Comment Thread on Tangled Garden

direct link: Tangled Garden
Tangled Garden is a triptych of nature poems (by me):

-A Floral Opera (2011)
-In the Hands of the Garden Gods (1979)
-Slipstream, the Tangled Garden (2006)

(with impromptu speaking between the poems, which each end with ~~~ in the subtitle track.)

Beautiful singing by the musician, Catherine Corelli from her album, Seraphic Tears (2010) (with her permission).

Note: This video is subtitled. Click on the CC on the play bar to activate or de-activate the subtitles. YouTube will also automatically translate the subtitles into 25 languages if English is not your main language and you would like to get the gist of the poetry.

Swoon (who is a brilliant filmmaker who makes video/filmpoems of other people's poetry [only once his own writing that I know of]. Click on the link to explore his ever-expanding repertoire.)

This is ambitious. Brave. I find it too long to digest is one take, but in smaller doses (altough maybe you didn't intent it to be taken in like that) I find it by times mesmerising. The colours and the shifting movements and all those layers do work. They take the piece to another level. I do see what 'body of work' (and hours) must have gone in this. That itself is something to bow for. That said, personally I find the piece as a whole leaning too much on the same techniques. That works for me, as said earlier, in smaller portions. But please don't notice these remarks, because in doing it like this you made a highly original piece, that, when drawn into it can take someone to another place intirely. But when not drawn into it, it feels like staring into some psychedelic lightfeature without the trip... In the end, I guess, it's about opening oneself up to it. That works, for me, only sometimes. But when it works...boy, it is a magnificent journey.
Best, M.

A torrent was unleashed in my response:

I thought poets and painters would have less trouble with this video than filmmakers. The single, long cut over 22 minutes would be anathema to a filmmaker.

Yet, and you well know I can create videos with many different cuts and visual action, why did I choose to produce a videopoem of one long cut?

This is a central question.

In my own answer, I find a rebellion against the fast, clippy, zappy commercial, though I do recognize that commercials are created by great filmmakers all over the world. But they are promoting products and need to be 'busy' to grab the viewers attention.

I have no such needs. I can make something that satisfies my deep inner needs. If you, or anyone else, finds it long and dull, that's not my problem. The video is exactly the way I want it to be. I am content.

As a long time meditator, focusing on one thing for great lengths of time is not an issue for me. A single clip slowed to 22 minutes is reaching into the meditative mind, the deep undercurrent of our consciousness.

You want to be busy, busy and run, run, and can't. You can turn the video off, or watch in palatable bites. But it won't speed up or become visually active. Tangled Garden is the opposite of a pinball machine. It is intentionally diametrically opposed to the bustling, busy life.

One can either take the sustained meditation, or they can't. I have added a few extras, the figure that appears and disappears in the second and third poems, the unmasking at the end. So there is movement, some pinball motion.

The main focus, and where there is movement is the vegetation of the background. This is the star of the film.

The earth.

All three poems are about the earth. Yes, I am a woman, as a woman I approach out of my own subjectivity. The earth is imaged as a strange mother. The earth gives us life and recycles us back into new life when we die. Nature is one huge mass of copulating organisms and plants, full of a sexual, creative energy I call the "green fire."

My muse the earth, the great earth mother, is imaged as a vegetative women, that figure is almost horrific, death become life, mulch of leaves and grasses and floral colours rising from the forest floor. A slow dance. Have you seen the Alexander McQueen dresses made of twigs, brome, leaves, flowers? I saw them after I had made this film and was delighted, amazed. I'll dig them up and show you on Facebook.

While McQueen's vision of an earth goddess is more like a Shakespearean sonnet, mine is more chthonic.

While it was entirely unconscious, with the paper mache mask I had made and the dance in High Park with my daughter nearby offering protection to the space I was moving and unlayering in a psychic sense to, and the editing, a process of pure magic, editing is always this, I was shocked to realize that the figure in Tangled Garden is the same figure that emerged in a dream (which the second poem is about) that I had 30 years ago!

These ruminations and thoughts and explorations of Nature that are expressed through the three long surreal poems in Tangled Garden have been with my all my life.

I lived in an African jungle until I was nearly 7, in Zambia in what was then the largest game park in Africa, beside the Zambesi River, 200 miles from the nearest town. We had a compound of mud huts.

So the jungle is very deep in me, and the video, despite being made in Canada in a city, contains the richness of the tangled gardens of my whole life.

It is a strange, surreal world that seems to be evoking intensities in people. Some seem to really love it and it has been called a 'magnum opus' - and it is, for me it is. And others, like you, have difficulty with it.

Yet the reasons you give, dear Swoon, and I do appreciate your struggling with this long art film, are ones I knew would be problemmatic to some while I was working on it, and yet, the meditative mind won out.

When you meditate long enough, the tangle of thoughts eventually stills and then you can hear the singing of the garden of the earth.

Thanks for your long and detailed comment - I think my work must strike a special key because when you respond it's with a mixture of yes and no, a complexity of diagonals and opposites that I appreciate.

Look at what I've written in response! You're evoking a response that is certainly of more depth than normal.

You are my teacher, and I continue to learn through our discussions.


Brenda, Thanks for this explanation. And yes, as said before, it's good you did this exactly the way you felt it needed to be done. That is what makes it great (even if some, like me, find it hard to take in) I think that's what good art must be...a personal statement regardless of what 'others' might think about it.

So thanks. Thanks for sharing this. This work, these thoughts and this personal addendum.

Just keep exploring and doing exactly what and how you want to...

Best M.

This comment thread occurred February 8 - 10th, 2012, at Vimeo. Swoon's comments posted with his permission.

These are the Alexander McQueen dresses I was referring to in this comment thread.... aren't they beautiful. The flowers and foliage are real, and were apparently quite something to see since they were wilting, drying out, in the process of decay, and hence quite a fashion statement on the ephemerality of beauty...


Comments (1)

Video poetry by Swoon: 'Welcome to hard times'

direct link: Welcome to hard times

What a haunting, evocative video poem... the footage quite perfect, it contains the emotion, buried in black seawater and suffused, washing up to the shore like an oil spill, an edge of threatening, and we must imagine the events as they occur in their surreality. Poem by Howie Good and reading by Nic Sebastian, amazing of course.

Swoon wrote (in response to my comment above, with his permission):

"It was a struggle to make though... I couldn't get the atmosphere right at first. Too much... In the end I stripped down a lot and stayed with only the 'washing' tides, the washed up seaweeds and stuff and the wood. I kept the 'foggy footage off course, that was the first idea."

Which caused me to elaborate a little:

Nic's reading is understated, and your video is understated, but wow, the emotion spills out in ways it wouldn't if the video were a more dramatic enactment of the poem. I think you've caught the dreaming, imagining mind at the crux where the river flows into the ocean, where emotive images become part of a thought-process, and the visual and verbal metaphors continue to work at that subliminal level after the video is over.
Jun 2024
Apr 2024
Aug 2023
Oct 2022
May 2022
Oct 2021
Sep 2021
Jul 2021
May 2021
Jan 2021
Oct 2020
Aug 2020
Jul 2020
Jun 2020
May 2020
Dec 2019
Sep 2019
Aug 2019
Jul 2019
May 2019
Apr 2019
Feb 2019
Jan 2019
Nov 2018
Sep 2018
Aug 2018
Jul 2018
May 2018
Apr 2018
Mar 2018
Feb 2018
Jan 2018
Dec 2017
Nov 2017
Oct 2017
Sep 2017
Aug 2017
Jul 2017
Jun 2017
May 2017
Apr 2017
Mar 2017
Feb 2017
Jan 2017
Dec 2016
Nov 2016
Oct 2016
Sep 2016
Aug 2016
Jul 2016
Jun 2016
May 2016
Apr 2016
Mar 2016
Feb 2016
Jan 2016
Dec 2015
Nov 2015
Oct 2015
Sep 2015
Aug 2015
Jul 2015
Jun 2015
May 2015
Apr 2015
Mar 2015
Feb 2015
Jan 2015
Dec 2014
Nov 2014
Oct 2014
Sep 2014
Aug 2014
Jul 2014
Jun 2014
May 2014
Apr 2014
Mar 2014
Feb 2014
Jan 2014
Dec 2013
Nov 2013
Oct 2013
Sep 2013
Aug 2013
Jul 2013
Jun 2013
May 2013
Apr 2013
Mar 2013
Feb 2013
Jan 2013
Dec 2012
Nov 2012
Oct 2012
Sep 2012
Aug 2012
Jul 2012
Jun 2012
May 2012
Apr 2012
Mar 2012
Feb 2012
Jan 2012
Dec 2011
Nov 2011
Oct 2011
Sep 2011
Aug 2011
Jul 2011
Jun 2011
May 2011
Apr 2011
Mar 2011
Feb 2011
Jan 2011
Dec 2010
Nov 2010
Oct 2010
Sep 2010
Aug 2010
Jul 2010
Jun 2010
May 2010
Apr 2010
Mar 2010
Feb 2010
Jan 2010
Dec 2009
Nov 2009
Oct 2009
Sep 2009
Aug 2009
Jul 2009
Jun 2009
May 2009
Apr 2009
Mar 2009
Feb 2009
Jan 2009
Dec 2008
Nov 2008
Oct 2008
Sep 2008
Aug 2008
Jul 2008
Jun 2008
May 2008
Apr 2008
Mar 2008
Feb 2008
Jan 2008
Dec 2007
Nov 2007
Oct 2007
Sep 2007
Aug 2007
Jul 2007
Jun 2007
May 2007
Apr 2007
Mar 2007
Feb 2007
Jan 2007
Dec 2006
Nov 2006
Oct 2006
Sep 2006
Aug 2006
Jul 2006
Jun 2006
May 2006
Apr 2006
Mar 2006
Feb 2006
Jan 2006
Dec 2005
Nov 2005
Oct 2005
Sep 2005
Aug 2005
Jul 2005
Jun 2005
May 2005
Apr 2005
Mar 2005
Feb 2005
Jan 2005
Sep 2004
Jun 2004
May 2004
Oct 2003
RSS Feed