Nationality: Australia

Broken Words by Maria Vella

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A bilingual, Maltese and English videopoem by Maria Vella (words, music and animation) that first appeared in the Australian literary journal Going Down Swinging:

The poem is about my liminal experiences as an immigrant child, caught between the old world and the new world, but never belonging to either one. It is a poem about dual identities: the public one, with broken English, and my secret domestic one, with broken Maltese. ‘Broken Words’ explores the identity that emerges from the language that breaks us.

They include a bio:

Maria Vella was born in Qormi, Malta, in 1980 and immigrated with her parents and younger brother to Melbourne in 1983. She is a video poet, poet and visual artist. Her work has appeared in The Best Australian Poems, Overland and elsewhere. She is a PhD candidate and tutor at Deakin University in Geelong. She is currently working on a collection of bilingual poems.

Hat-tip: The Poetry Film Live group on Facebook.

Blue Moon by Ian Gibbins

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A recent video by Australian poet Ian Gibbins, made by panning along a single, huge, composite image, as he describes in some very helpful process notes:

The underlying sequence of buildings panning along to a beachscape is actually a single still image that I built in Photoshop. It is constructed from about 100 images of buildings around the Adelaide CBD, North Haven, and Brighton. They were photographed on days with bright sunshine and clear blue skies so that the lighting was comparable across the shots. Even so, I needed to adjust colour, brightness, saturation, scale, perspective and so on to get the visual mix right. The blue skies also allowed for easier compositing later on. In the final mix, the background sky was processed to be the same in all assemblies and was derived from the average sky colour in the images. The final Photoshop file is huge: 62,000 x 1800 pixels and about 500 MB. It was assembled from 5 smaller montages, each of which was from a specific location, and each of which contained dozens of layers.

I then took the final composite image into Final Cut Pro X and animated the pan from one end to the other. To save memory, I rendered it, and used the resulting video clip in the final composite. The sky with moving clouds is composited from three sets of vids I took all on the same day, but in slightly different parts of the sky so that the cloud movements were not quite the same. They are sped up and looped to varying degrees. The various flying objects are from a commercial image library that I animated. The final moonrise sequence is taken from the recent lunar eclipse we had (click here to see that). It is composited via an animated mask and a couple of other image processing tweaks. The whole lot was composited using colour keys, background colour gradients, key framed text and opacity animations.

The soundtrack is tin can, a performance I did as part of a Paroxysm Press tribute to David Bowie. The text is inspired by Bowie’s Space Oddity, Arthur C Clarke & Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and NASA’s Pioneer 10 / 11 space probes to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, with all due reference to Homer’s Odyssey. The music is derived from the chord pattern of Space Oddity. You might find a few other references as well…

Ian’s text also demonstrates, I think, why poets can benefit from greater scientific literacy. When was the last time you read or heard a poem about the moon that didn’t still act as if ours were the only moon in the sky?

Light Ghazal by Matt Hetherington

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Some gorgeous new work from Australian poetry-film collaborators Marie Craven (video concept, edit, effects) and Matt Hetherington (poem and voice), with music by Masonik and film sourced from Mono No Aware. Marie’s process notes (with links added):

‘Light Ghazal’ is the third video collaboration with poet, Matt Hetherington. From across the world, Dave Bonta put us in email contact for the first of these, ‘Orphanage‘. Since then Matt, who lives not far from me here in Australia, has been coming up this way to meet and collaborate in person. This process resulted in the second piece, ‘Everything sleeps but the night‘, and now this latest. It’s kind of radical for me to collaborate in the flesh these days, as most of my collaborations for the past decade, video and music alike, have been net-based. I welcome this recent development. For the soundtrack I selected ‘Inna Sky’ from the ‘Sutol’ album by Fremantle-based Masonik, whose sounds I have also worked with before in my poetry videos. The source footage for the image track is from Mono No Aware in New York, whose films are available on Creative Commons licence at Vimeo. I selected the sections of footage most fitting for this new video and created two layers on top of each other. This was so I could add dimensionality and fx to bring out the hand-processed film textures, as well as bring into sharper presence the ghostly, underlying images on the original film. I love hand-processed film. It seems to emphasise the direct chemical expression of light hitting celluloid and focus us on the materiality of that process. Thus the footage seemed especially relevant to the poem here, which is all about light.

Nailing Remembrance by Farkhonda Akbar

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A gorgeous poetry film by Jutta Pryor with music and sound production by Lisa Greenaway A.K.A. LAPKAT. Farkhonda Akbar, a poet from the Hazara ethnic group in Afghanistan, writes:

It was midnight in Melbourne when I wrote Nailing Remembrance after feeling a cold fire burning in me. I had just finished reading about the journey of a girl from my valley in Afghanistan in the late 1800s. A princess turned into a slave, she was elegant and in-love, layered and lonely, resilient and secretive. Besides the brutal political context of the time and her painful destiny, this poem is capturing her layers of inner feelings, sense of loss, vibrant and violent moments of the time and the strength in her struggle. Nailing Remembrance is a window into the museum of a forcefully forgotten self.

The Old Shopping Trolley Told Me by Brendan Bonsack

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A minimalist, author-made videopoem by Brendan Bonsack, “Filmed on location at The Merri Merri, Melbourne/Narrm, Australia.” Here’s the text. I thought this would make an interesting contrast to yesterday’s video by Ian Gibbins: also an author-made videopoem from Australia, but there the resemblance pretty much ends… except, I think, for the crucial role of the soundtrack in both.

Heist by Ian Gibbins

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A strangely compelling videopoem by Australian poet, composer and retired scientist Ian Gibbins. I say “strangely” because, after watching it twice, I still have no idea what it’s about… but I’m eager to watch it again! I particularly liked the use of computer code-like text on screen, which reminded me of what Gibbins did with mathematical notation in “accidentals (recalculated).” It also made me think of the WordPress slogan “Code is Poetry,” which I’ve always struggled with because the converse (“poetry is code”) is an unfortunately fairly widespread perception that prevents so many people from simply enjoying poetry, feeling instead that it’s a puzzle to be solved. That said, “Heist” does seem to tease certain detective-story sensibilities. Here’s the précis on Vimeo:

// * Calculating_our_options, we_talked_about * //
> C:\ [Raid 1] clandestine_surveillance, sleeplessness;
> D:\ [Raid 2] digital_account_protocols, stolen_cars;
> E:\ [Raid 3] handwritten_code, avarice_and_betrayal {who_is_working_the_numbers, keeping_track_of_time?};
> V:\ [Raid 4] execution, small_arms_fire (countersunk_beleaguered); {will_there_be_backup_when_we_are_zeroed_to_baseline?}.

This is one of two videos of Gibbins’ to be screened last weekend at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival in Athens.

UPDATE (1/25/18): At my suggestion, Gibbins has blogged about the video: “heist: what’s going on here?” I’m finding it difficult to excerpt the post since the whole thing is worth reading, so please just click through and read it.

12 Sights of the Sea by Ian Gibbins

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A new version of a videopoem by Ian Gibbins, transferring the majority of the text, which had been entirely on-screen on an earlier version, into a voice-over. I find this approach much more effective, though the earlier version is undoubtedly more accessible to the deaf (and possibly also to the dyslexic). Here’s the Vimeo description:

… the rippling enfoldment, across the ebb, failure below deck, only By-the-Wind-Sailors … text originally published in Cordite 45: Silence (2014)… images and sounds recorded from the seas and islands around the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia.

Be sure to follow Ian’s blog to keep up with all his video- and music-making. He claims to be retired, but the evidence strongly suggests otherwise.