Der Erlkönig (The Erlking) by Goethe

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A wonderfully haunting illustration of the Goethe poem by multimedia artist Raymond Salvatore Harmon, whose write-up on the Vimeo page is worth quoting in full:

Goethe’s poem of gothic horror has haunted me most of my life. As a child I found the poem in a collection of books at an estate auction. I read it over and over, fascinated by this idea of the fairy realm as dark and ugly, something sinister that we should fear – not the glamour and sparkle of modern fairy tales. A warning about things that haunt old woods and black forests.

The bits and pieces, techniques and layers used to create this film are many. Dozens of forms of manipulation have been brought together, from animation to live action, from drawings to rotoscoping. This is my homage to Starewicz, Svankmajer, and the Quays – their dark dreams have inspired my nightmares, have given birth to a generation who see the eyes in the forest and know that all that is fairy is not light.

For more on the figure of the Erlking, see the Wikipedia. For a decent translation, see Robert Bly’s version, “The Invisible King.”

Counting the Moons by Ksetrayya

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“A North and South Indian classical dancer collaborate to evoke love, loss, and the slippery relationships between self, friend, and lover, in this contemporary abhinaya (emotional expression) piece loosely inspired by a poem by the 17th century Telegu poet, Ksetrayya,” says the blurb on the Vimeo page. Since I’ve featured a number of other dance pieces here, I thought I’d add this one to the mix. The poem quote goes by rather quickly in the video, so here it is again:

I wore myself out watching the road.
Counting the moons, I grieved,
Holding back a love I could not hold.

Telugu is a Dravidian language spoken by 95 million people in the state of Andhra Pradesh and adjacent areas of south India. Kshetrayya, a prolific composer and poet, is credited with the composition of some 4000 devotional (bhakti) poems to Krishna.

He perfected the padam format that is still being used today. His padams are sung in dance (Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi) and music recitals. A unique feature of his padams is the practice of singing the anupallavi first then the pallavi (second verse followed by first verse). Most of the padams are of the theme of longing for the coming of the lord Krishna.

Drops of Rain by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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According to the Vimeo page, this is

A video poem using the text of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins from a journal entry he wrote in 1866. Video by Jym Davis. Featuring William Haun and Kenny Jensen. Filmed at Fontana Dam in North Carolina.

Davis, Haun and Jensen make up the collective known as Interlace Video, which focuses on experimental music video. Also, check out Jym Davis’ website.

The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake

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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).

Transborder Immigrant Tool – Transition by Amy Sara Carroll

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

Winding by Christine Swint, Jo Hemmant, and Michelle McGrane

This video poem was the result of a unique intercontinental collaboration between Christine Swint in Atlanta, Jo Hemmant in England, and Michelle McGrane in South Africa, and was published in Qarrtsiluni’s collaborative-themed issue Mutating the Signature earlier this year. Go there for the text of the poem and a detailed description of the process.

Animal Bibles by Rönnog Seaberg

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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.