Nationality: United States

Learning about inch worms by Simply Sylvio

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I figured it would only be a matter of time before someone created a viral videopoem on Vine. (This has also been uploaded to YouTube.) The author, Simply Sylvio, is “Vine’s first avant-garde gorilla,” according to Mashable.

Sylvio’s Vine feed is a treasure chest of drama, comedy, animation and abstract art, all in the form of six-second looping videos. He’s taken a cinematic approach on the platform, showcasing his travels and everyday routines for his 300,000 followers.

Sylvio doesn’t speak, but he once wrote to us: “Vine became the perfect way to capture all of the small, quiet moments on the road that would otherwise have been lost.”

Sylvio himself may not claim that this is a videopoem, but I think it fits the classic, Konyvesian definition to a T.

Presented as a multimedia object of a fixed duration, the principal function of a videopoem is to demonstrate the process of thought and the simultaneity of experience, expressed in words — visible and/or audible — whose meaning is blended with, but not illustrated by, the images and the soundtrack.

The playful manipulation of a Google search recalls the screenshot poetry of Google Poetics. The search acquires a certain pathos, the frantic flailing of the eponymous inchworm remaining open to interpretation no matter how often we re-watch it on Vine’s infinite loop. Given that inchworms are also commonly referred to as loopers, there may also be a certain self-reflexivity at work.

I do think it’s better with the sound off, though. That’s just cheesy.

You Will Drown For Poems by R.A. Villanueva

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Based on a poem by U.S. poet R.A. Villanueva, this was commissioned by London’s 2015 Dance Film Festival UK—”a collaboration between the dancer/choreographer, Julie Ann Minaai, and Garrett and Garrett, a brother-sister team of filmmakers,” as Villanueva told me via email. Michael and Katie Garrett work for a variety of clients, but according to the Dance Film Festival UK website,

their real passion lies in filmmaking for the arts, particularly, poetry, dance and music. They have won several awards for their dance and poetry pieces as well as producing a documentary which won the Channel 4 short documentary award at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival. […]

The piece “You will drown for poems” is a continuation of their love of collaborative arts projects and mixes poetry with movement for the screen. The key theme in this piece is that of the migrant artist and it reflects upon the importance of one’s work as a link to home and sense of belonging.

I’ve seen a lot of innovative dance-centered poetry films over the years, but this is the first aquatic one that I can remember, and Julie Ann Minaai‘s choreography takes full advantage of the dream-like movement of fabric and diffuse lighting available underwater. The evocative music is credited to Cato Hoeben. As for the poem, it originally appeared in Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry, and carries the dedication “for Dennis Kim, 1983-2005.”

Double Life in REM State by Cindy St. Onge

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A Swoon (Marc Neys) videopoem using a text from the Poetry Storehouse by Cindy St. Onge. Marc used footage by Jan Eerala, Videoblocks and Grant Porter, and says:

Double Life in REM State […] has all the dreamlike quality and strange reality that I look for in a poem. […] The poem was perfect for text on screen (and I love the line ‘Dreams are always about the dreamer’)
I started collecting footage for certain lines (insects, animals, nature, movement, and a few haunting ones)

Meanwhile I also began working on a fitting soundtrack;
[Bandcamp link]

Once I had all my building blocks, I could start ‘composing’.
Image by image, placing lines, adjusting pace,…

It’s what I call fun.

Undersong by Stacey Lynn Brown

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Motionpoems’ latest, a Vimeo Staff Pick, is a pencil animation by Matt Smithson A.K.A. man vs magnet of a poem by Stacey Lynn Brown. Yaa Asantewa provided the voiceover and Joshua Smoak composed the music.

“Citizen journalist” Jeannie E. Roberts conducted interviews for Motionpoems with both the poet and the filmmaker—check them out. Brown says, in part:

“Undersong” is both an elegy and an ode to the poet Jake Adam York, who died at the age of 40 in December 2012. Jake was a poet of extraordinary depth, courage, wisdom, and empathy. His life’s work, a project entitled “Inscriptions for Air,” was an excavation of race and involved writing an elegy for every single man, woman, and child who were martyred in the Civil Rights Movement. He was a white man from Alabama who confronted the challenges and implications and devastation of racism head on, and the literary world is so much richer for his work—and so much more bereft for the work that will not follow.

Poetry is, in many ways, the only language I have at my disposal to say certain things, and this poem is an example of that. As a poet from the South, I wanted to pay homage to the visual landscape that connected us, to evoke the places we’re both from in an effort to encapsulate origin while memorializing just how far from there we journeyed in our thoughts and actions and words.

And Smithson’s description of his process is extremely impressive:

The process of creating the Motionpoem for “Undersong” was two-fold. Once I had decided on a direction and concept, I spent quite a bit of time researching specific locations that I felt best captured the visual quality described in the poem. Traveling through the South, through rural Virginia, North and South Carolina, West Virginia, and Kentucky, I filmed a variety of places, people, and details that I planned to use in the creation of this Motionpoem. Not every piece of footage was used, but this process helped further connect me to many of the places Stacey Lynn Brown describes, places echoing with a storied past.

The process I used to create the visual style of this Motionpoem involved the labor intensive process of tracing each image by hand to give the piece a handmade quality. Using the filmed footage as a starting point for most of the scenes, I merged the reality with my stylized interpretation, taking creative liberty in the development of each moment.

Read the rest.

Normalization of Deviance by Charlotte Pence

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A new film by artist and poet Dave Richardson using a text and reading by Charlotte Pence. As the Vimeo description notes, “Normalization of Deviance” appears in Pence’s collection Many Small Fires, just out from Black Lawrence Press.

It’s Complicated by Jade Graves

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A love story with a surprise ending from teenage videopoet Jade Graves. This is one of several more videos uploaded to Vimeo by Media Poetry Studio since we ran Erica Goss’s report on the videopoetry summer camp in Moving Poems Magazine.

The Essence of Instinct by Robert Peake

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The first use of Google Deep Dream technology for poetry film of which I’m aware. American-British poet and filmmaker Robert Peake worked with his usual collaborator, Valerie Kampmeier, who created the soundscape. Robert shared some process notes (along with the text of poem) on his blog:

This film-poem began as an exploration of the possibilities of using Google Deep Dream technology for film. I ran the Deep Dream software on frames of time-lapse clouds. Initial experiments were not deterministic enough, flickering wildly between very different images from frame to frame. I then composited dreamed-upon frames with their siblings to create a kind of motion blur frame, which when dreamed upon a second time created greater continuity both of movement and shape. To create further continuity, I also morphed various dream frames into each other.

The process is an attempt to simulate pareidolia — the phenomenon whereby we “recognise” patterns in random data, which is very much what Deep Dream is doing here, and what we humans do when we see shapes in clouds. The solid, iridescent imagery reminded me of William Blake, but the constantly-changing nature of these creatures made me think of the evolution of species. In researching Charles Darwin’s early life, the poem took shape. Valerie then designed the soundscape to accompany and complete this piece, drawing on her own childhood experience of hearing distant, indistinct voices.

To see more of Robert’s experiments with Deep Dream and morphing technologies, check out his recent uploads to Vimeo.

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