First comes the language. That is the foundation. Then the video poem builds upon that language, goes to war with that language, prompts that language to shed its skin and become something new, albeit still grounded in voice, breath, and the body.
Martha McCollough’s latest videopoem is a bit of a departure from her previous work, reinforcing her reputation as one of the most versatile practitioners of the medium. Whether or not she intended it as a statement on the freshly controversial Laura Ingalls Wilder—the last line would seem to suggest that she did—it’s a great meditation on language and the construction (or destruction) of place.
Happy Independence Day to all my American readers.
In the course of ordering the new book The Tender Between by noted modern haiku poet Eve Luckring, I looked up her website and discovered to my pleasure that she’s also a multimedia artist who has experimented with videopoetry to great effect. So I’m featuring this 12-part series as my sole post to the main site this week, in the hopes that vistors will find the time to watch it. For those with limited time, however, Luckring has also uploaded an excerpt:
The Vimeo description reads:
The Junicho Video-Renku Book is a series of 12 “twelve-tone” video-poems (1:45-3 minutes each) based on a form of 17th century Japanese poetry called renku.
The experience of watching a video-renku is phantasmagoric. From a centipede trapped in a sink to a man singing karaoke to his pet love-birds, The Junicho Video-Renku Book creates a richly layered collage of moving image, sound, and text that journeys through the everyday. Similar to an exquisite corpse, renku is composed as a counter-narrative according to a complex set of rules based on the structural devices of “link and shift”. In addition to many other parameters, the verses of a renku must travel through all four seasons, comment on love, and address both the moon and blossom.
Luckring’s website adds:
The Junicho Video-Renku Book premiered at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and has since been presented at &NOW 2015: Blast Radius, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, The Wroclaw Media Art Biennale, 2015, Poland and Whitespace, 2017, Atlanta, GA.
This powerful, incantatory filmpoem stars the author-director, Natalie Raymond, and was shot at the Salton Sea in southern California. The Vimeo description:
An experimental narrative at the intersection of poetry & filmmaking, BONES explores the journey through a selfhood decimated by trauma. Based on poems from the book length manuscript missoula,, which was recently named a semi-finalist for Tarpaulin Sky’s 2017 book prize, BONES is about a daughter’s struggle to come to terms with her separate identity. more info: natalieraymond.com/bones
Directed by: Natalie Raymond
Director of photography: FuJui Freddy Tang
Wardrobe: Sanora Park
Audio & Text: Natalie Raymond
Brazilian writer and interdisciplinary performer Mariana Collares says in the Vimeo description:
In October 2013 I made a call to some women at facebook. I had written a poem about the objectification of women and intended to illustrate it through a video, with the participation of other women who had the same thought.
Hence arose the project that i finally conclude with the help and always accurate direction of Marcello Sahea.
I thank the women who dared to participate in the project by sending pictures of their personal files. I also thank those who, even from afar, share this our desire to contribute to the onset of effective awareness on this subject, still so controversial, and now finds its climax through various events worldwide.
The poem is about my liminal experiences as an immigrant child, caught between the old world and the new world, but never belonging to either one. It is a poem about dual identities: the public one, with broken English, and my secret domestic one, with broken Maltese. ‘Broken Words’ explores the identity that emerges from the language that breaks us.
They include a bio:
Maria Vella was born in Qormi, Malta, in 1980 and immigrated with her parents and younger brother to Melbourne in 1983. She is a video poet, poet and visual artist. Her work has appeared in The Best Australian Poems, Overland and elsewhere. She is a PhD candidate and tutor at Deakin University in Geelong. She is currently working on a collection of bilingual poems.
Hat-tip: The Poetry Film Live group on Facebook.
The underlying sequence of buildings panning along to a beachscape is actually a single still image that I built in Photoshop. It is constructed from about 100 images of buildings around the Adelaide CBD, North Haven, and Brighton. They were photographed on days with bright sunshine and clear blue skies so that the lighting was comparable across the shots. Even so, I needed to adjust colour, brightness, saturation, scale, perspective and so on to get the visual mix right. The blue skies also allowed for easier compositing later on. In the final mix, the background sky was processed to be the same in all assemblies and was derived from the average sky colour in the images. The final Photoshop file is huge: 62,000 x 1800 pixels and about 500 MB. It was assembled from 5 smaller montages, each of which was from a specific location, and each of which contained dozens of layers.
I then took the final composite image into Final Cut Pro X and animated the pan from one end to the other. To save memory, I rendered it, and used the resulting video clip in the final composite. The sky with moving clouds is composited from three sets of vids I took all on the same day, but in slightly different parts of the sky so that the cloud movements were not quite the same. They are sped up and looped to varying degrees. The various flying objects are from a commercial image library that I animated. The final moonrise sequence is taken from the recent lunar eclipse we had (click here to see that). It is composited via an animated mask and a couple of other image processing tweaks. The whole lot was composited using colour keys, background colour gradients, key framed text and opacity animations.
The soundtrack is tin can, a performance I did as part of a Paroxysm Press tribute to David Bowie. The text is inspired by Bowie’s Space Oddity, Arthur C Clarke & Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and NASA’s Pioneer 10 / 11 space probes to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, with all due reference to Homer’s Odyssey. The music is derived from the chord pattern of Space Oddity. You might find a few other references as well…
Ian’s text also demonstrates, I think, why poets can benefit from greater scientific literacy. When was the last time you read or heard a poem about the moon that didn’t still act as if ours were the only moon in the sky?