Monday 9 July 2018

Videos: Misery, The Sea, Nightlight Ghazal

Working process notes on the three latest videos completed...


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Sarah Sloat creates hand-made visual art pieces that are also poems. She does this by using various techniques to 'erase' most of the words from pages of Stephen King's novel, 'Misery'. Her 'erasures' leave only scattered words around the page, forming small poems. To these, she adds found images, related to the poems in associative ways that might recall surrealism. With Sarah's permission and ongoing feedback, I have here selected a number of the visual poetry pieces and adapted them. The video of 'Misery' attempts to construct a fragmented narrative, or new poem, from the juxtaposition of the selected visual poetry pieces. It focuses strongly on the image components of Sarah's 'Misery' pages and creates a new form in motion with them. Not a strict 'presentation' of Sarah's visual poetry, the video is my response to their inspiration. Music is by Gurdonark, whose Creative Commons music I have been following for about eight years. Other videos I have made from Sarah Sloat's poetry are Dictionary Illustrations and Nightlight Ghazal.

The Sea

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Sidney Irvine and I met on the web as fellow musicians in about 2008. Eventually we decided to form a 'cyber-duo', which we called PIXSID. I provided vocals for the music. Sid wrapped his experimental hip-hop sounds around them, and finalised the music production. Via email, we produced two albums, 'Atoms Apart' and 'Deliria Tang'. The music track for this video is 'The Sea', one of my favourites from 'Atoms Apart'. It is based on a poem by Juniper Roan, with their permission. For the image track, I animated and visually fragmented some superb images of sea and ocean from the royalty-free site, Unsplash. The full list of photographers is here. Then I fragmented the images further by jump-cutting to the music beats. In this way, the overall piece became a downtempo music video, fused with videopoetry and abstract art.

Nightlight Ghazal

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After making 'Dictionary Illustrations' some time ago, I was interested in further collaboration with poet and artist, Sarah Sloat. Through web searches I found her poem 'Nightlight Ghazal'. The piece struck a chord in me. I appreciated the wit, articulation and soul of the poem, and related to its subject. I contacted Sarah to ask permission to make a video of her poem, to which she agreed. For the vocal track, I approached videopoet, Cindy St. Onge. We had worked together previously when I put together a video for her poem, 'St. Umbilicus'. I appreciate the expressivity, intimacy and intelligence of her readings. After reading Sarah's poem, Cindy agreed to take part and sent me voice files to work with. For images, I turned to Carol Blyberg, whose wonderful photographs are published on Creative Commons licence at Flickr. Music is by Sidney Irvine (aka Dj Sid), an acid-jazz track called 'Paper Hearts'. Visually, I split the screen to lend a sense of disorientation in internal spaces, which is how I imagine the woman in the poem. I otherwise treated the still images simply, giving subtle motion via delicate zooms and dissolves. The intent was to evoke a kind of phantom woman, whose voice inhabits these interior spaces.

In festivals and events recently, my 1995 short, 'Maidenhead', was screened on original 35mm with the feature film, 'Desperately Seeking Susan', at the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI), in Melbourne's 'Federation Square'. The films screened together twice as part of ACMI's 'Wonderland' exhibition, exploring various incarnations of the famous novel, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'. This was a particularly exciting screening. It also coincided with several of my earlier short films on celluloid, including 'Maidenhead', being accepted into the ACMI archive. Among other things, this will mean I can finally upload some of my earlier shorts to the web in due course, once all archival processes are completed and I receive high quality digital files. This should happen sometime later in the year. Roughly at the same time as the ACMI screenings, film-maker, David King, included 'Orphanage' as part of an independently organised screening of shorts at 'Longplay', also in Melbourne.