A video remix by Othniel Smith for Lucy English’s Book of Hours project, with her reading as the only soundtrack. Smith notes in the description that he sourced the imagery from a 1961 film produced by General Motors called A Touch of Magic. Intrigued, I found a Wikipedia page for it. It included the immortal lines:
This dream house you and I will share
Was planned for us by Frigidaire.
A half-century from now, will our contemporary techno-utopian fantasies seem as corn-ball and melancholy as this does now? Nothing ages as poorly as modernism — or is better suited for recycling into poems, especially one as wistful and gently ironic as this.
Words and voice are by Lucy English; film, grading, editing and music by Marc Neys AKA Swoon — his most recent contribution to The Book of Hours project. It features orphaned home movie footage from IICADOM (The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories).
From dawn to nightfall, the sky reflects a couple’s relationship.
(don’t forget to look for the face in the clouds)
A recent addition to Lucy English‘s Book of Hours project, this time by her collaborator at Liberated Words, Sarah Tremlett, who’s credited as photographer and director, with James Symonds as editor and music by Kevin MacLeod.
Update (30 March 2018)
Sarah sent along these process notes:
Lucy and I had two separate ideas in parallel. In terms of the visuals – I get up early and noticed the dramatic colours playing out in the winter sky. Actually a mystical orange glow appeared through the window one morning! I wanted to capture the sky at brief intervals from dawn to dusk (with a history as a painter always fascinated by changing patterns of light) and spent a day doing so. Lucy then mentioned she had a new poem – Mr Sky – which was one of those wonderful coincidences. I like to work from nature or live footage where possible and you can wait a long time for the right image to turn up, or just be too preoccupied to see it … and then you need just the right poem and soundscape!
‘Quiet Sounds’ is my second video collaboration with the marvelous UK poet and performer, Lucy English. Both have been made as part of her great, multi-artist project, ‘The Book of Hours‘. The earlier video, ‘The Last Days‘, started with images. This one started with the poem and sound. The soundscape is comprised entirely of Lucy’s voice and small noises in the environment. I wanted the ‘bed’ of the soundscape to be quietly musical and constructed it from a collection of sounds recorded by various artists, and found on Creative Commons licences at Freesound. The central element is the metronomic sound of a clock ticking. I edited Lucy’s voice in loose rhythm with the clock, elongating the pace of her reading and leaving spaces for the various other sounds to have their ‘solo’ moments: a pheasant and a wood pigeon, a sheep, a cow, an old fridge, air traffic. I carefully built up the soundtrack piece by piece until I had a complete first draft. Then I looked for images that might add further to the audiovisual experience of the poem. The poem describes a moment of solitude, a hush when a woman becomes aware of the little sounds in her environment. It is implied she is inside a domestic space at the time. In my net wanderings, I found a marvelous series of interior shots by Carol Blyberg (aka Smilla4 on Flickr), also available on a Creative Commons licence. I worked with the images using zooms and slow dissolves that changed in rhythm with Lucy’s voice. For such an apparently simple piece, it was time-intensive to make, especially in the refining process that saw both sound and image go through many drafts. I gave a lot of attention to subtle details, in a meditative way. Maureen Doallas has since featured ‘Quiet Sounds’ on her wonderful blog, Writing Without Paper.
See Vimeo for the text of the poem, as well as links to all the soundtrack sources.
As her ambitious Book of Hours has unfolded, it’s been fascinating to watch Lucy English‘s poetry evolve and adapt to the online video medium and to the exigencies of particular film-making styles. Here’s how Stevie Ronnie, her collaborator for this film (along with composer Jim Ronnie), describes their process at Vimeo:
Lucy and I wanted to try something different as a way of kick starting the collaborative process for Dark Place. It started from a desire to work on something that was going to become part of Lucy’s Book of Hours poetry film project. Poetry films often begin with the words or footage or sound but we decided to start from a colour palette. I created a palette and sent it to Lucy and she wrote the poem from the colours. Lucy then sent me a couple of drafts of the poem and, after spending some time digesting Lucy’s words, I decided to respond to it visually. Using the colours that I found in Lucy’s poem I rendered the poem as a painting, where each mark on the canvas represents a letter in the poem. I then captured this process as a series of still images which have been strung together into the film. The soundtrack, performed by my father Jim Ronnie, was composed and added during the video editing phase as a response to the poem’s images and the words.
The latest addition to the Book of Hours, Lucy English’s multi-filmmaker collaborative poetry film project, is by Marie Craven, who used footage from the 1942 documentary A Child Went Forth and music by Kevin MacLeod. The close fit of text to images paves the way for an especially affecting zinger of a last line.
Incidentally, I gather from Facebook that Lucy is still looking for collaborators. Get in touch with her if you’re interested.