Sunday 6 November 2016

End of year 2016: Anatomy, Oracle..., In the Temple

2016 has been a big year here. 12 video poems have been released. The most recent of them...


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Over a couple of years I've been following the erasure poetry of Dave Bonta, drawn from the 17th century Diary of Samuel Pepys. Erasure poetry, for those not familiar, is the process of selecting disconnected words from a pre-existing text to create a poem from them. It's a kind of word game, and a discipline. In the case of Dave's erasure poetry, it's also a mammoth project he's been carrying on almost daily since 2013. Just last month he published a short poem called 'Anatomy'. This one had a special resonance to me and I immediately started thinking about creating a video from it. Dave shares all his poetry on a remix-friendly Creative Commons licence, meaning anyone can incorporate it in a new work in a new medium. I also have direct communications with Dave over the net and he's featured many of the video poems I've released over the past couple of years on his great Moving Poems website. A track called 'Red Blood', from Adi Carter, is the music here. I've known Adi online since 2007 and we've collaborated many times musically in the past. His music has also featured on two other video poems I've put together: 'Sometimes the Water' and 'Transmission'. For the visuals in the 'Anatomy' video, I went to the albums of Double-M, at Flickr, where many vintage images are available on a Creative Commons remix licence. I selected a group of illustrations on human anatomy by Elisa Schorn circa 1900. They are 'animated' in the video roughly 10 frames at a time, in rhythm with the music. I decided to present the poem as a stream of single words on the screen, in a slower rhythmic flow than the images. This resolves into a full presentation of the written piece at the end, with its original formatting, as on the page. So pleased to have made this one, and especially that both Dave and Adi are happy with it too.

Oracle of a found shoe

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This year the biennial Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Germany offered a 'festival poem' to be interpreted in film or video, by any artist around the world. This year's poem 'Oracle of a found shoe' was available to participants in both original Dutch, and English translation, on the Lyrikline poetry site, along with a voice recording in Dutch by the poet, Mustafa Stitou. This was my first attempt at rendering a video poem in two languages. I had been wanting to include a music piece called 'Twareg Rose' in a video for some time and this seemed the right placement for it. It is by Italian producer, Max Waves. We've collaborated before musically. Max was further involved as producer of the sound mix of voice and instrumental that became the final soundtrack in this video. Moving images were sourced from the royalty-free site, Videoblocks. Some of the images are from Alaska-based Gene Cornelius. They are seemingly unconnected but I edited them in a free-associative, analagous relation to the words of the poem. I submitted the video to the Zebra festival but it was not selected as a finalist. Nonetheless I appreciated the challenge of making a video in this way and would do so again.

In the Temple

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In my last blog entry, I wrote about a new collaboration with Byron Bay writer, Candida Baker. Byron is about an hour's drive from where I live at the Gold Coast, Australia. Unlike most of my net collaborators, Candida and I have been able to meet in person. The first video we collaborated on was 'In the Forest'. This new one is 'In the Temple'. The process of putting it together was fairly simple. Candida had already sent me a collection of poems and voice files, of which 'In the Temple' was a favourite. Her readings were recorded by Michael Whiticker, on the Sunshine Coast. I then found a wonderful collection of photos on the net, taken in an abandoned building at 5 Beekman Street, New York. The photographer is Rob Boudon, whose work is licensed for remix at Flickr. I didn't know it at the time but, now that I look on Google Maps, I find the name of the building at Beekman Street is Temple Court! In any case, the poem and the images clicked together with a music track by wordless poem. I had already downloaded this music a couple of years ago, on Creative Commons licence at Jamendo, hoping to be able to incorporate it into a video. I cut and mixed Candida's voice with the instrumental piece, spending a fair amount of care and time on this, and on the overall rhythms of the image editing, to create a minimal piece reflecting on creativity and despair, something most artists will at one time be familiar.

In other news, this year some of the videos have been getting out to international poetry film events. Dictionary Illustrations, from a poem by Sarah Sloat, won the Ó Bhéal International Poetry Film Competition in Ireland. Over the moon was I. The same video was selected for curated programs at the Festival Silencio in Portugal, and the Sinestesia video poetry event in Spain. One Dream Opening Into Many, from a poem by Kallie Falandays, also screened in competition at Festival Silencio. It screened too at Ó Bhéal, along with Joining the Lotus Eaters, from a poem by Laura M Kaminski.

Many of the videos created this year have been featured online at Moving Poems and Gnarled Oak. There are mentions in articles at Poetryfilmkanal and Cardiff Digi Network.

I am pleased too that a film I directed in 1995, 'Maidenhead', was selected as part of a retrospective of short films from the '90s by Australian women. This formed part of an exhibition called 'Femflix' that was showing at the Sydney College of the Arts Gallery during August and September. 'Maidenhead' was from the era when I was directing short films on celluloid and is not watchable online, but I'm glad it is remembered.

This year has seen the release of a song and music video from Cwtch. This is the long time music duo of Paul Foster and I. He makes music magic around voice recordings I send him over the net. This song started with the poetry collection, Highway Sky, by James Brush. Watch for a full music release from us in 2017, inspired by James' poetry.