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.
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.
Last year, I shared two videos made with Lisa Vihos‘ poem “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.
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.
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.
Australian artist Marie Craven describes her first videopoem in many months as
Some fun with Sheffield dance music, DIY visual fx and poetry.
Concept & Editing: Marie Craven pixieguts.com
Music & Mixing: Adrian Carter soundcloud.com/adicarter
Voice: Nic S. verylikeawhale.wordpress.com
From a poem by Ashleigh Lambert poetrystorehouse.com/2015/03/28/ashleigh-lambert-poems
It’s nice to see filmmakers continuing to draw upon work in the Poetry Storehouse.
Marie Craven remixed some surreal footage by Simone Mogliè and Fernanda Veron, music by Adrian Carter, and Nic S.‘s reading of a poem by Kallie Falandays at the Poetry Storehouse. (Nic has also made her own video for the poem.) I’m especially impressed by the bold choice of music. It shocked me at first, but I eventually came to feel that it provides just the right contrast for the dream-like imagery, throwing it and the voiceover into high relief. I can’t tell you how many videos I’ve chosen not to share here just because the music struck me as too stale or predictable.