As the founding father of videopoetry, Tom Konyves is often asked to present at conferences and symposiums, but the ReVersed Poetry Film Festival in Amsterdam last month was the first to ask him to do so with reference to his own life and works. The film that he and Alex Konyves put together in response blends theory with reminiscences of some fascinating moments in avant-garde history, and includes a number of excerpts from Tom’s videopoems, some not otherwise available on the web — which is why I decided to share this here on the main site. Tom also provided the text of his talk at my request, which we’ve posted over at the forum (with added links to the full-length versions of a few of the referenced videopoems).
My favorite part is the bit about the role of chance, illustrated by a videopoem composed using the I Ching. Echoing Louis Pasteur (“Chance favors only the prepared mind”), Konyves says:
One has to be open and prepared for chance events to occur. On a perfect summer day, I decided to bring my equipment to nearby St. Helen’s Island. I found a spot to set up and began searching for an image that in retrospect I would call having a collaborative property, or at least collaborative potential. After about an hour of shooting windsurfers, I found three sailboats floating on the water. It was like a picture postcard. Suddenly I realized that behind the sailboats and a land mass there was a large ship moving across the screen.
“Collaborative potential”: yes. The world can be like that sometimes.
Anyway, the talk is full of such stories and insights. Enjoy.
Here’s a Sunday bonus video, a poetic un-sermon after my own heart from one of our finest Southern poets. Ed Madden’s TEDx talk seamlessly incorporates three poems from his 2013 collection My Father’s House: “How to lift him,” “Knowledge,” and “Thirst.” The book’s publisher, Ron Mohring, describes this talk as “Frank, open, painful, specific, direct, moving, and perhaps above all, generous.” I was especially moved by Madden’s quietly radical questioning of the power of communication to change those around us, and his refusal to grasp at easy, glib truths.
The video is also available at the TEDx site.
Each of the three dresses in the Lace Sensor Dress collection is embroidered with a different poem, sourced from an antique embroidery sampler. Each poem evokes a different emotion, which corresponds to a gesture that triggers a recording of the poem to be played through tiny speakers crocheted into the dress. The sensors are created from custom-made conductive lace and the harder they are pressed, the louder the poem will play.
Another selection from the performance “Nothing Twice” (Live Performers Meeting, Rome, May 2012) directed by Agnieszka “Bronka” Bronowska. The translation is credited to Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh and the performers are Joanna Łacheta and Lulu Lucyfer.
Be sure to expand this to full-screen. It’s one of several videos of Szymborska poems directed by Agnieszka Bronowska featuring Polish sign language performers, all from a longer presentation called “Nothing Twice.” I’m not entirely sure I understand the relationship between the video and the live performance, but here are the complete notes from Vimeo:
A part of the performance “Nothing Twice” (to be premiered during Live Performers Meeting in Rome, May 2012).
Directed by: Agnieszka “Bronka” Bronowska
Music: Dave Evans
Video and visual effects: Agnieszka Bronowska
Performers (video): Joanna Łacheta (feat. Sandeep Patil, Senbo Xiao, Dave Evans, Jozef Ivanecky, Johannes Wagner, Jing Zhou, Ilona Baldus, and Wolfgang Müller)
Performers (live): Agata Jurkiewicz, Agnieszka Bronowka, VJ Emiko, and Dave Evans
Piano and sound engineering: Dave Evans
Vocals (spoken word): Agnieszka Bronowska
The poem (“Wszelki wypadek” by Wisława Szymborska) was translated into English by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh.
Credits: Thanks to Joanna Łacheta, Bartosz Marganiec, and Foundation for the Promotion of Deaf Culture “KOKON” for a great meritoric support and assistance in Polish Sign Language interpretation of Wisława Szymborskaʼs poetry.