Poet: J. Hope Stein

from The Inventor’s Last Breath by J. Hope Stein

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Two excerpts from a 15-minute film called The Inventor’s Last Breath, which premiered at the 2011 CinePoetry Festival at the Henry Miller Library at Big Sur. The film, by J. Hope Stein, is based on her chapbook Talking Doll. Stein blogged this about the first excerpt, “Tiny Men”:

The audio and video are comprised of the some of the first wax cylinder and moving image recordings made by Thomas Edison in the late1880’s- early 1900’s including footage of an elephant Edison had publicly electrocuted as part of a scheme to drive one of his competitors out of business as well as the first kiss ever recorded in moving image.

As far as audio recordings, I used a recording of a man singing into his private phonogram which has a really personal quality, as if he is singing as he mows the lawn or in the shower. I also used an audio recording of Handel’s Israel in Egypt – labeled “ A choir of 4,000 voices over 100 yards away” which was recorded at the Crystal Palace in London in 1888 and has the eerie sound of a lost civilization trying to communicate specifically with us in this moment as their voices time travel through the distressed materials of the early phonograph cylinders.

And about the second excerpt, “The Insomniacs,” she wrote:

All of the music and moving image is sampled from early archived recordings by Thomas Edison. (Except for the song at the end by Broken Bells).

The footage in this clip is just slow motion of a windy city day at the foot of the Flatiron Building in New York City in 1903.