Namesake by Robert Peake

Poet: | Nationality: , | Filmmaker: ,

A witty animated poem by American-British poet Robert Peake that begins with a Google image search and gets progressively more surreal. It’s based on what he calls “a poem for my nemesis“—the 17th-century court painter Robert Peake the Elder. That original posting included links to the referenced paintings which appear as pop-ups on hover, so a visual component was part of the poem from the beginning, as Peake acknowledged in a more recent blog post about the video:

Having already enhanced this ekphrastic poem with imagery, I decided that a film-poem seemed like an obvious next step. Visually, the film follows the poem’s concerns about different kinds of reality — personal, virtual, and historical — by playing with dimensionality.

It gave me the opportunity to try out parallax 2.5d animation using all open-source tools (Gimp and Blender), which I found both painstaking and enjoyable. I also mocked up flat animations in HTML and Javascript — such as the opening search scene and ending Matrix-style text, using screen capture to convert it to video. Valerie Kampmeier wrote and performed the score, inspired by courtly dances and the D-minor feel of a dial-up modem sequence.

It’s interesting to compare this with Ross Sutherland’s “Poem Looked Up On Google Streetview.” Google has more to offer videopoets than just search-query poems, it seems.

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