2 birds by Martha McCollough first appeared several years ago and is still well worth sharing now. Martha is an artist, writer and animator whose sustained work in video poetry is compelling and unique.
The text is an adaption of a verse from the Upanishads. Martha speaks this herself in a many-layered vocal soundtrack. She also created the melodically unusual music, minimal and haunting.
Visually the piece displays a strong relation to experimental film forms. Text on screen is shown in layers, echoing the treatment of the voice. Some lines of verse move very quickly, less like comprehensible words, more an abstract texture of the moving images. Other textual layers appear more legibly. Phrases also appear and disappear at different moments like brief little messages underscoring levels of the voice.
The central visual motif anchoring the different elements reflects the title. Two birds are seen in semi-photographic images and in line drawings. Here we see that the two birds might really be one bird. This is thematically linked to the final couplet that resolves the swirling poetic resonances of the whole.
Martha McCollough’s latest videopoem is a bit of a departure from her previous work, reinforcing her reputation as one of the most versatile practitioners of the medium. Whether or not she intended it as a statement on the freshly controversial Laura Ingalls Wilder—the last line would seem to suggest that she did—it’s a great meditation on language and the construction (or destruction) of place.
Happy Independence Day to all my American readers.
I admit, I want there to be hell. I want to decide who goes there.
Martha McCollough’s latest videopoem makes a case for everyone’s least favorite afterlife destination. The video appears in Issue Seven of Datableed, one of the relatively few literary magazines that specifically mentions “visual or video poetry” as something they’re looking for.
Martha McCollough’s latest animated poem appeared in Atticus Review on March 3, along with this artist’s statement:
Bees have many associations with death—they are sacred to Persephone and when there is a death in the beekeeper’s household they must be told and allowed to mourn. Through honey, they have associations with creativity—it is a Greek folk belief that if a bee touches the lips of a sleeping child, the child will be a singer or a poet. I wanted to keep this elegy simple and direct, so there is no voiceover, only visual text. The soundtrack was composed using the p22 text-to-music generator. Sections of the text were used to create a midi file, freely edited in Logic.
A new videopoem by artist and poet Martha McCollough always makes me do a little dance of pure delight. Break and Remake debuted on Atticus Review a week ago, and I’ve held off on sharing it till now (not wanting to steal their thunder) only with great difficulty. Here’s how McCollough introduced it:
Break and Remake came out of thinking about the recombined creatures in myths and in the margins of medieval manuscripts. The whole video is broken and reassembled, as are the griffins, chimeras, and other monsters within the video. The text is also a hybrid, combining overheard remarks, a line from a song by Son House and computer-generated text from spam.
Massachusetts-based artist Martha McCollough shows why she’s at or near the top of many people’s lists of the most innovative videopoets out there today. Until now she’s worked mainly with animation and collage techniques, but for this film she directed a troupe of seven actors wearing masks and enlisted the help of three videographers (Katie Valovcin, Cameron Morton and Joe Nervous) and two “animal wranglers.”
Indefinite Animals is featured in Issue 147 – Winter/Spring 2015 of TriQuarterly, McCollough’s fourth videopoem to appear in that most prestigious of all journals that currently publish poetry films. Go there to watch the other three. Her bio there reads:
Martha McCollough is a member of Atlantic Works, a coop gallery in Boston. Her work has been exhibited at festivals and conferences in Greece, Canada, the U.K. and the United States, and published in Rattapallax, Gone Lawn and Small Po[r]tions. She lives in Chelsea, Massachusetts.