A poetic music video or a musical videopoem? Tommy Becker‘s videos for his Tape Number One project are hard to categorize, which is why I haven’t featured them here as often as I should. They blend “the artist’s poetics, songwriting, performance, costuming with found footage and computer design,” according to the statement on his website.
“Song for Koko” is from 2015. The accompanying text on Vimeo reads:
An elephant escapes from the circus and begins a rampage down a city street. His trunk tosses aside everything in his path. We cheer for him. Why? A man sits on an alligator and attempts to tie his mouth shut. The alligator contorts his body, throwing the man off before turning to bite. We are unsympathetic. Why? We take our children to the zoo to look at the monkeys. The children complain about their inactivity and we feel a sense of betrayal as we admit to ourselves that our observations are a fraud. What’s important in these situations of conflict and captivity is that we are seeing animals as equals. They are no longer the lesser species. A life force is being held against its will or once again running wild through the streets. The moment the lion lunges at the tamer we understand his motives. We relate viscerally to his oppression as we connect to the soul of its being.
Tommy Becker is “A poet trapped in a camcorder [who] continues to feed video, music and poems into his never-ending saga, ‘TAPE NUMBER ONE’. Often Becker’s single channel works are translated to live performance.” Discovering new-to-me videopoets of such originality is what makes all the work of publishing Moving Poems worthwhile. Here’s the Vimeo description:
Song for Awe & Dread is a contemporary take on the vanitas paintings of the 17th century and an investigation into the emotional duality of our existence. It is AWEsome to be human and to be alive, but the evolution of human intelligence has also burdened our species with a self-awareness of life’s impermanence. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called these two uniquely human emotions, awe and dread. Through its symbolic meditation on mortality, this work attempts to find meaning between the fleeting flavors of bubblegum and cultural programming that entrenches us in our denial of death.
Music & Text & Video: written, recorded, performed and edited by Tommy Becker ©2015
instructional poetry read by – Don Johnson
skeleton characters performed by – Billy Mark
backing vocals – Rosie Harald
public domain footage – collected from the Prelinger Archives.
A huge THANK YOU!!! to all my students for their enthusiastic participation.