Posts in Category: Concrete and visual poetry

Navn Nome Name by OTTERAS

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Sound poetry and concrete poetry elude most efforts at translation — except for translation into videopoetry, as in this new release from Ottar Ormstad, Taras Mashtalir and Alexander Vojjov. I’m sure knowing Norwegian would add layers of meaning but even without that, I found the visualization of names as planetary objects or one-celled organisms intriguing and delightful. Here’s the Vimeo description:

NAVN NOME NAME (2016) is based on Ottar Ormstad’s “telefonkatalogdiktet” (‘the phonebook poem’). It is his third book of concrete poetry, published in Norway by Samlaget (2006). For this language research project, Ormstad read (!) the phonebook of Oslo 2004 and selected names on a poetic basis. In the book, the names are presented visually as concrete poetry. Most of the names are strongly connected to Norwegian and describe phenomena in nature.

NAVN NOME NAME is the second work of a collection of video poems created by the Norwegian-Russian duo OTTARAS (Ottar Ormstad and Taras Mashtalir) in collaboration with Russian video artist Alexander Vojjov. In the video, Ormstad reads names selected by the Russian-American composer Mashtalir. Through this work, Norwegian language turns into international sound poetry. Ormstad’s collection of family names present in Oslo’s phonebook at the time of reading are exposed and read by the author while performing to Mashtalir’s pulsating music. Is everyone connected to each other in the sphere that is shaping before the viewer’s eyes? How do names and language relate to the atmospheric scapes Vojjov creates of numbers, geometric forms and abstract shapes?

NAVN NOME NAME exists in different versions made for screening and live performance. Raising awareness of electronic poetry and sonic ecology, attracting new audience to a potent yet to come genre is the inspiration for this collaboration.

The video is produced in HD 16:9 in color, stereo.
Duration: 06:05 mins
Animation: Alexander Vojjov
Music: Taras Mashtalir
Concrete poetry, voice & production: Ottar Ormstad
© Ottar Ormstad 2016

Long Rong Song by OTTARAS

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The Norwegian concrete poet Ottar Ormstad and Russian composer Taras Mashtalir form the duo OTTARAS, currently looking for live performance venues. This video was produced in collaboration with Russian video artist Alexander Vojjov, and “exists in different versions made for screening and live performance,” according the Vimeo description.

Projected on a grid of particles that at times seem ordered, while sometimes chaotic and always in flux, Ormstad’s constructed language poetry is exposed and read by the author while performing to Mashtalirs pulsating music. Is everything connected to one another in the sphere that is shaping before the viewer’s eyes? How does language relate to the atmospheric scapes Vojjov creates of numbers, geometric forms and abstract shapes? LONG RONG SONG (2015) conveys Ormstad’s language research project that is based on AUDITION FOR FENOMENER UTEN BETEGNELSE (Audition for Phenomena without a Name), his second book of concrete poetry (2004). In the video, Ormstad reads through a cycle of 5 poems that present combinations of four letters made of an artifical language system that he has created and which may, or may not result in words commonly used in latin languages. […] Raising awareness of electronic poetry and sonic ecology, attracting new audience to a potent yet to come genre is the inspiration for this collaboration.
The video is produced in HD 16:9 in color, stereo, duration 05:26
Animation: Alexander Vojjov
Music: Taras Mashtalir
Concrete poetry, voice & production: Ottar Ormstad
© Ottar Ormstad 2015

I find it a mesmerizing hybrid of concrete and sound poetry—a great example of how an effective video can make avant-garde poetry approachable.

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.