As part of Ross Sutherland‘s “30 Videos/30 Poems” digital residency at The Poetry School, he welcomed challenges from students. So Nick Halloway suggested that he try to fit a poem to this short film by Alan Kitching, and he succeeded brilliantly, I think, adding his reading on top of the original soundtrack (Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” from the opera La Gioconda) and managing to make it seem as if the animation had been created for the text rather than vice versa. I don’t know if Sutherland sought permission from Antics Animation to remix the film, but if not, I hope they don’t force him to take it down, because it’s a great example of ekphrastic videopoetry—while still illustrating the Pythagorean theorem as well as it did before.
A minimalist, author-made videopoem:
Images and initial sound by Denise Newman
Singing by Dame Joan Sutherland “Rose Softly Blooming” from the opera Zemira and Azor
Newman, who also teaches college undergraduates, has somehow managed to get snails to collaborate on videopoems. I asked her how she did it, and she replied:
Aren’t those snails talented? No training and it only took one shot. I worked with other snails after that but had to become a “snail whisperer” to get them to cooperate.
The relationship between screens and metaphor seemed like a good way to bring this residency towards a close.
How does TV like to portray itself? Short answer: usually as an oracle of some kind, or as a device to show a character’s inner thoughts. It’s right up there with “tortured protagonist looks in a cracked mirror.”
Although I know I’ve seen it a hundred times, these scenes are hard things to seek out on the web. If anyone can name any more, please comment below! I’d like to make a super-cut someday.
(Comment at Vimeo, not here, if you have suggestions for Ross.)
I wonder if anyone’s ever used footage of people watching videopoetry in a videopoem? Now that would be meta!
First of all, let me make it clear that the director/producers of this film, Hernán Talavera and Chema Araque (A.K.A. Chema Arake) do not claim that it’s a poetry film; that’s my contention. Talavera, also credited as writer, has made films for his own poetry and for poems by Alfonsina Storni and Alejandra Pizarnik, all of which I’ve shared here, and Araque too has made videopoems. But this is a much more ambitious project, a nearly 12-minute portrait of a derelict palace in Spain. It has garnered numerous awards. The directors say:
The corpse of a palace in ruins turns into its own mausoleum.
Interiorism searchs for a Zen vision in which man is totally integrated into his surroundings. That is why Hernán Talavera and Chema Araque highlighted the most organic part of the building, and they watch as nature recovers its primitive space: the light, water, plants, birds, insects… break the barrier between what is natural and what is artificial, by invading a space built for people. Part of the entire process is much like a documentary. The directors walked around the palace many times totally open to any suggestions forthcoming from the place itself. The process took them three years.
What makes it a poetry film, in my estimation, is the inclusion of a text in the soundtrack, a medical diagnosis voiced by Luis Fernando Ríos—or rather, the evocative interplay between that very clinical text and the lyrical montage of images.
It’s time to check in on the progress of Ross Sutherland‘s “30 Videos/30 Poems” digital residency at The Poetry School. He’s uploaded 27 videos so far, and intends to finish by the end of this week. As promised, the videopoems in the series have been highly diverse, “exploring the different ways that the two mediums can shape and influence the other” in a wonderfully witty and experimental spirit—which means that even the ones that don’t wholly succeed are still instructive. I’d count this one as a success, a remix of a newscast from Irish television that offers one answer to the question: How the hell do you make a videopoem with a text describing another work of art? I’m not saying that’s quite what he’s done here, but that’s the pretense. The viewer is rewarded with a kind of double seeing, trying to picture the painting described by the museum-docent narrator while simultaneously re-evaluating the newscast in light of it.
A masterpiece of collage/remix videopoetry co-directed by the author of the text, poet Heid E. Erdrich, with R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. Art direction, animation and effects are by Jonathan Thunder. The excellent audio track is the work of Gabriel Siert, and additional visual art is credited to Carolyn Lee Anderson, Andrea Carlson, and Angie Erdrich. The synopsis on Erdrich’s website reads:
“Pre-Occupied” is a new and experimental form, the poem-film. Originally written for the website 99 Poems for the 99%, poet Heid E. Erdrich created a visual landscape of associations and references that match the tremendous irony of how the word “occupy” can be meant. The film version of this poem is a collaborative collage that means to reveal the distracted human mind at a particular point in history. Released in early 2013, the film inadvertently anticipated the Idle No More Movement. [link added]
Erdrich has made several other poetry films as well, including a new one that should be released shortly, according to Saara Myrene Raappana of Motionpoems, who kindly emailed me after attending an AWP panel at which Erdrich shared her films.
A text-on-screen, author-made videopoem by Denise Newman, a multi-media poet and translator who teaches at the California College of the Arts. Her films have shown at the Southern Exposure Gallery in San Francisco and at the Whitney Museum in New York City, and she’s been collaborating with composers for the past decade, in addition to writing books of poetry and translating fiction from the Danish—a perfect skill-set for videopoetry.
The credits at the end note that this was “filmed at Juniper Lake in 2014 by Denise Newman” with “voice/sound by Ania Samborska.”