Ian Gibbins‘ work is generally the first I mention when making the case for videopoetry as a genre in which “difficult” poems can become highly entertaining, even gripping. In Ian’s case, this has a lot to do with composing a groovy soundtrack. But his filming, text animation, and editing are all top-notch too. My only complaint here is that I wanted more ostrich.
Anyway, this one’s pretty high-concept, so I’d better reproduce the description on Vimeo:
“this time, this place… beyond open circulation closed reciprocity… closed hydration spheres wrought cast smithed… this is what we are what we eat … ”
Iron is the most common metal on earth. Indeed, it forms much of the molten core of the planet which in turn generates the earth’s magnetic poles. The red soils of the world are due to iron. At a biochemical level, iron is essential for human life, amongst other things, making our blood red. In the societal domain, iron is essential for manufacturing, electricity generation, and much more. Certain bacteria can derive energy for life directly from dissolved iron compounds (“rust”) rather than from oxygen as we do. Perhaps, at some time in the future, we, our descendants, the Ferrovores, may need to do the same.
Filmed mostly in the Southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia, in the midst of a multi-year drought.
A remix (2020) of the original version published in the Atticus Review (July, 2020).
This deservedly won the Audience Award at the 2020 REELpoetry/Houston TX festival in January, where I first saw it and was moved by the juxtaposition of disturbing imagery — either actual police body camera footage, or a very good simulacrum of it — with the speaker’s sedate description of her own backyard: a powerful indictment of the racism and class divisions permeating American society, where Black men risk death by police or vigilante shooting every time they go out the door, even into their own grandmother’s backyard. Rest in peace, Stephon Clark. I wish this videopoem didn’t still feel so necessary and relevant.
“Twenty Times” is a powerful political and poetic video. The use of ‘lo-fi’ imagery adds to the suspense and darkness of the video. The contrast with the every day life described in the poem sets the perfect base for the message.
This two-year-old videopoem by the Australian polymath Ian Gibbins is more relevant than ever, with this past week’s dire new report on the worldwide collapse of insect populations, which found that “More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered… The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.”
Compared with that forecast, Gibbins sounds down-right optimistic. Here’s how he describes the film on Vimeo:
“nearly extinct … we burrow… far from toxic miasmata … we will wait … once more fill the skies…”
Brooding, breeding underground, the insects wait until the time is right to escape the confines of gravity and environmental degradation.
Hexapod was short-listed and screened at 5th Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Competition, Cork, Ireland, 2017, as part of the IndieCork Film Festival.
It was screened at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival, Athens, January, 2018 and published on-line at Atticus Review in February, 2019.
Do visit the Atticus Review for additional process notes.
Much of life comes down to the simple things, small in nature but complicated in terms of the inner workings of the mind. Most of my work centers around the effortless red-letter moments of life, where the heart seems to linger. I create poetic snapshots of the past facing the present in a subtle attempt to draw attention to where we are culturally at this moment in our history. My poetry and films harken back to my Texas roots and friends and family in rural Colorado, bringing a touch of surrealism to my small town recollections, highlighting the occasions that seem to bind us emotionally and culturally.
Perkins is also the organizer and curator of the Juteback Poetry Film Festival in Fort Collins, Colorado, which by the way is still open for submissions through August 19.
A mixed-media work by Los Angeles-based writer and artist Susie Welsh, which came to my attention when it was featured at the Atticus Review back in November. Welsh had written:
The Living Image project began as a call-and-response between my writing and the paintings of visual artist, Bill Atwood. These static elements were then brought to life on camera through my collaborations with video artists, Billy Hunt and Brian Wimer, as well as musician, Deke Shipp.
The video is in six numbered parts: “The Source,” “Inverted,” “In Echo,” “Out of Blindness,” “The Witness” and “The Sphinx.” The poet’s face forms part of the screen/surface onto which images are projected, which is always an interesting effect but works especially well here, drawing attention to the hermetic and spell-like quality of the text — a text which, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t like very much on its own, laden as it is with modifiers and abstractions. But it works well in a videopoem that’s truly greater than the sum of its parts. The Vimeo description reads:
Living Image is a poetry film exploring the frustration and alienation inherent in the assumption of selfhood, as well as the possibility of extricating the power of consciousness from our self-conscious preoccupation.
Click through to Atticus Review to read a fuller artist’s statement, which delves into ancient Egyptian cosmology, as well as a bio of Welsh. And while you’re there, check out the guidelines for submission — mixed media editor Matt Mullins is always looking for new material.
Channel Swimmer is a short ‘flicker’ film that examines repetitive and ambivalent relationships in matriarchal cycles through the generations from mother to daughter to mother. The film is inspired by two novels – ‘A Proper Marriage’ by Doris Lessing and ‘National Velvet’ by Enid Bagnold, and their main characters. Martha Quest in ‘A Proper Marriage’ is having her own child and questions the relationship between herself and her mother. While Velvet Brown is quietly encouraged by her mother (who is the ‘Channel Swimmer’ of the title – as those who swim the English Channel to France are known) in ‘National Velvet’, the climax of which is when the protagonist wins the famous Grand National steeplechase. The words in the soundtrack are collaged from these two books. The film is made from hundreds of original photographs taken on location on a racecourse and in the studio.
Atticus Review, incidentally, unveiled a spiffy new site design a month or two back, and the editors are always looking for good mixed media submissions. Be sure to bookmark and check the site regularly.
“The ocean, addiction, making a few collages to discover some kind of meaning…In memory…” Thus reads the description to this moving, personal video essay by artist Dave Richardson, which explores the collage-like nature of memory itself. It was featured at Atticus Review back on May 5, accompanied by an artist’s statement. Here’s a snippet:
For my own personal or collaborative creative work, I am always trying to lose a sense of control, to move beyond the expected visuals and to not overthink the final results, to leave some of the process evident, the rough edges. I agree with the graphic designer Paul Rand when he said, “To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit: it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse. To design is to transform prose into poetry.”