Notes on the making of four recent videopoems featuring the work of online artists around the globe.
Read the poem
Just a few days ago I read a lovely poem called 'Solar Therapy' by Alaska-based artist and writer, Michele S. Cornelius and published in the multi-media literary journal, Gnarled Oak. As it happened, I already had images and music on hand, edited together and waiting for a poem that would mix well with them. I recognised the potential in Michele's piece straight away and completed this video in the 24 hours following the poem's first public appearance. The music is by Western Australian ensemble, Masonik, whose soundscapes I've appreciated over a number of years. This track is called 'Bending Light For The Magi'. I sourced it at the Pool group on Facebook, where it was posted on offer for remix. The images are from the royalty-free stock footage site, VideoBlocks. With a minimal piece like this the small details become magnified. I spent a surprising amount of time on minutiae in the editing, especially deciding how to present the phrases of the poem on the screen and where and when the text should best be placed. In the end, as is often the case, simple seemed best.
Read the poem
This is my second video with the poetry of A.M. Thompson in Washington DC (the first is below). The poem here, 'Death Meditation', was sourced from The Poetry Storehouse, along with the reading by Nic S., both on a remix-friendly Creative Commons licence. I love the poem and always love Nic's vocals, so it was a pleasure to put together a video with both. Paul Broderick also made a video remix of the same poem some months ago - the Storehouse is welcoming of multiple takes on the writing published there. The images in my remix are from a longer video by London-based film-maker, Mollie Mills. The original is at Vimeo on Creative Commons licence. Mollie met dancer, Ruth, on the streets of Johannesburg on the last day of a camera-trip to South Africa. They filmed a dance improvisation in a disused studio the same day. The music is by Ohio guitarist, Josh Woodward, also available on Creative Commons licence. Bringing together Ruth's movements with a poem about death and an upbeat guitar piece may seem a little unlikely. I was aiming for a life affirming feeling, something which naturally arises too within the phrases of the poem, and I'm always glad to find connections between media that don't immediately seem obvious. The video was recently featured at Dave Bonta's long-standing Moving Poems website.
Read the poem
In putting together videopoems made up of 'found' media, sometimes it takes a while to find a good mix of music, poem and visuals. I have many semi-completed projects in my work folders. In the case of this video I had the music first of all, a track called 'Terrahawks In Your Head' by long-time collaborator, Dementio13, in Wales. I simply like this piece and felt it might mix well in an uptempo videopoem. I'd also seen and admired the images some time ago in my searches of Creative Commons video at Vimeo. They are VJ clips from Uwe Schweer-Lambers aka Equiloud in Germany. The poem, sourced from The Poetry Storehouse, was the final element. This was my first attempt at bringing the writing of A.M. Thompson to video. It is a very short video, partly because of the relatively fast tempo of the music. As with music, I see that videopoems can be rapid or relaxed in their pacing and I'm interested to explore this further. I chose the four-screen mode partly because I wanted to position the text squarely in the centre of the screen and partly to emphasise the transformative animated movement in the images. I'm now in direct contact with A.M. Thompson and we hope to work together on future videos.
Read the poem
I have been in occasional online contact for several months with the very active Californian poet and teacher, Erica Goss, via our mutual interest in The Poetry Storehouse, Pool and Gnarled Oak. Unusually for me, this has extended to a long telephone call between Australia and USA (for an interview to appear in May in Erica's column at Connotation Press). During this call we discovered that we are both insomniacs, which led to Erica sending over her poem on the subject, 'Night Court'. Embarking on a video, I first found a 1959 safety-instructional film at the Prelinger Archives called 'Nightmare for the Bold', which included an extended courtroom scene. The wordless reaction shots especially drew my attention and I cut the video around these for a tense, slightly delirious feel. I used split-screen, both for the unsettling effect of mysterious people gazing silently across and at each other, and simply for better resolution of the fragile old images. We asked Nic S. to voice the poem and, in her characteristically generous way, the audio file was sent over in a matter of days. Once again, I went to Masonik for the music track, a wonderful piece called 'When the Floor Sinks Just Let the Sky Fall'.