Filmmaker: Ross Sutherland

Pythagoras in 60 Seconds by Ross Sutherland

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As part of Ross Sutherland‘s “30 Videos/30 Poems” digital residency at The Poetry School, he welcomed challenges from students. So Nick Halloway suggested that he try to fit a poem to this short film by Alan Kitching, and he succeeded brilliantly, I think, adding his reading on top of the original soundtrack (Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” from the opera La Gioconda) and managing to make it seem as if the animation had been created for the text rather than vice versa. I don’t know if Sutherland sought permission from Antics Animation to remix the film, but if not, I hope they don’t force him to take it down, because it’s a great example of ekphrastic videopoetry—while still illustrating the Pythagorean theorem as well as it did before.

555 by Ross Sutherland

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This is #29 in Ross Sutherland‘s “30 Videos/30 Poems” digital residency at The Poetry School. His description at Vimeo reads:

The relationship between screens and metaphor seemed like a good way to bring this residency towards a close.

How does TV like to portray itself? Short answer: usually as an oracle of some kind, or as a device to show a character’s inner thoughts. It’s right up there with “tortured protagonist looks in a cracked mirror.”

Although I know I’ve seen it a hundred times, these scenes are hard things to seek out on the web. If anyone can name any more, please comment below! I’d like to make a super-cut someday.

(Comment at Vimeo, not here, if you have suggestions for Ross.)

I wonder if anyone’s ever used footage of people watching videopoetry in a videopoem? Now that would be meta!

The Blockade by Ross Sutherland

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It’s time to check in on the progress of Ross Sutherland‘s “30 Videos/30 Poems” digital residency at The Poetry School. He’s uploaded 27 videos so far, and intends to finish by the end of this week. As promised, the videopoems in the series have been highly diverse, “exploring the different ways that the two mediums can shape and influence the other” in a wonderfully witty and experimental spirit—which means that even the ones that don’t wholly succeed are still instructive. I’d count this one as a success, a remix of a newscast from Irish television that offers one answer to the question: How the hell do you make a videopoem with a text describing another work of art? I’m not saying that’s quite what he’s done here, but that’s the pretense. The viewer is rewarded with a kind of double seeing, trying to picture the painting described by the museum-docent narrator while simultaneously re-evaluating the newscast in light of it.

To see Sutherland’s picks of his four favorite videos from the series so far, check out his April 29 blog post. He’s also archiving the videos on a Tumblr site.

No Table Anymore Wankers by Ross Sutherland

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Another of Ross Sutherland‘s quick-and-dirty videopoems for his “30 Videos/30 Poems” digital residency at The Poetry School. I love his process here. This is videopoeming at its purest:

A piece of graffiti I found on the side of the law courts in Newcastle (just around the corner from my hotel). I have no idea why anyone would write this (which automatically makes me want to write it myself). I quickly wrote down some notes in my jotter & tried to extend the moment a little bit longer.

I recorded image first, then sound after, then put the two back together.

Poem Looked Up On Google Streetview by Ross Sutherland

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Here’s an approach to videopoetry that I’ve never seen before: using Google Street View as a poetry prompt, then turning screen grabs of the prompt location into a visual accompaniment to a recitation of the poem. Or, as Ross Sutherland rather more eloquently explains it in the description on Vimeo:

Few years ago, I was commissioned to write a poem about “living in London and being a Londoner”.
I don’t live in London. But I also don’t like to disappoint people.

I took the little Google Streetview man, dropped him into London, then wrote about the street he landed in. The result was this poem, which ended up in my 2012 collection, Emergency Window.

The video was uploaded by The Poetry School, where Sutherland is currently the digital poet in residence.

For his residency – ’30 Videos / 30 Poems’ – Ross will create thirty new films over March to April 2015, while he tours across the UK with his show Standby For Tape Backup. Each new film will be a synthesis of poetry and video, exploring the different ways that the two mediums can shape and influence the other. Ross will use his residency to respond to the places he visits and the people he meets while on tour, hence, the project also doubles as a video diary of a working poet in the world.

This is the 10th (and latest) of these videos. (Watch the others on Vimeo.) In three additional videos, Sutherland “answers questions about his ’30 Poems / 30 Videos’ project, the distinctions between film poetry and poetry film, and what all this writing lark is about anyway.”

For more on Ross Sutherland, see his page at The Poetry Archive.