Posts in Category: Concrete and visual poetry

when by Ottar Ormstad

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Experimental poetry can sometimes seem excessively cerebral and lacking in emotion, but Norwegian visual poet Ottar Ormstad escapes that trap here with the help of terrific still images and a compelling score. The description from Ormstad’s upload to Vimeo is worth quoting at length:

In the film “when” Ottar Ormstad is transferring his practice as concrete poet to the realm of a programmable networked space, blending his poetry with specially composed modern music and electronic elements. His photographs are presented in combination with words in different languages, most of them presented as “letter-carpets”. Some sentences are from well known songs or films, other letter-combinations are invented by the author.

The film is telling a story about life and death, basically from the standpoint of cars, rotten in a field in Sweden. The narrative is open, and each viewer may experience the film very differently. It is also dependent upon the viewer’s language background, any translation is – intentionally – not given.
This experimental film cannot be translated in a traditional way. The words in different languages are integrated in the poetic expression. Subtitles are irrelevant.

The music and the animation was created in close cooperation with the author.
Music: Hagen & Nilsen from Xploding Plastix
Animation: Ina Pillat
Script, photographs, visual poetry by director & producer: Ottar Ormstad

Liberté by Maciej Piatek

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A concrete videopoem by the UK-based Polish video artist Maciej Piatek that alludes to a text by Paul Eluard and an historic, public use of that text, as the write-up on Vimeo explains:

The film was screened at Liberté during the ArtsBridge Festival 2014. Liberté was a multi-discipline performance featuring collaborations in poetry, music, film, dance, prose, performance and visual arts, that used Paul Éluard’s “Liberté” poem as a starting point. The poem was famously dropped from aeroplanes during WWII by the British Air force over occupied France.

2014 was a year of the centenary of the start of WWI and the 75th Anniversary of the start of WWII, and in an age where we see almost perpetual war, we are told that it is all necessary “for our freedom”. The performance attempted to analyse what liberty/freedom meant to each contributor.

Featured work by Lianne Brown, Gillie Carpenter, Isolde Davey, Holly Hero, Gaia Holmes, Tallulah Holmes, Cliff James, Alice Mill, Paul Mill, Steve Nash, Maciej Piatek, Winston Plowes

ArtsBridge Festival 2014 at Christchurch, Sowerby Bridge, UK

Todos esos momentos se perderan (All these moments will be lost in time) by Dier

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In celebration of World Poetry Day, here’s a video which may not fit some people’s idea of a poem at all — but which, to my way of thinking, represents the purest form of videopoetry. In fact, it was brought to my attention by videopoetry pioneer Tom Konyves (more about that in a minute). It’s the work of the Madrid-based filmmaker and graffiti artist Dier, and incorporates two kinds of found text: in the soundtrack, a monologue from the movie Blade Runner, and as images on the screen, the erased words of painted-over graffiti. The former is (eventually) translated into Spanish-language graffiti, but it’s the “lost” words that are uniquely able to communicate — or fail to communicate — in all languages, due to the universality of silence. This struck me as especially suggestive today, given the emphasis of World Poetry Day on endangered languages and censored or silenced poets, as well as on dialogue between poetry and the other arts. To quote from the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova’s message,

Today, contemporary forms of poetry, from graffiti to slam, enable young people to become engaged in the practice and renew it by opening the door to a new space for creation. The forms evolve, but the poetic impulse remains intact. […] As a deep expression of the human mind and as a universal art, poetry is a tool for dialogue and rapprochement.

In videopoetry as Konyves conceives of it, the meshing of different media goes well beyond mere dialogue, however. In a review of this video, “Loss, Memory, Spectacle, Redemption: A Hermeneutic Approach to Dier’s Videopoem Todos esos momentos se perderan (All Those Moments Will Be Lost In Time),” he reminds us that, in his view, “the ‘poetry’ in a videopoem is not the privileged ‘text’ — it is the moment of intersection between the text, image and sound.”

In “Todos esos momentos se perderan”, Dier succeeded in discovering the collaborative properties of the elements of text, image and sound. (Not all texts, images and soundtracks can be said to have ‘collaborative properties'; a previous!y published poem, for example, may arrive complete-in-itself.) The text is appropriated and bifurcated so that its relationship to the images (supported by a soundtrack that is itself an appropriation) presents to the viewer a metaphor extended and redrawn through key ‘moments’ in the unfolding of the work. The words of the spoken text are translated to Spanish before they are “enacted”, emphasizing their adaptation and service to the real world.

Due to the difficulty of copying and pasting from the online document, I’ll leave my quoting at that, but do click through and read the rest — an illuminating analysis which, unlike a lot of theorizing, should also be of practical value to any poets or filmmakers working in the field. For credits and Dier’s found-poem text translated from Blade Runner, see the description on Vimeo.

Mesostic (“Dancer/Suc/Hands…”) by John Cage

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A compelling animation of a visual poem, one of John Cages’s mesostics, by Federica Cristiani. She writes:

In this video I try to create a perfect balance between music and video. The letters appear following the beat of the music. My purpose is to create a perfect synesthesia within sound and typography.

This particular text was also included in a musical composition for solo voice, Sixty-Two Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham.

Words by VIV G

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This kintetic text animation by VIV G (Vivian Giourousis) definitely qualifies as a concrete poem.

The Polish Language by Alice Lyons

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This is just about the most inventive typographic animation I’ve even seen — a gorgeous and moving tribute to the power of Polish poetry by American-Irish poet and artist Alice Lyons and Irish artist Orla Mc Hardy. The film has its own website at thepolishlanguage.com, whence the following description:

The Polish Language is an animated film-poem about the subversive force of art and the renewal of poetry in the whispery language of Polish.

Based on the poem of the same title, the film pays homage to the revitalization of poetry in the Polish language in the 20th century. Using hand-drawn, stop-motion and time-lapse animation techniques, the poem unfolds onscreen, with typography as a key visual element. It visual style is loosely based on underground publications in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s, known as Bibula. A chorus of voices sampling poems in Polish, woven together with original music by sound designer Justin Spooner, combine to create a powerful score in a film of ’emotional depth and technical sophistication’ (Jury, Galway Film Fleadh 2009, award for Best Animation).

The Polish Language is at once a playful and solemn journey into the sensuality, beauty and power of language.

Lyons wrote the poem, while Mc Hardy took the lead on the animation. For full credits and a list of screenings, see the website’s About page. The poets sampled in the soundtrack are Tadeusz Różewicz, Zbigniew Herbert and Wisława Szymborska.

Written in My Dream by William Carlos Williams

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This kinetic text poetry animation by Nikolaus Lesnik uses a reading by Allen Ginsberg.