Saturday 31 March 2018

Videos: Light Ghazal, The Retreat, Peace-Prayer

Notes on the making of recent videos, and other happenings....

Light Ghazal

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'Light Ghazal' is a third video collaboration with poet, Matt Hetherington. From across the world, Dave Bonta put us in email contact for the first of these, 'Orphanage'. Since then Matt, who lives not far from me here in Australia, has been coming up this way to meet and collaborate in person. This process resulted in the second piece, 'Everything sleeps but the night', and now this latest. It's kind of radical for me to collaborate in the flesh these days, as most of my collaborations for the past decade, video and music alike, have been net-based. I welcome this recent development. For the soundtrack I selected 'Inna Sky' from the 'Sutol' album by Fremantle-based Masonik, whose sounds I have also worked with before in my poetry videos. The source footage for the image track is from Mono No Aware in New York, whose films are available on Creative Commons licence at Vimeo. I selected the sections of footage most fitting for this new video and created two layers on top of each other. This was so I could add dimensionality and fx to bring out the hand-processed film textures, as well as bring into sharper presence the ghostly, underlying images on the original film. I love hand-processed film. It seems to emphasise the direct chemical expression of light hitting celluloid and focus us on the materiality of that process. Thus the footage seemed especially relevant to the poem here, which is all about light.

The Retreat

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'The Retreat' is a third collaboration with another poet who also performs her own work. Made in collaboration with Lucy English in the UK, this piece forms part of her larger project, 'The Book of Hours'. Lucy's project involves many film and video makers internationally, such as Marc Neys, Helen Dewbery, Eduardo Yague, Jutta Pryor, Matt Mullins and many others. Music in my video here is by Adrian Carter with sung vocals by Anne Garner. The musical piece was originally titled 'Your Name', one of Anne's own vocal music tracks. Adi then remixed and edited the track. After this remix was completed, I found it on Soundcloud and contacted Adi. He incorporated Lucy's spoken voice into the mix, making some changes to the musical piece to better suit our new project. I then further edited the overall track to suit the video (Adi, Anne and I have collaborated musically in a way similar to this once before for the video, 'To Lou Andre-Salome'). The images are from Flickr, all on Creative Commons remix licences. The complete list of photographers is here. The one moving image shot in the video is from Pixabay. The piece is structured in two halves, representing a kind of 'Sliding Doors' concept in the poem: what would it be like if we'd chosen a different path for our lives? In the first section, I loosely animated the stills in time with the music. In the second I gave the images a treatment familiar to those who have watched Ken Burns' films, with added dissolves, and a moving image overlay, to emphasise daydreaming.


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'Peace-Prayer' is a fourth collaboration with US poet, Laura M Kaminski. The earlier pieces were 'Joining the Lotus Eaters', 'Lilies of the Field', and 'Security'. I asked Laura by email some time ago if she had any new poems she might like to see in video form. After some time, she sent over some poems. This one stood out to me, as I too long for peace. The images are from royalty-free footage site, Videoblocks. I selected images that seemed to express the scope of address of Laura's poem, while visually free-associating on the phrases. There was some careful work with the dissolves between images and an effect on the text, that appears in print on the screen, without voiceover. Music is by Benjamin Dauer and Specta Ciera (Devin Underwood in Boston). The track is called 'Shadows Emerging' and is licensed Creative Commons.

Since my last blog update towards the end of 2017, a fair bit has been happening with exhibition of my films and videos. Most recently I was in Melbourne for a retrospective screening of my work as a maker of shorts since 1984. The event was curated by Chris Luscri for Artist Film Workshop. Chris also interviewed me while I was in town. This appears in the first issue of Bill Mousoulis' new web project about Australian independent cinema, 'Pure Shit' (named after Bert Deling's notorious film of 1975). My interview can be found here. Long time friend and experimental film-maker, Dirk de Bruyn, also made a silent timelapse video of the whole event here.

In January, three videos screened at the International Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece. These were Anatomy, One Dream Opening Into Many and Poem for Rent. The latter has also been selected to screen at the Newlyn Film Festival in the UK in April. There have also been some recent web features of work, including at Moving Poems and Gnarled Oak.

Finally I'd like to make special mention of Frank Lovece, a friend and collaborator from decades past, who passed away recently. Marcus Bergner, also part of the sound-poetry group Arf Arf, compiled a selection of writings from various people that knew and appreciated Frank's eclectic life's work. Published by Melbourne's Experimenta journal, it is a collective tribute to an artist whose unique presence in the world is much missed.