In this new videopoem by Steven McCabe, the text is presented in silent-film-style title cards, and in three different versions in succession: the first in English, the second in French and the third in Spanish. (Pierre L’Abbé is credited with the French translation and Beatriz Hausner with the Spanish.) Especially for monolingual English viewers, it’s interesting that repetition does not necessarily lead to increasing familiarity, but rather a kind of defamiliarization. As with certain K-pop music video mega-hits on YouTube, not knowing what all the words mean can actually add to the charm of a short film sometimes.
Speaking of music: Brenda Joy Lem did the fantastic drumming in the soundtrack. In a blog post introducing the video, McCabe writes:
We originally filmed and recorded the drumming over two years ago for a different project which never saw the light of day. In the meantime I become interested in juxtaposing silent footage with live action. I realized we could use silent movie title cards for the poetry and not compete with the sound of drumming. The poem Transfiguration was originally published in my 1999 collection Radio Picasso (watershedBooks). My poetry videos can be found @ http://www.youtube.com/mccabesteven
This film offers more proof that Steven McCabe is one of the most accomplished videopoets out there. Here’s the description on Youtube:
outside my black hole (2011) is a visual poetry film juxtaposing urban traffic, ink drawings, and dance.
Screened at Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts (Toronto) in Oct./Nov. 2011 as the installation component of Steven McCabe’s exhibition A Cathartic Document showing 66 new ink drawings created during 2010-2011.
Video editing & technical support @ A Cathartic Document by Konrad Skręta
outside my black hole
A film by Steven McCabe
Music composed and performed by
William Beauvais & Barry Prophet
Director of Photography
The poems are “Speed-dial a Rainbow,” “Bough,” and “Salome’s Veil.” McCabe directs with cinematography by Eric Gerard and editing by Konrad Skreta.
The most ambitious film by a poet for his own poem I’ve yet seen. It even has its own website; go there for the complete credits. Here’s McCabe’s description of the poem and the project:
At the moment of the fatal shots Jacqueline Kennedy was seen fleeing into prehistory, dancing ritualistically, time-traveling to the wild-west and documenting landscape. The film’s running time of 11:22 mirrors the date of the events precipitating the film’s thematic concerns.
‘My Story is Not My Own’ intertwines art forms; featuring four performers (including two dancers), narrators reciting poetry, one singer chanting Javanese-inspired incantations, electronic-ambient music and ‘found’ Super 8 footage from Kashmir in the 1960s.
The film blends scenes of journey, intimations of ritual, emotionality and American political history within an overarching sense of earth’s mystery. Personal and national grief juxtapose with archival footage of distant landscapes evoking a sense of loss.
Archetypal images of grief pervade the film’s imagery via the symbols of starfish, stones and veils. A mythological texture envelops the various manifestations of the ‘widow.’
Wearing her pink outfit, from that tragic day in 1963, she bursts through a saloon’s swinging wooden doors followed by the swelling ocean crashing wildly in faded footage. Linked to nature her story is truly not only her own.
‘One string snaps, this is the sound of what was new, and the oldest vibration of all, following its twin.’
‘My Story is Not My Own’ is a first film from a poet remembering the ‘feeling’ of November, 1963. Watching black & white TV with his mother nearby tending to small children. The film makes an unspoken connection between chemical attacks on the jungles of Vietnam which soon followed and the spirituality of disappeared Neolithic culture.