Hybrid: a new collaborative video. The process of making it started with the original art by Marguerite de Mosa. Then came the music by SK123. Then finally the words, written by Nigel Wells in response to an early draft of the video. It’s a change in the order of how I usually put things together for a videopoem, and it was interesting trying things this way. Thanks to the great collaborators, Marguerite, Steve and Nigel, for working with me on this!
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.
‘You as tunnel’ a poem from The Poetry Storehouse by Rose Hunter, turned out to be the third remix of an accidental triptych I completed on abusive situations (the first was brother carried the poppies by Theresa Senato Edwards, and the second, Secrets by Ruth Foley.)
It took me more than one reading for this poem too to get at the narrative. After a poem on sexual abuse and one that referenced emotional abuse, I read this one as dealing with domestic violence. The language approach is clipped, condensed and stream-of-consciousness, but the overall impact for me was just as disturbing as the two previous ones.
For the remix, I returned to one of my favorite kinds of imagery – space imagery. I found a series of lovely clips of Jupiter and its moons at Video Blocks, and it didn’t take me long to put my own spin on the story. I re-imagined Jupiter as the brutish abuser around which all pivots, the victim as one of its moons caught in helpless orbit, and the second moon as their dark mutual secret, orbiting with them in silent complicity. With that as the ‘meta’ context, the mannequin clip represented the victim of violence at ground level for me – I saw the mannequin itself as representative of deadening of feeling needed for survival, the sunglasses as having connotations of hiding bruising and of obscuring vision, the headphones as attempt to escape into a different (aural) reality, and the broader head-shaking trajectory of the clip reflecting denial.
The soundtrack was easily picked here – something big and space-y yet with some sense of emotional alarm and general tension, which I found via Eric Hopton at Freesound.
Do read the rest. And if you’re a filmmaker or video remixer, don’t forget to visit The Poetry Storehouse whenever you’re looking for ideas for new projects. There are still many terrific poems there without video accompaniment, most with an audio version (sometimes two audio versions).
I’m pleased by my own small role in making this happen as managing editor of qarrtsiluni, where the poem first appeared in text form a month ago as the final piece in our Imitation issue, and as compiler of the podcast from which Swoon took the recording of Australian poet Matt Hetherington reading his poem. As we say in the note there, it was “inspired by the poetry of Ian McBryde, particularly his book of one-line poems, Slivers (Melbourne: Flat Chat Press, 2005).”
Swoon blogged some process notes:
I liked the poem and, even more so, his great reading of it for the podcast.
(People who follow my work know how important I think a good reading or voice is for a good videopoem)
I wanted to keep the pauses he made in his reading, so I didn’t change a thing.
Just added the right track […] and went on a search for the right footage or images. I needed empty houses and remembered a great video I once saw by someone who calls himself Tschmite. He gave me his consent to use footage of it.
I added some of my own recordings and also found amazing images in a series of films made by Graham Gilmore about Tsjernobyl.
I edited all I wanted and needed for the right atmosphere. Gave the words by Matt, the space and the room they needed to unfold themselves.
(Incidentally, I wish more videopoem/filmpoem makers would post such detailed descriptions of their process. It’s really helpful for those of us who are trying to learn the craft.)
Jason Lam directs. Other credits (since they aren’t given in the film) include performers Tara Robertson and Stuart Warren, and composer and sound designer Adam Synnott — this according to the description for another version of the film on Vimeo.
What Remains explores the uneasy zone between pleasure and pain; love and possession; connection and abandonment. We open up and another infiltrates virus-like, gets beneath our skin, modifies our form, redirects our blood stream.
Gareth Sion Jenkins is an Australian poet — see the bio at Mascara Literary Review.