A found-footage videopoem by Kevin Spenst for a text by Michael e. Casteels, which originally appeared in The Puritan (scroll down for a bio of the poet). Spenst is also a published poet, and told me that this was his first effort at a videopoem based on another poet’s work. See his YouTube channel for more of his poetry videos, and visit Puddles of Sky Press to browse chapbooks by Casteels and others.
There’s also a version without the English subtitles.
(Hat-tip: London Poetry Systems.)
This may be the least poetic poetry video I’ve ever posted here, but I found it oddly compelling and hypnotic. It’s a translation of a Dadaist poem into binary code by Lucas Battich, who writes:
‘Karawane’ is a poem written and performed by Hugo Ball in 1916, and it consists of meaningless words and sounds. Ball was one of the founders of Dada, and the poem was first read in the newly opened Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.
The sound on this version consists of a voiceover-software reading of the poem in its binary code form. This film shows what becomes of a poem, even one that is nonsensical, anarchic, when we put it through the technologies that we now take for granted.
Can you translate nonsense? For the poem to get online, it went through a few changes. It did become translated somehow. The actual poem became a surface with something behind, some thing added that it didn’t have before, and something that is still language and can be read. By software.
For Ball’s original text, see Poets.org, which includes a vigorous reading by Christian Bök.
An eight-minute filmpoem that still ends up seeming much too short. Digital artist Tom Schofield and filmmaker Kate Sweeney have created a truly masterful, immersive work that pays tribute to one of the glories of Medieval art. I’ll let Sweeney explain:
The Antiphonal project began as an original commission to 12 poets to write a poem inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels. The poets involved are all based in the region and include: Gillian Allnutt, Linda Anderson, Peter Armstrong, Peter Bennet, Colette Bryce, Christy Ducker, Alistair Elliot, Cynthia Fuller, Linda France, Bill Herbert, Pippa Little and Sean O’Brien. The poems were then turned into a sound installation, entitled Antiphonal, by digital artist Tom Schofield, and sited in two iconic places: the newly renovated Lookout Tower on Lindisfarne and the crypt of St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh.
Visual artist Kate Sweeney then produced two films in response to the sound installations. Using time lapse Kate sought to capture the colossal beauty of the landscape at Lindisfarne and how it changes through the course of a day. This is contrasted with the fragile detail captured in the Crypt at Bamburgh, where she imagines the breath of the past gently disturbing the cobwebs over the stones.
There’s more background on the website of the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal.
This project was also part of a larger project, The Colme Cille Spiral, of which it formed one of six ‘knots’.
The project was a communal act of making, involving a group of poets and digital artists sharing inspiration on two journeys to Bamburgh and Lindisfarne, before they embarked on the commission. Eminent medievalist, Professor Clare Lees, King’s College London, was also involved in a conversation with the poets and artists, providing relevant texts, images and stories. The sound installation produced from the poems worked in a different way from the written page, enacting a dialogue between the poems, and demonstrating the emotive power of the human voice. The project reworked medieval themes and images, translating them and re-interpreting them for the present. It also placed poetry in new settings and involved different audiences. The crypt was more successful than the Tower, because of the number and noisiness of the visitors to the Tower. This was the first use of the crypt, which has been newly opened to the public, and the members of the church and community took ownership of the project, asking for there to be chairs so they could sit and listen over a period of time. The impact of the project continues in two further exhibitions, and a radio programme. The project is about listening and attention, and about hearing the echoes of the past in the present.
A piece by Belgian poet Jan H. Mysjkin, ably translated into English by John Irons, supplied the inspiration for Swoon’s first videopoem of 2014. Check out his process notes, where he talks about how the soundtrack took shape and what led him to settle on the footage he used from the Prelinger Archives.
First, a translation by Manolis Aligizakis included in the Vimeo description:
There is a door in the night that only the blind see,
darkness makes the animals hear better,
and him, staggered, not from being drunk,
but from his futile effort to climb
up to the tower we once lost.
And now for the rest of the description:
An animated interpretation of the Greek poet Tasos Livaditis’s “Night,” Afroditi Bitzouni conceived her video “when my laptop was broken.” “At that time,” she explains, “there was nothing better to do other than flipping the pages of my fairytales and reading my favorite poems. I was reading [the poem ‘Night,’] every night for months. The illustrations [in my video] were based on a drawing I had done on the bottom of the poem in the book.”
Afroditi Bitzouni is a member of Indyvisuals Design Collective. She studied Product and Systems Design Engineering at The University of the Aegean, as well as Animation at The Glasgow School of Art. Her work has appeared in the Athens Video Art Festival, LPM (Live Performers Meeting), the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, and other venues.
The sound was produced by DJ Enthro of Psyclinic Tactix.
There isn’t much about Livaditis on the web in English, but I found this blog post helpful.
Tasos Livaditis (Athens, 1922-1988) was a Greek poet. Livaditis studied law at Athens University, but soon his gift for creating poetry was discovered. He had a strong political commitment in the political left movement, and because of that he was condemned, led to exile and has been kept in prison from 1947 till 1951, among others on the island of torture Makronisos, together with Yannis Ritsos, Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Katrakis.
In 1946 the journal Elefthera Grammata published a first article . In 1952 his first volume of poems appeared battle on the edge of the night. Between 1954 and 1980 he worked as a literary critic for the newspaper Avgi. Some of his books were banned in the 1950s because of their seditious content.
Tasos Livaditis got a number of national and international awards for his poetry and was considered one of the outstanding Greek poets of the last century.
The video was uploaded by Tin House, a well-regarded print literary magazine with a growing online component, including a weekly series called Tin House Reels, where this video was featured on January 9th. Tin House Reels features “videos by artists who are forming interesting new relationships between images and words,” and is open to video submissions (though for some reason only of work that has not previously appeared on the web).