This video really adds to my appreciation of the William Blake poem. I’m not sure who put it together, but it’s one of a number of video poems from the Catalan literature site Blocs de Lletres (whence the Catalan subtitles).
This is one of a series of videos from Transborder Immigrant Tool: Mexico/U.S Border Disturbance Art Project, an initiative to give GPS technology to economic refugees from Mexico trying to enter the United States. The video uses imagery from the Virtual Hiker Algorithm, a video game-like GPS application for mobile phones developed by one of the members of the project. As the About page explains:
The border between the U.S. and Mexico has moved between the virtual and the all too real since before the birth of the two nation-states. This has allowed a deep archive of suspect movement across this border to be traced and tagged – specifically anchoredto immigrants bodies moving north, while immigrant bodies moving south much less so. The danger of moving north across this border is not a question of politics, but vertiginous geography. Hundreds of people have died crossing the U.S./Mexico border due to not being able to tell where they are in relation to where they have been and which direction they need to go to reach their destination safely. Now with the rise of multiple distributed geospatial information systems (such as the Google Earth Project for example), GPS (Global Positioning System) and the developing Virtual Hiker Algorithm by artist Brett Stalbaum it is now possible to develop useful Transborder Tools for Immigrants – and allow virtual geography to mark new trails and potentially safer routes across this desert of the real.
An article in MobileActive.org gives additional information on the technical aspects of the project.
For the text of the poem, see the blog post, which also supplies the following context and credits:
Video exhibited in ‘Space is the Place’ exhibition at the Gallery of the National College of Art & Design in Dublin, as part of the program of ISEA 2009 which takes place in Belfast and Dublin Ireland this year. The exhibition will run from the 27th August – 1st September 2009.
Text of poems: Amy Sara Carroll
Video poems design: Ricardo Dominguez, Micha Cárdenas, and Elle Mehrmand
Voices included in the poems: Micha Cárdenas, Amy Sara Carroll, Césaire Carroll-Dominguez, Patrick Carroll, and Ricardo Dominguez
Collaborative inspiration: Brett Stalbaum
Swedish-American poet Rönnog Seaberg and her husband Steve Seaberg invented what they called acrobatic poetry. Rönnog isn’t in this performance, and I’m guessing that’s because it happened after her death in 2007. Steve has posted a number of videos of their acrobatic poems on YouTube and on Vimeo, which houses the nude ones. The acrobats in this performance are Steve Seaberg, Mark Wolfe and Ashkey Winnig. You can find the text of the poem on the Vimeo page.
The Seabergs and their frequent collaborator Mark Wolfe spoke to Art Interview magazine in 2005. Here’s a snippet:
Rönnog Seaberg: […] We have a group now that basically consists of 3 people; Steve, Mark and I and we have an outer circle of people who also appear with us here in Atlanta. We take my poetry, which I recite, and we illustrate it and enhance it with acrobatics to make a visual still life.
Steve Seaberg: It’s like how an illustrator illustrates a poem in a book or how William Blake wrote his own poetry and illustrated it as well. There are all sorts of techniques for doing that. We use 3 dimensional space for our illustration. The poetry, instead of being printed, is actually read by Rönnog so it is a real event and we then perform the illustrations for the poem, which often are acrobatic but not necessarily so. Sometimes we simply pose in positions that seem related to or illustrative of the poem. Her poetry is often divided into verses and each verse we do with different poses. There might be three, four, five, verses to an entire poem. So it’s a series of tableaus. Sometimes it might seem like we are imitating art but we’re not. We’re composing the work ourselves but some of the poses of course are comments on or are taken from or inspired by sculpture going back in the whole history of art. We comment upon things that people do, ways of relating to each other in space. Some are more complicated acrobatically and take quite a bit of training and practice to do. Our goal is to create an image. I guess it is something like talking sculpture. But we have also had people who work with us who do movements. Recently we worked with some dancers.
Rönnog Seaberg: And we also add music quite often with live instruments.
Steve Seaberg: A couple of times we have done this with musicians. They sort of softly improvise while we read the poetry. That is always wonderful, it’s lots of fun to do.
Some poems inspire many YouTube videos, and “My Papa’s Waltz,” by Theodore Roethke, is one of them. This is the only video though that seemed worth sharing here, despite a foreshortened ending. The nicely non-literal mesh of of Roethke’s recording with public-domain footage from archive.org really works for me. Video by epittsburgh.
Here’s a film based on one of Alejandra Pizarnik’s “Dialogues,” which I’ve translated below along with the prefatory text. According to the hard-to-read credits at the end, the director is Carlos Martinez. I love the evocation of classic horror films here.
The rain is expected to pass.
Winds are expected to blow in.
Through love to silence, they say pathetic things.
I wish they’d leave me alone with my new, fresh voice.
No! Don’t leave me!
Words to illuminate the silence.
[Un cuento memorable/A memorable story]
—That black one that laughs from the small window of a streetcar resembles Madame Lamort —she said.
—That’s not possible; there are no streetcars in Paris. Besides, that black one on the streetcar doesn’t resemble Madame Lamort in any way. Quite the opposite: it’s Madame Lamort who resembles that black one. In sum: not only does Paris lack streetcars, but I have never seen Madame Lamort in my life, not even in a portrait.
—You agree with me —she said— because I don’t know Madame Lamort either.
—Who are you? We should introduce ourselves.
—Madame Lamort —she said— and you?
—Your name, I can’t think what it reminds me of —she said.
—Try to remember before the streetcar comes.
—But you just told me there were no streetcars in Paris —she said.
—They didn’t exist when I said it, but one never knows what might come to pass.
—Then let’s wait for it, since we’re waiting for it —she said.