Sign Language by Tom Konyves

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If one can use the term “classic” to describe something that’s only 26 years old, this videopoem certainly qualifies. I was surprised to discover I’ve never shared it here before. (I did post Eric Gamalinda’s similar “Front Toward Enemy,” which I assume was inspired by Konyves’ piece.)

Tom Konyves of course is the guy who coined the term “videopoetry,” and he’s done a lot to help definine and promote the genre. Be sure to check out the Moving Poems forum for his most recent summary of videopoetry, cross-posted from his Vimeo profile. Here’s what he says about “Sign Language” in the notes at Vimeo:

“Sign Language” (1984) is a videopoem constructed entirely from images of graffiti around the city of Vancouver. The rhythm of the work is created by the synchronized editing of the images with the soundtrack. The music I selected for the work, entitled “You Haunt Me”, is performed by the saxophonist John Lurie with the group Lounge Lizards. Unlike most of my work, the soundtrack complements the visual presentation. The title of the work contains the double meaning of hand-sign language, used to communicate with the deaf.

A pure example of “found poetry”, this videopoem gives voice to the faceless underground of Vancouver’s east side, bearing witness to their outrage and pain, their uncompromising and sometimes anarchic vision of the absurdity in our lives, all with a measured touch of humour to remind us that the family of man – no matter how far outcast we may be – includes each and every one of us.

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