The Bean Project revisited after 15 years

The Bean Project 2002 – archived here:

There is something very wonderful about a friend finding my first-ever web based text project 15 years after I made it in 2017. There it is, The Bean Project, tucked away in a corner of cyberspace – the source files all gone, the software I used to programme it defunct and the browsers advanced beyond what could be imagined when it was first written. Thanks to Leonardo Flores, of I ♥ E-Poetry for taking care of it for me. Odd to think it’s used as a teaching tool in a university in Puerto Rico – but then that is the wonder of the web. I have often referred to the root meaning of the word ‘curate’ as taking care of, so this is a good example of what that makes reference to.

It was while I was doing my MA in Fine Art at Cardiff UWIC that I learnt html coding, and then went on to more complex things, like Director, Flash and Dreamweaver. The olden days!

The Bean Project was devised as a self-training programme. I wanted to learn dynamic codes and explore what I could achieve with them. Sadly, the archived site no longer has any moving parts, but originally the ostrich legs danced and some images moved around.

One problem I always struggled with when I made online artworks was their lack of physical presence. So this one set out to counter that too – every day it began with a tangible, growing organic object. The daily photo of the object provided my colour palette. I used colour pick in Photoshop to select the mood for each day. Amusing now to see how the ending happened. The world turned black and white, like the dog. You will have to read it to understand the reference.

Once I ended the project I designed, printed out, folded and glued, some bean seed packets, and put a few beans in them, sealed them up, and gave them to people. It was marketing-come-full-circle making.

I applied for a job at the Poetry Can in Bristol as a website designer. I was shocked that when I went for interview – they offered me a job as poet in residence. I refused, saying that I am not a poet and that it would be unfair on all the poets who had applied if they were to give a poet’s role to a non-poet. I didn’t get the web designers job either.

Looking back, I have made some very shit decisions in my creative life.

Funny, to remember this years later, at a point in my life where I write more than I make art and much of that writing is, for want of a better word, poetry. (That is the name of the digital folder I keep these poem-things in, because I still struggle with the thought of being a ‘poet’).


Thanks to my friend

The bean project

Did not end

Because now I have in mind

To revisit the ideas



By using it’s seed

To try another way

And capture the spirit of bean

And create a new work

That’s never been



I shall use the circularity of the project as a framework. The Bean Project was an object that morphed and adapted to every new day and that process was encapsulated and manifested in code. Then it returned to the physical world as a packet of beans (sadly I lost them all somewhere).

Another project “Dear friend” did something similar. That was a video project that documented me writing a letter to camera, bemoaning my awful handwriting and apologising for it in the letter. It had subtitles and a voice over – being someone who has always had to consider access issues in my professional world. It was playful. The film ended with me folding up the letter and slipping it into a crystal DVD case. The film was then burnt onto a DVD disk and inserted in the case. Full circle.

The rediscovery of the Bean Project has stimulated another cycle of the turntable. I plan to take it for a spin. So, thank you Carol for finding the site maintained by I love E Poetry, and thank you Leonardo for keeping it safe.


Day 1:

just a bean…








heart shaped


Stop Press

Just seen Leonardo’s TED talk – brilliant. It reminds me of my little saying “dhtml writing is like concrete poetry released from the concrete”.



Published by carolyn black

I'm an artist and also commission contemporary art in unusual locations. As a producer, I fundraise, curate, project manage and deliver projects. I'm also a writer and film-maker.

One thought on “The Bean Project revisited after 15 years

  1. Reblogged this on Carolyn Black ArtWorks and commented:
    Recently I sent out some Morning Glory seeds in a handmade seed-pack to family and friends. Intended to send hope and optimism, beautiful flowers to enjoy over what could be a long summer.

    This blogpost is a re-share and refers to my first ever website project – all about growing.

    My niece! Erin, is sending me daily photos of her seedlings growing, which is delightful! This all makes sense if my Story of Objects project too. Sometimes little things are loaded with love.


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