Sound poetry and concrete poetry elude most efforts at translation — except for translation into videopoetry, as in this new release from Ottar Ormstad, Taras Mashtalir and Alexander Vojjov. I’m sure knowing Norwegian would add layers of meaning but even without that, I found the visualization of names as planetary objects or one-celled organisms intriguing and delightful. Here’s the Vimeo description:
NAVN NOME NAME (2016) is based on Ottar Ormstad’s “telefonkatalogdiktet” (‘the phonebook poem’). It is his third book of concrete poetry, published in Norway by Samlaget (2006). For this language research project, Ormstad read (!) the phonebook of Oslo 2004 and selected names on a poetic basis. In the book, the names are presented visually as concrete poetry. Most of the names are strongly connected to Norwegian and describe phenomena in nature.
NAVN NOME NAME is the second work of a collection of video poems created by the Norwegian-Russian duo OTTARAS (Ottar Ormstad and Taras Mashtalir) in collaboration with Russian video artist Alexander Vojjov. In the video, Ormstad reads names selected by the Russian-American composer Mashtalir. Through this work, Norwegian language turns into international sound poetry. Ormstad’s collection of family names present in Oslo’s phonebook at the time of reading are exposed and read by the author while performing to Mashtalir’s pulsating music. Is everyone connected to each other in the sphere that is shaping before the viewer’s eyes? How do names and language relate to the atmospheric scapes Vojjov creates of numbers, geometric forms and abstract shapes?
NAVN NOME NAME exists in different versions made for screening and live performance. Raising awareness of electronic poetry and sonic ecology, attracting new audience to a potent yet to come genre is the inspiration for this collaboration.
The video is produced in HD 16:9 in color, stereo.
Duration: 06:05 mins
Animation: Alexander Vojjov
Music: Taras Mashtalir
Concrete poetry, voice & production: Ottar Ormstad
© Ottar Ormstad 2016
This may be my favorite Kristian P./Gasspedal animated poetry film yet. It was just released from password protection on Vimeo a week ago after a three-year tour of film festivals. It premiered at the Norwegian publishing house Gyldendal in 2013 on what would have been Tor Ulven’s 60th birthday. Here’s the description from Vimeo (italics mine):
Everything disappears. Recordings of our voices will become archeological remains, and a spinning record yields fossil waves. Waves is based on three poems by Tor Ulven.
Tor Ulven (1953–1995):
Ulven made his debut as a poet in 1977, with the poetry collection Skyggen av urfuglen (Shadows of the Primordial Bird). Today, Ulven’s works enjoy an iconic status, and his poetry and prose have been translated into English, German, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Russian and other languages.
Words & voice by Tor Ulven
Design & animation by Kristian P.
Produced by Audun Lindholm & Harald Fougner
Based on three poems from Ulven’s poetry collection Forsvinningspunkt (Vanishing Point), Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1981.
I used her reading to create this soundtrack [SoundCloud link]. For the visual part of the video I wanted a strong contrast between blurry images of light (filmed at an exhibition on the history of light design) and extreme close ups of human skin and hair. Trying to create a mix of sensuality and a weird sensation of fright. Alienated.
Nic S. has also made a video with this text, using her own voice in the soundtrack, but I can see why Swoon chose Jægtnes’ reading: she’s the rare example of a poet who’s also an excellent interpreter of her own work—which is especially impressive considering that English is, I assume, not her first language. She is the translator too, I think: the Poetry Storehouse bio indicates that she’s published a collection of English translations of prose poems drawn from her first two Norwegian collections.
This was the winner of Goethe Institute Film Prize at the 2014 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, where the animator, Kristian Pedersen, also had an exhibition and gave a talk, which I attended. One thing I learned that really impressed me is that the producer of Pedersen’s wonderful series of abstract animations, Gasspedal, does not view them as trailers or promotional tools for its chapbooks but as important publications in their own right — hence the creation of a separate division, Gasspedal Animert. A very forward-thinking publisher!
The poet and reader is Øyvind Rimbereid, who was also in attendance at ZEBRA and gave a reading of this and several other poems from a cycle of poems about the organ, accompanied by the Babylon Theater’s old silent-movie organ. In the video, Nils Henrik Asheim plays on an old pump organ with live electronic effects.
Written for the opening of the Stavanger Concert hall and its custom built organ, The Pipes is an ode to industrial history – the former backbone of the city’s economic and social life.
One of Norway’s most celebrated poets, Øyvind Rimbereid (b. 1966) made his debut in 1993 with the short story collection Det har begynt (It has begun). His poetry collections Herbarium (2008) and Jimmen (2011) both earned nominations for the Nordic Council prize for literature. Rimbereid is the only Norwegian poet to be awarded the Critics’ Prize twice, for Solaris korrigert (2004) and Orgelsjøen (2013).