Posts in Category: Concrete and visual poetry

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.

innocent beat by Martha McCollough

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An interesting kinetic-text animation by Martha McCollough, a painter and animator from Boston, who notes in the description that it it is “Based on a page from my erasure project Grey Vacation. The wrongest thing ever said.”

IO game over by Sergio Garau

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This videopoem by Angelo Saccu, performed by Sergio Garau to music by Antonio Marra, betrays influences from all over: it’s equal parts concert video, sound poem and concrete/kinetic-text poem. I ran the YouTube description through Google Translate:

The violent encounter between political identities, economic, cultural, language here is staged through an ironic game of opposites. The ‘I’, translated into machine language 1 0 (zero), cut into pieces for binary digital misunderstood as grotesque chaos of contradictory slogans of contemporary power, explodes in a syncopated rhythm outside of himself. For tris doubly impossible breaks down the end of his world.