Posts in Category: Videopoems

Historia de mi muerte / Story of My Death by Leopoldo Lugones

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A Moving Poems production for a new series of poetry in translation for the group literary blog I contribute to, Via Negativa. Go there for the text of the poem and the translation; the titling on the video disregards both punctuation and lineation in the interest of displaying Spanish and English side by side, in the manner of a bilingual book of poetry. I haven’t seen this done on a bilingual poetry film before, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been — it seems like a fairly obvious arrangement.

As I wrote at Via Negativa, I translated the poem (with some invaluable assistance from Alicia E-Bourdin on Facebook) specifically with the intent of pairing it with that footage of cabbage white butterflies—which, when I shot it last week, I already recognized as having a certain Lugones-like feel. So it was just a question of finding the right poem.

Entropic Void by Payson R. Stevens

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It’s always fun to find poetry films made by innovators working in isolation from others in the field, since they bring a completely fresh outlook and approach. In the case of Payson R. Stevens, his unique background in science/science communication on the one hand and art and design on the other included helping to

pioneer the field of interactive multimedia starting in 1987. He produced and directed ten acclaimed educational CD-ROM titles on Earth science and environmental subjects, two of which debuted at the Smithsonian Institution’s 1995 Ocean Planet Exhibition. In 1994, InterNetwork received the Presidential Design Award for Excellence from Bill Clinton for the CD-ROM science-journal prototype, Arctic Data InterActive.

The above video is an example of a new type of work that Stevens has trademarked: Video Tone Poems.

In October 2013, a trip to the spectacular Ajanta and Ellora ancient caves in the state of Maharastra, India catalyzed a new integration of my creative expression through video, poetry, photography, and music. I call this work Video Tone Poems™ (VTPs). A tone poem is classically defined as a piece of orchestral music, usually in one movement, on a descriptive or rhapsodic theme.

I believe the Video Tone Poems™ may be a new auteur genre, using all the visual, poetic, and musical tools and technologies to express a unified vision of one individual’s expression in multiple creative arts. Of course, living in the isolation of Behta Pani/Flowing Waters (our Himalayan retreat), I may be deluded or perhaps watching my shadow reflecting on my studio walls…while Plato laughs.

Stevens divides the VTPs into three categories based on the type of message. Entropic Void belongs in the “Afflicted Messages” category, “meditations on the human condition, the environment, and technology, all interacting in this, The Age of Anthropocene (described as the global impacts of human behavior which include climate change, species invasion and extinction, etc.).” Stevens told me in an email, “I screened the VTPs in New Delhi last October and at the San Diego Museum of Art in Feb to a full house and enthusiastic response.”

I’m not sure how I feel about message-oriented poetry in general, but I like this videopoem a lot. There is nothing remotely touristic about his gaze; the people shown are just people, not exoticized others, in keeping with the poem’s hortatory “you.”

Cat on the Tracks by Mark Pajak

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This filmpoem by Katie Garrett is an excellent demonstration of how to stay close to the imagery of a poem without merely illustrating it and diminishing both film and text in the process. The text, by Mark Pajak, is a Commended poem from the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2014. Judge Zoë Skoulding’s remarks on the poem already seem to anticipate the filmpoem:

The ingenious structure of ‘Cat on the Tracks’ produces an eerie sense of inevitability, where the lines of both poem and the train hurtle on their collision course. The filmic detail of the cat’s eyes’ slow blink draws us into a parallel world in which physical laws seem – just for a moment – suspended.

Farerra by Gabriel Rosenstock

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Farerra is a selection from a rensaku (“a sequence of haiku or tanka in which the individual stanzas do not function independently,” says AHA) by the prominent Irish poet and haikujin Gabriel Rosenstock. This videopoem version by Swoon (Marc Neys) uses the first eight haiku of the sequence, and combines Rosensack’s reading in Irish Gaelic from Lyrikline with an English translation on the screen. Marc writes:

For the visuals I decided to use stills by Pyanek, who made some brilliant macro photos. He is a photographer who uses the reverse-lense technique to delve deeper into the tiny worlds that make up the world we can see with our naked eye. I thought these images expressed exactly what I was looking for to combine with Gabriel’s observations of the nature around the Catalonian Pyrenees. They both dive into our natural world and surroundings to dig underneath the surface, somehow…

I applied the same visual haiku technique (5/7/5 seconds for each image) as I did earlier and placed the English version as (sober) text on screen with each last image. The only movement is a gentle zooming in and out.

Incidentally, Marc has just launched a low-key crowd-funding campaign to support his work as a filmmaker and composer. His main editing computer just died, and he can’t afford to buy a new one without our help. If you enjoy his videopoems, please consider making a donation. As someone who often has trouble asking for help and believes in open content and open source, I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment:

I strongly believe in art being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread all over the world (real and virtual).

But I also believe that in order for artists to create and produce, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.

I’m basically stretching my comfort zone by getting out of my comfortable hermit existence to connect with you people and hold my hand out, be it virtually.

Read the rest of his appeal.

In the Air by Kate Sweeney

A unique poetry film: a hand-drawn animation of poets’ hands from interview snippets that can also be seen as a remix videopoem. Kate Sweeney explains in the Vimeo description:

Created from short elliptical sequences taken from archived interviews with four Bloodaxe poets. I wanted to isolate the gestures used when explaining the poetic, the abstract thoughts they couldn’t express in words alone. Gesture is communication that is also a kind of drawing in the air.

C.K Williams, in his interview with Ahren Warner, muses that “In a sense the final version of any work of art pretends to be an improvisation; even a painting. First the painter puts down the ground on the canvas or the wood then he puts down another layer of something then he begins to put the blocks in and then the last layer, little brush strokes, that look like improvisation”. The archive offers a window through to all those described layers. It tracks the process of producing a poem, a book and in a way, a poet. Inspired by my research in the archive, the animation includes the smudges, rips, mistakes and corrections, of the paper it was drawn on, revealing and incorporating the process into the final version.

Landmine in a Field of Flowers by Matt Mullins

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A recent videopoem from filmmaker-poet Matt Mullins. This is the way the meadows look now where I live, in central Pennsylvania.

Apocalypse Rhyme by Oliver Harrison

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I’m not always enamored of the sorts of poetry films that get chosen as Vimeo Staff Picks, but this one is bloody amazing. “Poem, animation and soundtrack by Oliver Harrison. Commissioned by Animate Projects in conjunction with Lupus Films for Channel 4’s Random Acts.” It won the Best Motion Graphics award at the 2014 Animation Awards, according to Harrison’s website. Enjoy.

(Hat-tip: Nadeen White, via the contact form. Thanks, Nadine!)

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