The latest in an occasional series of Moving Poems productions matches Sarah Sloat‘s evocation of travel in the tropics to a beautifully decayed old home movie in a sort of lazy person’s homage to Stan Brakhage. The soundtrack is courtesy of the bird-sound library xeno-canto, from recordist Rodrigo Dela Rosa in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil. The footage has been lightly edited from a single movie at the International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories (IICADOM).
Since one of my main motivations in producing videopoems like this, apart from simply having fun, is to demonstrate to other poets just how easy it is, let me give a few more detailed process notes. The whole idea was prompted by viewing the footage (which was silent, like most old home movies, and therefore I think easier to imagine juxtaposed with poetry). I thought it might be interesting to pair it with a text that dealt with decay and/or travel somehow, and after messing around with some Elizabeth Bishop recordings — “Sleeping on the Ceiling” was one strong possibility — I remembered that Sarah Sloat had written something that might work.
I’m in London for the summer and my copies of Sarah’s chapbooks are back home in Pennsylvania, but a web search turned up the likely poem title (from Heiress to a Small Ruin), and since I’d worked with her before, it was simply a matter of emailing to ask for a copy (and of course permission to mess around with it). I experimented with a news ticker-like scroll of the text along the bottom of the screen, and shared that with Sarah via a private upload to Vimeo, but she felt that it was too distracting for a viewer to concentrate simultaneously on the text and the rapidly changing images, and offered to supply a voiceover instead.
I asked Sarah for three readings so I could pick and choose the best bits to combine with the rainforest soundscape (editing as always on Audacity, which is excellent, free, and easy to use). Then it was simply a matter of cutting and splicing the footage to fit. (I use MAGIX Movie Edit Pro, which is a cheaper and somewhat more sophisticated alternative to novice-friendly software such as Adobe Premiere Elements. Its widespread adoption means that most questions one might have about its use are addressed in tutorials on YouTube.) The biggest change I made was to apply a warm filter to most of the footage — all but the “northeast” portion of the poem, which retains the original, cooler look — for that “bloodshot” effect. That might seem like an essential edit, but in fact it was the last thing I thought of, and the video worked almost as well without it. It’s always tricky to decide how much literalism to allow in a videopoem, but given the abstract nature of most of the images, I figured I could get away with some pink, blood-vessel-like webbing here and there.
This is Part VII in the 12 Moons collaborative videopoem series presented by Atticus Review — and it may be my favorite to date. As usual, the line-up is Erica Goss (text), Nic S. (voice), Kathy McTavish (music), and Swoon, A.K.A. Marc Neys (concept and direction). Neys calls the text
A lovely short poem that I wanted to give an extra playful and nostalgic layer by adding a bit of ‘family history’.
I went back to the outstanding collection of IICADOM (‘International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories’) to look for the right footage.
Kathy provided me with an impressive soundtrack with enough length to work with two distinctive parts in the visual storyline.
Part one; a bright and colourful look into the carefree world of children. Part two; a short view on the expectations, doubts, happiness and moments of fear that might precede that carefree world.
I wanted a more experimental (frantic even) sequence of images for this one. I constructed a soundtrack around Steve’s reading. Re-edited sounds I created before, a sample from I.M. Rawes, taken from London Sound Survey, and new addings of heavily treated recordings (a boiler room) […]
I found the perfect images and atmosphere in one of the hundreds of excerpts out of “The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories” on IICADOM.
A weird combination of naive stop motion (with clay, hands and beans) with some alienated dancing and dark faces in between… A strange string of associations, perfect for what I had in mind.