A brand new videopoem by writer (and former film major) James Brush demonstrating one way to make an effective video with a very short, enigmatic text, marrying Dickinson’s cosmic lines with some footage that is literally out of this world. James put up a blog post about it, which I’ll take the liberty of quoting in full:
This is a video I made for Emily Dickinson’s “Aurora is the effort.” I stumbled on the Jupiter aurora footage at ESA/Hubble and wanted to do something with it. I had Dickinson on my mind since we share a birthday, and I often find myself turning to her work around this time of year, so I started searching for aurora-related Dickinson poems and liked this one for its simplicity and unusual syntax and wording. The sounds are radio static and me rubbing the strings and hitting the back of a bass guitar with some effects from garage band.
I’ve been wanting to do a Dickinson poem for years and even have a concept for another one that maybe someday will get done. Thanks for watching.
For an interesting perspective on what Dickinson might’ve been up to in this poem, see Jed Deppman’s Trying to Think With Emily Dickinson (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008), p. 129 ff. (via Google Books). Deppman finds that “Aurora is the effort”
features the kind of deconstructive paradox that both defines and destabilizes many of Dickinson’s definition poems: the category of “the natural” transforms into the others that philosophers have always used to define it by opposition: the “social,” “cultural” and “artificial.” The specific terms the speaker uses to transform cosmology into cosmetics and make heaven’s two-facedness the basis of a definition under erasure derive in part from the idea—circulating in Amherst thanks to Transcendentalism, Ruskin, Hitchcock, and the Hudson River school—that nature mirros God’s consciousness, that, as Barton Levi St. Armand puts it, “the sensuous veil of nature is but a protective covering over the naked creative spirit of the universe.”
It’s worth reading the analysis in full to realize just how much meaning Dickinson could pack into her gnomic verses.
An animation by Lily Fang, part of the Poetry of Perception series for the Harvard University course Fundamentals of Neuroscience. Sarah Jessop provided the voiceover with music by Skillbard. The epigraph is by Igor Stravinsky: “I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I’ve felt it.”
An eight-part series (vimeo.com/channels/972301) on representations of perception and sensation made for fundamentalsofneuroscience.com. “Both artists and scientists strive, even if in different ways, toward the goal of discovering new uniformities or lawful regularities.” Hermann Helmholtz
This is Dickinson’s poem F477 (1862)/J315, translated into Dutch by J. Eijkelboom and into film by Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon, who says he began with an old reading he had made of the poem, building an experimental soundtrack around it.
The track was (except for the electronic ‘drumthumbs’ in the back) completely constructed out of (altered) sounds I made with my mouth. A fun experiment. For some reason the track worked quite well with that old recording. Maybe there was a short video in it too?
Keeping a similar kind of restriction as I did with the sounds, I wanted only one short piece of footage in the video; leaves.
The whole thing was created in one afternoon (and it probably shows), but I had fun doing so. Keeping it simple and fresh.
A fun inbetweenie stuffed between longer videos and ongoing projects.
To Flee From Memory is “A short film about being lost set to a poem by Emily Dickinson,” according to the director, Irish filmmaker Simon Eustace. Click through to Vimeo for a full list of credits. The voiceover is a bit quiet, so let me paste in the text of the poem:
To flee from memory
Had we the Wings
Many would fly
Inured to slower things
Birds with surprise
Would scan the cowering Van
Of men escaping
From the mind of man
Othniel Smith repurposes public-domain imagery from the Internet Archive to accompany Dickinson’s text, which was written in 1862, during the American Civil War.
I watched this when it was first uploaded to Vimeo two years ago, but for whatever reason didn’t share it then. Perhaps I felt it was too far from the spirit of the poem as I understood it. Be that as it may, however, I think it’s important as an international and pop-cultural interpretation of Dickinson, and also may help clarify some of the differences between the related genres of music video and videopoetry.
Los Angeles Movie Awards 2010 – Best Visual Effects in a music video, Award of Excellence
Canada International Film Festival 2010 – Royal Reel Award VSM 2010 festival – Special Recognition
Yach Film 2008 – Grand Prix nominee