Filmmaker: Marie Craven

Hybrid by Nigel Wells

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A recent video by Marie Craven extends her experimentation with kinestatic videopoetry in an ekphrastic direction. She described the process in a public Facebook post (links added):

Hybrid: a new collaborative video. The process of making it started with the original art by Marguerite de Mosa. Then came the music by SK123. Then finally the words, written by Nigel Wells in response to an early draft of the video. It’s a change in the order of how I usually put things together for a videopoem, and it was interesting trying things this way. Thanks to the great collaborators, Marguerite, Steve and Nigel, for working with me on this!

Poem for Rent by Kim Mannix

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The text here is by Canadian poet Kim Mannix, the music by Adi Carter, and the video and voice are the work of Marie Craven, who really puts the “kinetic” into “kinestatic” in her use of still images. See the Vimeo description for links to all the photographers, and listen to the complete soundtrack, “Blink Blink,” on SoundCloud.

Our last video of 2016 is also our first of 2017, since it’s already the New Year in Australia where Marie lives. And a few hours ago on Facebook, she wrote: “The turn of the year is my favorite time. For me, it is about letting go of the past and going fresh into the new.” Here’s wishing all Moving Poems readers/viewers a happy, peaceful and creative New Year.

In the Forest by Candida Baker

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I love the abstract imagery in this videopoem by Marie Craven. It’s partly the work of the poet herself, according to Craven’s process notes in a recent blog post, “Mid-year videos 2016“:

Much closer to home, I was delighted when well-known Byron Bay writer, Candida Baker, contacted me recently with some lovely poems she thought might be of interest. She already had high quality voice recordings of her own readings, produced by Sunshine Coast musician and sound artist, Michael Whiticker, and some abstracted landscape photographs to work with as well. An attempt at creating a video poem was irresistible to me. This video, ‘In The Forest’, is the result. It is, again, a visually abstract piece. The effect of motion from still images was achieved by creating three layers, one static and two slowly zooming in opposing directions, and also by creating multi-layer dissolves between the images. I was struck by the beautiful colours of the Australian landscape that were captured in the original stills and was pleased for their colours and textures to become even more abstractly focused in the video images. The music is by Podington Bear, whose wonderful sounds I have included in videos before. These I’ve sourced from the many musical tracks available around the internet on Creative Commons license. The bird sounds are from Tai Inoue at Nature Sounds Australia in Cairns, from a download link he shared at Soundcloud with permission to re-use. The email collaboration with Candida Baker was very engaged and a joy from start to end. She and I will be meeting in person for the first time this week, when she interviews me for the online magazine she edits and publishes, Verandah. It’s rare that I have the opportunity to meet internet collaborators and I’m very much looking forward to this. The profile will appear in an issue of the magazine in the near future.

Click through to watch and read about all three of Craven’s recent videos. I just want to add that I think it’s commendable not only that Craven regularly collaborates with poets and musicians at such a high level, but also that she “shows her work” and describes her process in such detail. I wish more filmmakers and video artists would follow her example.

Dictionary Illustrations by Sarah Sloat (2)

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I’ll end the week with a poem by one of my favorite poets, Sarah Sloat, interpreted by one of my favorite poetry-film makers, Marie Craven, in what I think is one of the most effective examples of the kinestatic style in videopoetry that I’ve seen. (Kinestasis is properly defined as “an animation technique using a series of still photographs or artwork to create the illusion of motion,” but I use the term, in the absence of a better one, a bit more broadly, to refer to any faster-than-slideshow series of still images in a video.) Craven’s masterful deployment of images from the Brockhaus Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1890-1907) unfolds to music by Podington Bear and the Poetry Storehouse voice recording by a young boy identified only as DM. Someone on Facebook described the overall effect as “sumptuously austere.”

This isn’t the first poetry film to use this text; no less than Marc Neys AKA Swoon has also tried his hand at it. But Craven definitely gave him a run for his money here. Sloat’s text seems especially ripe for videopoetic adaptation, given its musing on the relationship between words and images. Pen-and-ink illustrations in a dictionary break up the columns of text, Sloat says, “like little windows opening / from one side of the brain // to the other.” That’s exactly what happens to me whenever I watch a good videopoem.

Advice Dyslexic by Lisa Vihos (3)

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Last year, I shared two videos made with Lisa Vihospoem “Advice Dyslexic”: one by Dale Wisely and one by Marc Neys AKA Swoon. Now Marie Craven and Nigel Wells have given us two more. Craven explained on Facebook that she and Wells had challenged each other to each make a short video out of the poem over the long holiday weekend, and both decided to use Nic S.’s voice recording in their videos.

Both of the videos take a fairly literal, illustrative approach to the text, but for once, this seems to work, I think because the poem is so playful. The videos simply build upon that playfulness, keeping things light and fast-moving.

One Dream Opening Into Many by Kallie Falandays

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American poet Kallie Falandays’ text is superimposed onto mirrored images in a new videopoem by Australian artist Marie Craven. The soundtrack is by SK123. This approach to video imagery is one that Craven has used before, in her videos Transmission and Double Life, but One Dream Opening Into Many is in my view even more effective in its sleight-of-hand gestures toward the text:

[…] This bird,
which is also not a bird, is still dying

but at times, when my mother hobbles
past the window to get water,
the sunlight clouds it like tiny people

made of light stepping over the ocean
and it is set free.

Perhaps it’s an inversion of our usual way of thinking about poetry to have the text-on-screen in this videopoem seem more stable, less evanescent than the folding and unfolding elements of the world to which it alludes.

The Meeting Ran Long by Eric Blanchard

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A new, text-on-screen-style videopoem by Australian artist Marie Craven using a text by American poet Eric Blanchard and sections of three hand-processed, experimental films. Craven recently shared some process notes as a part of a blog post about her recent videopoetry remixes.

After putting together a first videopoem last year based on the poetry of Eric Blanchard, I went exploring more of his writing to be found on the web. I was especially drawn to a prose poem called ‘The Meeting Ran Long‘, published in Literary Orphans. The piece created for me a sense of daydreaming in an empty room in a transitional moment of solitude, evoking a short stream from the unconscious mind. I started experimenting with how I might present this as text on screen and settled on simply deconstructing the written piece into component phrases that might reveal or give rise to new resonances in the unconscious spaces of the writing itself. Once I had transferred all the text to the screen, I cut the visual phrases to an experimental music piece by C.P. McDill, a sound artist whose work I have followed and admired since about 2008. The track, ‘Iced Coffee‘, was sourced from The Internet Archive, where it is freely available for remixing on a Creative Commons licence. For the images I went to Vimeo and did some searches on key words in their large pool of videos also available for remixing via Creative Commons. I discovered the work of the Mono No Aware group and selected three hand-processed films by Rachael Guma, Ashley Swinnerton and David Beard. Aside from being wonderful experimental film pieces in themselves, each flowed in a kinetic way that reminded me of the pace of thoughts, memories and images as they flow through a human brain. I put these together with a universal film leader from an old vaudeville show to come up with a first draft of the video. I then sent it to the poet to ask his permission to proceed with a final version. Eric kindly agreed. After a little reworking, this is the video that emerged.

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