A new, text-on-screen-style videopoem by Australian artist Marie Craven using a text by American poet Eric Blanchard and sections of three hand-processed, experimental films. Craven recently shared some process notes as a part of a blog post about her recent videopoetry remixes.
After putting together a first videopoem last year based on the poetry of Eric Blanchard, I went exploring more of his writing to be found on the web. I was especially drawn to a prose poem called ‘The Meeting Ran Long‘, published in Literary Orphans. The piece created for me a sense of daydreaming in an empty room in a transitional moment of solitude, evoking a short stream from the unconscious mind. I started experimenting with how I might present this as text on screen and settled on simply deconstructing the written piece into component phrases that might reveal or give rise to new resonances in the unconscious spaces of the writing itself. Once I had transferred all the text to the screen, I cut the visual phrases to an experimental music piece by C.P. McDill, a sound artist whose work I have followed and admired since about 2008. The track, ‘Iced Coffee‘, was sourced from The Internet Archive, where it is freely available for remixing on a Creative Commons licence. For the images I went to Vimeo and did some searches on key words in their large pool of videos also available for remixing via Creative Commons. I discovered the work of the Mono No Aware group and selected three hand-processed films by Rachael Guma, Ashley Swinnerton and David Beard. Aside from being wonderful experimental film pieces in themselves, each flowed in a kinetic way that reminded me of the pace of thoughts, memories and images as they flow through a human brain. I put these together with a universal film leader from an old vaudeville show to come up with a first draft of the video. I then sent it to the poet to ask his permission to proceed with a final version. Eric kindly agreed. After a little reworking, this is the video that emerged.
Australian filmmaker Marie Craven demonstrates one way to get away with out-right illustration in a videopoem. Had she used footage of pinball games in a poem that references pinball, it would’ve seemed merely redundant, I think. But instead she hit upon the idea of using colorful still images (by Donald Bell) alternating with dark, silent-film-like title cards bearing the lines of the poem. Cut these images in time with up-tempo, pinball-esque music by CIRC, and rather than simply depicting a game of pinball, the video actually enacts or reproduces the effect of a highly kinetic ball careening around in an inert cabinet. “The whole thing / goes tilt.” And the poem is raised to a new level, I think.
Another pair of video remixes for a poem in The Poetry Storehouse. This time, the poem is by Eric Blanchard, and what’s especially interesting is that they employ the very same soundtrack, with a reading by Nic S. and a soundscape composed by Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon. The first video is by Nic and the second is by Swoon, and as you’ll see, they take very different approaches. Nic uses images and animation by Donna Kuhn, while Marc worked with four still photos, as he describes in a blog post:
I started from 4 pictures: that I took in my series ‘Dust of time‘; pictures of wood, rotten, wet,… Colours golden brown (like tea).
First I merged those pictures together, creating a short 10 second film showing those merged pictures. What followed was a stream of re-editing and layering of those 10 seconds… Until there was nothing recognisable left. Only a constant moving stream of psychedelic forms…
These two videopoems are an excellent demonstration of the fun to be had working with material at The Poetry Storehouse. Keep ’em coming, folks.