“Gaps in the fog allow a look inside: A foreign environment, observing trees and falling birds.” Melissa Harms (A.K.A. MelissaMariella) directs and animates a text by Ukrainian-German poet Yevgeniy Breyger in this film from the Lab P project’s 2014 series. (The films were kept off the web for a couple of years, which is why I’m only getting around to sharing them now.)
This stunning German poetry film from poet Stefan Petermann and director Juliane Jaschnow is the Film of the Month at Poetryfilmkanal, where it’s written up (in English) by Marc Neys AKA Swoon. He calls attention to
A poem that seems written for the film rather than the other way around. Unless they came together in the process of the making and collaboration, in which case they did a perfect job reinforcing each other ideas. The poem seems to struggle to comply with the imposed visual frame and rubs frantically against the borders of that frame. Like a caged animal looking for a way out. That struggle makes the poem stronger and gives it a strong sense of urge. A narrative poem full of imagination is visually retranslated in an original way.
Ivan Stanev‘s Totleben TV project presents “news from yesterday,” but this is avant-garde remix videopoetry at its most relevant. The latest episode features fragments of footage of Mussolini, and it seemed appropriate for this day after the US election, for some reason.
Here’s the complete description of this video from the website:
Livestream from Todessa
Cast: Totleb & Co.
Soundmix: Todonsky Junior
Directed by: T.L.
©Ivan Stanev. All Rights Reserved
archive.org; freesound.org; Benito Mussolini
Born in 1959 in Varna (Bulgaria). Author. Director. Stanev grew up bilingual, attending a German boarding school. He has been writing poetry, prose, plays and aesthetic treatises since his childhood, which could never be published in Bulgaria. From 1978 to 1980 he was in military service, then studied directing at the Academy of Drama, Directing and Theater Science in Sofia, at the same time studying philosophy.
Rilke’s “primordial tower” (uralten Turm) is given literal shape in this otherwise wonderfully suggestive film of a video installation based on the famous poem from the Book of Hours. The film, directed by the artist Pat van Boeckel, takes a kind of call-and-response approach—which seems highly appropriate, given the subject matter—by having a voiceover of the poem at the very beginning (with the English translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows in subtitles), followed by the installation in a kind of reverse ekphrasis. According to the Vimeo description, the installation was “Made for art project Internationales Waldkunst in Darmstadt.” Max Richter composed the music.
A film by Marc Neys (AKA Swoon) using a poem by the contemporary German poet Steffen Popp. The poet’s recitation and the English translation by Christian Hawkey were sourced from Lyrikline. The choice to have the untranslated audio version first, followed by the translation as text-on-screen, is unusual, but I think it works, echoed as it is by the vertically split screen. It does mean, however, that more than two-thirds of the film is devoted to the slower-moving English version.
When is a sound poem a found poem? When it’s Marie Osmond Explains Dadaism with Auto-Subtitles, one of the latest uploads by UK videopoet Ross Sutherland as past of his 30 Videos/30 Poems project for the Poetry School. He’s been doing some really interesting stuff with remix, swapping in his own voice-overs for existing videos, but in this case all he’s done is share the results of turning on the auto-subtitling function for a YouTube video of Marie Osmund explaining Dada and reciting Hugo Ball‘s “Karawane.” The software’s “misreadings” are at times wonderfully apropos. And then there’s Marie, in her yellow bathrobe and 80s hair… I don’t think I’ve gotten this much joy from a web video since Cat Wearing A Shark Costume Cleans The Kitchen On A Roomba.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, why in the heck was Marie Osmond holding forth on Dada and and sound poetry? It turns out she was a regular host of the TV show Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in its 2nd series, which ran from 1982-86 on the American ABC Network. The TV show derived from a long-running syndicated feature in American newspapers—kind of the original “news of the weird.” According to the Wikipedia article,
Character actor Jack Palance hosted the popular series throughout its run, while three different co-hosts appeared from season to season, including Palance’s daughter, Holly Palance, actress Catherine Shirriff, and singer Marie Osmond. The 1980s series reran on the Sci-fi Channel (UK) and Sci-fi Channel (US) during the 1990s.
Six of the segments hosted by Osmond have been uploaded to YouTube, including another one about a poet, Renée Vivien. I’m not sure who the director was for this particular show (which apparently aired on 29 September 1985), but it didn’t go unnoticed. According to a post at Dangerous Minds,
In 1993, Rough Trade records put out Lipstick Traces, a “soundtrack” to the book by Greil Marcus. It’s one of my favorite CDs of all time, with tracks by The Slits, Essential Logic, The Raincoats, The Mekons, Buzzcocks, The Gang of Four, Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers, Situationist philosopher Guy Debord and others. It’s an amazing collection, but one track in particular stands out from the rest, a recitation by none other than Marie Osmond, of Dada poet Hugo Ball’s nonsensical gibberish piece from 1916, “Karawane.”
The post goes on to quote the liner notes from Lipstick Traces:
As host of a special (Ripley’s Believe It or Not) show on sound poetry, Osmond was asked by the producer to recite only the first line of Ball’s work; incensed at being thought too dumb for art, she memorized the lot and delivered it whole in a rare “glimpse of freedom.”
Great upload and interesting video, but Ripley didn’t appear to get their dada facts quite right…
‘Karawane’ was performed and written by Hugo Ball, and was also performed in 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich as the video says. But his costume for that show was a kind of ‘Cubist’ tube-esque costume made from different coloured sheets. It can be easily found in images online.
The ’13’ costume discussed in the video was worn by Theo Van Doesburg, not Hugo Ball, in 1922 when he performed ‘Does At Mid-Lent’ at the Bauhaus.
This info is from the book ‘Dada’ edited by Rudolf Kuenzli. As a product of its time, though, this clip is fascinating.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that this is not quite the strangest video of “Karawane” on the web. That honor belongs to Lucas Battich’s binary code translation. Still, kudos to Ross Sutherland for recognizing the re-Dadaifying potential of YouTube auto-subtitling.