Northern Venetians

Creative Work
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Northern Venetians is an experiment in collaborative electronic literature. When viewing the website, it is best to use Internet Explorer or Firefox (on other browsers there can be a slight distortion of the moving text on the homepage).

In his Magnetic North, Jonathan Meades asks of Hansastadt Stralsund in Germany: “Is this the Venice of the North?” He then lists several other places which have also been known as the Venice of the North, including the Maryhill area of Glasgow. A native of that district, I was amused by this comparison, as Maryhill and Venice are not regularly mentioned in the same breath. Anyway, I got to thinking about the other places mentioned and that not only should they have something in common with Venice, Italy, but also with each other. Using short texts by writers and artists who have been inhabitants of a "Venice of the North", Northern Venetians seeks to depict the composite city of Northern Venice. All of the stories are based on personal experience and, hopefully, taken together they give us a sense of that city. Starting with a few contacts, I developed extended emails chains and at the end of this process I had my participants and their stories. The work is of open duration and new texts will be added if and when they arrive: if you know of any artists or writers who are Northern Venetians, please contact me at

The home page shows some illustrative quotations, and lists the Northern Venetians and the composite city’s districts. The main page sets out the texts as a series of animated lines which can be moved back and forth. These texts can also be accessed as individual pages arranged in a traditional format. I constructed the website with the help of Scott Porter of Digital Engine. The site’s animation borrows shamelessly from J.R. Carpenter’s Along The Briny Beach, particularly in our lifting of sections of programming from that work.

When the work first went online (October, 2013) the Northern Venetians were: Richard Barrett, Kristian Byskov, Charlotte Desvages [tr.], Nikolai Duffy, Frédéric Forte, Sarah Hayden [tr.], Gill James, Tom Jenks, Madis Kari, John Kearns, Mirja Koponen, Olga Kortz, Keith McKay, Aleksandra Maciejewska, Peter Manson, Anna Olkowska, David O'Meara, Paulina, Dorota Prądzyńska, Kim Sandra Rask, Sandra Ridley, Gerry Smith, Magdalena Szulc, Patryk Włazik, Barbara Wronkowska and Minna Rombo Zetterlund.

(Source: Original text supplied by author.)

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Gerald Smith