This was a lot of fun, and it was a delight to finally collaborate on something with Marie. After an email volley, I started the soundtrack before seeing the rough cut. I was very taken with the images in the timeline as the edit evolved, and they most definitely influenced definition of touch points in the composition, and the final mix was done to picture. So, half free-form, half score. Anyway, indeed, lots of fun. Looking forward to the next one.
And Craven responded:
It was a highly collaborative process, this one, with very regular emails back and forth between Australia and USA, and various drafts of sound and video. Deon is fantastic and I feel honoured to have been invited to participate. I too am hoping for more collaborations together in future.
She added in an email that they had known each other online and appreciated each other’s electronic music projects for a couple of years.
I asked Craven about her experience adding the closed captioning. She initially tried Amara at my recommendation, but found it somewhat tricky to work with and switched to the other subtitling service Vimeo mentions in their FAQs, Dotsub. “I mainly found it easier to work with in regard to timings of subtitles,” she said. She also made the decision to remove most punctuation and capitalization for easier reading, which strikes me as the right approach for any poem following the old-fashioned convention of capitalizing the first word of each line. In general, I think it’s interesting to compare the decisions made in captioning or subtitling a videopoem which has the poem in the soundtrack, as this one does, with what happens in videopoems that rely solely on text on the screen to convey the poem. With captions or subtitles, ease of comprehension tends to take center stage, whereas when the poem is a graphic element it’s OK — perhaps even essential — to make the viewer work a bit harder to take it in. In either case, it’s a good bet that the filmmaker gains a unique perspective on the poetic text from working so hard to translate it into another medium. “I always love hearing the words over and over so many times while editing,” Craven said.
The footage here was sourced from a public-domain film at the Prelinger Archives, RFD Greenwich Village (1969 circa) — a clothing advertiser’s view of a tamed Bohemia that makes a particularly good fit with Shelley’s poem, I think:
Lift not the painted veil which those who live
Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there,
And it but mimic all we would believe
With colours idly spread…
Finally, Marie tells me that the poem has been selected to screen at the Athens International Film Poetry Festival in December, so congratulations to her and Deon for a successful collaboration that breathes new life into a 19th-century classic.
A poem by American poet Derek J.G. Williams, translated into video by Australian vocalist and media maker Marie Craven with the help of Dementio13 (music) and the Prelinger Archives (footage). The reading is by Nic S. for the Poetry Storehouse, where Craven found the poem. She also credits the POOL group on Facebook, “an open creative community group engaged in shared media conversations,” which seems to be playing an increasingly important role in videopoem collaboration around Poetry Storehouse material.
Two different video remixes of footage from the Prelinger Archives using a text by Janeen Rastall sourced from The Poetry Storehouse. While neither is a perfect video (both end too soon and too abruptly for my taste, for example), I think each is interesting, and together they show how approaches can diverge even when using largely the same material and techniques. Both are black and white with a 4:3 aspect ratio, last for 51 or 52 seconds with a cut every 6-10 seconds, and intersperse moments of allusiveness or departure from the text with moments of more literal illustration. But while Othniel Smith seized upon the goddess imagery in the title and first line, Marie Craven took the bursting seeds of the second line as her point of departure. They also differ in their soundtracks, Smith opting to use the poet’s own reading without accompaniment and Craven mixing Nic S.’s reading with music by SK123.