Poetry

  • Poems published in various online magazines.

  • Excerpts from the printed collection (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1992), winner of the CSU Poetry Center Prize

About the Electronic Arts

HTLit Column

This column on hypertext literature appears regularly in print in the SIGWEB Newsletter (formerly SIGLINK Newsletter) and online at Word Circuits.

About Literature

Interviews

My numerous photos ranging in subject matter from Beijing and Paris to Occupy Boston are available on my Flickr Page. I specialize in High Dynamic Range photography, which preserves color and detail that is lost in conventional photographic processes.