'Split Mask' videopoem published in CrossBridge

Split Mask is a political poem. It is an interlaced, layered, multi-media piece that took 3 years to complete. It is about dictators and refugees, about the masks we wear, what the torn mask hides and reveals. It is about what I hear on inside of the mask.

My performance videopoem has been published in the inaugural issue of CrossBridge, an International Journal of Multidisciplinaryand Progressive Research. It's on page 21. The journal looks wonderful, and I'm honoured to be included. (The link will open a free PDF of the journal on-line; there is also a print version that can be purchased.)


direct link: Split Mask

Dr. Robert Caine sent an email responding to my submission to their journal, CrossBridge:
Your creative and artistic video is layered with powerful and thought-provoking messages that truly gives your viewers much to contemplate regarding an array of global issues....Again, thank you for your accomplished work.
Another comment that I received that I thought offered insight into Split Mask was from my friend, John Oughton, who I first sent the finished version to for feedback:
It's hypnotic. That prismatic beating heart, the overlays, the found stills and videos of suffering in Syria, the voice full of feeling... it made me realize that the split mask is a portal, not a disguise, a way to how everything/others are broken themselves, split from peace, from safety.


The story of how Split Mask arose and developed from a single burning image:

In the spring of 2013, an 'image' appeared in my mind of a 'split mask', and it obsessed me. Thinking I would have to build a mask from scratch, I put off constructing what I saw so clearly in my vision. But I found a cardboard base at an art store. I ripped it roughly and, with masking tape and cotton wading, papier-mâchéd it with white glue and water so that it was strong, and painted it white.

After the mask was made, I was compelled, in the way the muse compels, to write a poem so that I could create a performance piece wearing the mask for poetry readings. The poem was beating on the inside of my head and gave me no peace until I began to write it. The poem, 'Split Mask,' took a year to write, and went through a number of readers and poetry workshops until it was honed to the version here. The poem was completed in the summer of 2014.

In the meantime, I had a solo show at Urban Gallery in Toronto in January and February 2014. I needed one more painting for the show. For 3 days, just before New Year's, I turned my computer and phone off, and painted a 5' square painting, a self-portrait of the split mask and the art skeleton wearing the yellow lace that I stored it on. Earlier that fall, I had had one of those 'visionary' moments - I saw a large canvas with a diagonal mass of gold rising. 'Split Mask' is a copper and metal gold leaf, charcoal, graphite and acrylic painting and was ready for its early January 2014 installation.

In the summer of 2014, I was memorizing the poem, Split Mask, for a poetry feature at 100,000 Poets for Change in Toronto. I set up a video camera and performed it in front of the painting. This rehearsal became the core of the performance videopoem you see here.

Asked to feature at a fundraiser for a Syrian Refugee put on by the United Church in Toronto, I decided to show some of my unpublished videopoems. I made a very rough cut of Split Mask, adding war footage I found on The Internet Archives. Note: although I began writing the poem the summer the dictator of Syria began using chemical weapons on his own people, nowhere in the poem does it mention him or Syria specifically. The poem, rather, refers to these issues in a more universal way.

Wishing to complete the Split Mask video, a friend offered me a deadline to present it at a private poetry salon in January 2016, and so I locked myself away for weeks producing it. I added a number of effects. Looking through an old hard drive, I found various photo shoots in the split mask taken over the years (I use myself as model because I'm free - can't afford to pay actors or models). I also had an echocardiogram done in 2014, and obtained a medical CD of it because I wanted to use it in a videopoem - it was challenging, but somehow I transferred some footage onto my Mac (the medical imagery is Windows-based). I woke one morning knowing that I had to use that footage in Split Mask. The echocardiogram clips are untouched: the blue is blood from my veins, the red is oxygenated blood pumping out through my arteries, the pace is the actual pulse of my heart.

Split Mask, then, is a layered poem and performance videopoem.


I have a chapbook, Performance Poems (Epopeia Press 2016), with the poem, 'Split Mask' that I sell at videoperformances around town. Please contact me through my website if you would like to purchase the chapbook: http://brendaclews.com
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Video: Two Poems by Linda Stitt from her, 'Acting My Age.'

Here are two poems from Linda Stitt's, 'Acting My Age,' and read by her at her poetry book launch at Portobello on April 13, 2013. At 81 years of age, she remains a beautiful woman and poet who I am honoured to know through her ongoing series, Portobello Saturdays, in Toronto.

In the first scene, Ann-Marie Boudreau plays an Oscar drum while Linda reads. Ann-Marie's music and voice is something I could rave about too.

Two astounding women artists!


direct link: Poems by Linda Stitt from 'Acting My Age.' (note: I'm now using another of my YouTube accounts to host my videos of poets, musicians and artists)

I'm a guest poet this afternoon at the lovely Portobello Saturdays that are hosted by Linda Stitt and Peter Solmes. Poetry, jazz, a lovely restaurant with good food, it's always such a pleasure to go to this event.

995 Bay St., north of Wellesley on the East side, from 1:30pm - 4:30pm.

Because of my feature this afternoon, I went searching through my video footage and thankfully found some I'd taken of Linda's launch last April. A little video I put together - it's just over 2 minutes.



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Nik Beat @Videofag


direct link: Nik Beat @Videofag

A clip of Nik Beat performing a poem at Videofag in Kensington Market in Toronto on March 16, 2013. A live performance. Videoed and edited by Brenda Clews.

This one is a complete enough poem that I added it to my videopoetry playlist at YouTube, and am tagging it as a videopoem.

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'First Death in Nova Scotia': John Scott's adaptation of a poem by Elizabeth Bishop


direct link: First Death in Nova Scotia: an adaptation of a poem by Elizabeth Bishop

John Scott's new cinepoem is strange and haunting and beautiful: 'First Death in Nova Scotia,' a new adaptation of an Elizabeth Bishop poem. John wrote in an email:

"I would love it if you could spread the word on your facebook page or blog. We're seeking a wide audience for it in an effort to build energy and credibility for a longer documentary we want to make on the poet Elizabeth Bishop. I know that you're a busy person and your help is definitely appreciated!"

With a death in my family last year, my 89 year old mother passed away peacefully in a nearby nursing home, and memories of a deceased second cousin, a middle-aged man, lying in a coffin in a house in England when I was perhaps eight years old, this cinepoem moved me in that profound way that gazing upon someone who has died does. The whiteness, the life etched in the features, the form that is already dissolving. And of course the tragedy, and an unearthly peace. Yet, as Scott's cinepoem shows with the animation, the voiceover, the poet who gazes upon death is also in the strange and mysterious realm of art-making, of an imaginative excess that forms metaphors of living, and the ability to withstand through those metaphors. The paintings whose eyes move, the shot stuffed loon on its iced lake of white marble who watches with a knowing that the child understands, such metaphors (both verbally in Bishop's poem and visually in Scott's enactment) enable a coherence and meaning in the comprehension of our impermanent lives.


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'Ink Ocean' performed live at HOWL@QSpace



Ink Ocean: http://youtu.be/w4Xs2dIt2m4

On Nov 25, 2012, I performed my prose poem 'Ink Ocean,' on the Gulf Oil Spill, as one of the featured poets at Nik Beat's HOWL@QSpace in Toronto. I had memorized the prose poem. The image of the ink drawing, from which the poem emerged, only appears in the still for the video (I've included an image at the end of this post for you). I'm actually quite happy with the performance itself - passionate, intense, and yet clear enunciation.

Ink Ocean is about the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels, or 210 million gallons, of crude oil were spilled into the sea due to an explosion of an off-shore drilling rig. It remains the largest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Over 5 months, hydro-carbon eating bacteria devoured 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas in the Gulf, and then stopped. Despite the massive cleaning efforts by the oil industry and governments, and the efforts of the bacteria, as of 2012, 40% of the spill remains in the waters.

This prose poem began as writing in an ink drawing. It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for this reading.  It is an experimental poem structually. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of many voices, and perspective shifts.

There are two parts. The first is on the oil spill, and the second is about love in a world bordering on oblivion, a world that's half spirit. We are in the 6th Mass Extinction on the earth. This is the backdrop.

The poem starts out in the Gulf and moves with the Gulf Stream to the Atlantic Ocean where it becomes a love poem. Can we love in a world inviting extinction? Yes, of course we can, and must.

---
With thanks to Nik Beat, Q Space and Luciano Iacobelli. It was a great evening.




Ink Ocean, 2010, 13" x 16", India ink on archival paper. My prose poem on the Gulf Oil Spill, Ink Ocean, emerged from this drawing. The poem was revised in 2012.

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an écriture,... a dream writing


an écriture,... a dream writing (an unlisted videopoem)

Écriture. Handwriting, yes. But this is Dream Writing. You can't quite read it, but you know it is important.

A test clip for a video poem I am working on called, 'Palmistry, a Psalm.' This was taken with a Canon GL2 that I bought in 2003, and I greatly magnified one corner of the clip. My naughty, no playful, kitten was put in the bathroom for the videoing and, wouldn't you know it, her dear bleet is quite plaintively clear. If I use any of the footage from today in the actual videopoem, not sure how I will handle that. Lol.

But it's all part of the dream............


(also, titles made using the YouTube 'Enhancements' option)
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Retreat to Beautiful Objects


direct link: Retreat to Beautiful Objects

When I retreated to my world of beautiful objects.

She was a dream, not the mask but how I composed her in Tangled Garden.

A vegetative force, Nature, birth, life, death, decay, mulch, compost. Beautiful and frightening. Strange dreams, the unknowable body itself. Life consuming life to live, plant or animal. Cells fuse to make new life, new connections, new hybrids. Wood/trees; metal/circuitry; bone/grafts; skin/love. Teeming presence.

I come from a jungle, the nature I write of is not pastoral, pretty. A fibrous network of vast connections. Natural processes. We are Nature looking at herself through her own eyes. This slip of consciousness viewing the universe for a knowing moment, soon to be lost. How can we forget the hungry ghosts, the floral opera singing in us?

An ecology of consciousness. An understanding of the parasitical and angelic. Leave the savageries. Our worlds of beautiful objects call us to retreat.

_________________________________________________________




What I wrote at YouTube:

...to celebrate the unexpected popularity of my long videopoem, Tangled Garden, http://youtu.be/OG37qWh4rTM, a slow art film of a triptych of earth poems, Surreal, mythopoetic, a rhizoma of images, metaphors, explorations, philosophies (with English subtitles). I had originally thought to paint a Tangled Garden painting to give away when the video reached 1500 views (my daughter's claimed the painting, so some other celebratory gift), and began making a video of the process of the painting.

There's lots of aspects here - from the drawing and painting itself to photos of the making of the papier-mache mask, to a dance in the woods which inspired the figures in the painting. The fishnet gloves - don't you adore them! - will now be featured in any future art videos. I just love them!

The writing came out of a dream I was having during a nap when I was considering what to say in the video. It's more of a piece about the poetic process in the poems in Tangled Garden, what sort of consciousness is holding sway. I woke up laughing. I felt a bit strange laughing all by myself in a dark room late at night for the recording for sure!

Prefer the video without the subtitles, but they're there for the hearing impaired, those who like to read along, and for YouTube automatic translation into one of 25 languages if the viewer is not fully conversant in English.

Music is Pierre-Marie Cœdès' 'Whirling Thoughts,' from his album, "Insomnia": http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a94667/insomnia (with his permission). It is a great album, do go and listen.





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Beginning a painting as a gift for 'Tangled Garden' (47sec)

I have been absolutely flabbergasted that 'Tangled Garden' has reached like 800 views already - a 22min art film of 3 long poems, unheard of - and I want to celebrate!!! So I am offering a painting as a gift. I will choose someone by raffle out of the many comments this videopoem has received. If you like the videopoem, do let me know that you've watched it by leaving a comment on Tangled Garden at YouTube:

  direct link: http://youtu.be/OG37qWh4rTM

Leaving a comment here so I can add you to the raffle here is fine... the drawing or painting I'm working on as a gift is 18" x 24" on triple primed canvas sheet that you can pin to the wall or mount on board and then frame - this video is a test run. I am going to try to make a better video of the painting in process! yes! It's quite a bit of work, a painting, and a video - but you, my audience, are more than worth it!!)

Many thanks! xoxoxoxo ♥♥♥

Little 47 second clip I made today to see if making a video of the process of the drawing/painting might be interesting (not sure if it would be of interest to you, the viewer - if there's not much of a response, I won't go to the trouble of hooking up a camera but will just work on the painting).


direct link to this on Facebook

Later: Where it's at past midnight. Cell phone pic. If you don't leave a comment before this painting is gifted, don't worry! I'll offer another at 5000 views. :)



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I thought no-one would take the time to watch Tangled Garden

I am humbled and amazed by these responses to my latest and most ambitious and longest videopoem, Tangled Garden. I thought no-one would take the time to watch it, and I am still taken aback that anyone has. I have a confession to make, I save these comments for bleak days. You have no idea how you inspire me and how much I love you all.

Francois Caroline writes: "Yes this film is good, I am a French poet, writing all day long, but I have never seen such a beautiful creation."

Pierre-Marie Cœdes writes: "I am astounded by so much intelligent creativity : poem, recitation, body performance, imagery, effects, editing, the music with entrancing voice ... all this has led me into an hypnotic voyage, guided by an entrancing voice depicting a world of sensations, inside invisible universal actions, kaleidoscope beings... I just could not take my eyes off the rapture of the incessant movements of the beautiful energized figures in motion ... and ... and ... this is a real masterpiece of art in motion, the expression of a human spirit entangled in so many nature forces, creating, destroying, returning ...

Read the explanation of the author, Brenda Clews, if you do not want to lose your senses ...

Awesome and astounding ..."

Bill Sprague writes: "I just finished watching it. Oh My God, Brenda !! -- That was AMAZING.. I have not had the pleasure to absorb anything so powerful in at least a dozen years. Spiritual, mystical, classically timeless... flowers fly with my standing ovation. Excellent Work !!!"



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 impromtu 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.

A blog post describing the making of Tangled Garden.

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Almost There!

I did some very simple things to my 22 minute triptych of nature poems, Tangled Garden, and now have to wait for 9 hours of rendering! Then I'll save to a video format for uploading, which will likely take another 9 hours, then upload to YouTube, and wait for their processing to complete, so, tweets, peeps, and friends, maybe this project that's taken the greater part of a year will be live by Thursday!

Finishing it is on my 2012 list, and yay, almost there! Only 3 more pre-planned projects to go! Colour of Near Death, Wear White Paint for the Moon, and Double Lotus, the last two are performance pieces, which are hard for me to justify doing, given my age, but ageism is not my problem (it's yours if you discriminate against older women), onward, fearless, fearless!


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A Solstice Greeting and Wish for You

Dear friends,

...dear beautiful people in my life... you all mean so much to me, you cannot know.

...this year I thought I had nothing to share (art or poem or video), but, then, Shadow Cave is about reaching into the darkness in ourselves and bringing what is hidden in us to light, which is sort of like the return of the sun in the darkest moment.

It's a small offering, and perhaps too long to watch. Don't worry if you don't, I don't mind and I'll still love you. I did subtitle it, so click on the cc if you'd like to read along, or translate into another language.


direct link: Shadow Cave

It's based on a real ritual I did in 1995 and wrote an extensive entry in my journal about. I re-wrote the ritual as a sort of modern fairy tale. It's about integrating ourselves at our deepest levels, however we image that. Sometimes what is in our shadows is not anything 'sinful' at all! It's only what we've repressed in ourselves... which could be our recognizing how luminescent we really are!

Shadows and dopple gangers appear in this videopoem, as ever. :) Please forgive. (I just can't help being multiple, ya know!)

I offer it to the light within us.

On this Solstice, Festival of the Lights, and for the auspicious coming year, many blessings to you, wishes for good health, prosperity, good fortune in work, relationships, family, and the success of all your creative endeavours,

love, Brenda


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Rehearsals for a videopoem



Perhaps I like to prevent the viewer from forming a generalized view of whatever my 'identity-presence' is. Part of this is accomplished through humour, which distances recursively, meaning boomerangs in its iterations. The selves operate this way. We are crowds. You, too, are composed of opposites and different stagnancies and transformations at various speeds in vectors as you focus in this moment, here. How often do we cystalize?

When are we ever all in one place?

At death, perhaps. But, by then, we have fled elsewhere.

So, rehearsals. Preparations for the public show. Experiments, tests, and yet are we not rehearsing every moment of our lives? Learning how to live. In our becoming art?


Rehearsal Two is what I thought I'd like to do. Strong light so you can see only half the face, all black otherwise. Both were shot with the internal iSight camera in the iMac, the first via Photobooth, and the second via iMovie. Not great detail, but ok for test runs.

In some ways I prefer the setting and tone of Rehearsal One, but the Two has a stark simplicity that I like too. Rehearsal Three, a combination of Rehearsal Two and another one I did in Photobooth is a bit strange, and my sense of humour has crept out. It's my favourite, however, and so I put it first.



Above, the link to the first rehearsal, when I hadn't quite memorized the prose poem.

Below, the one I did when I got home on Wednesday night, and that was turned into black and white for Rehearsal Three, up above.


_



The final version of Voicings is here, and it is similar to Rehearsal Three above, only I didn't obscure the realism of the camera and instead allow myself to be seen.

Where I read the poem on an open stage:


Courtney Park Library, Nov. 26th - GREAT POETRY EVENT!

From left to right, Nik Beat, Brenda Clews, Brandon Pitts, ParisK Black, Jennifer Hosein, Tallulah Doll, and Susan Munro... Brandon's book of poetry, Pressure to Sing, was launched, and the rest of us read or recited or sang in an interspersed open stage (between the three book launches)... it was a great afternoon!

And a daytime shot like this... rare.


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PL: P(ink) L(ady)



direct link: PL: P(ink) L(ady)

PL: P(ink) L(ady)

once, the sakura tree
blossoming cloud 
of pink

blood,
like split cherries

a pulp of wounds

I, fleshy stone fruit
soft under his fists

brazen, the road
where I walk

brazen, my ripe cherry
nectar

-



A creative treatment on the theme of violence against women. The ending is meant to be positive - she's no longer hiding, is defiantly living from her source of nectar.

Shot with an iPhone4, and edited in FCE. The text had a lot of treatment, and took as long to create as the film itself. Normally I don't like text in videopoems, unless the text is a pictorial element in the composition.

The track, Chinese Sunrise, by bjarneo on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/bjarneo/bjarne-o-chinese-sunrise


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A Dance Videopoem: Shadow Cave



direct link: Shadow Cave.  [The video is subtitled, so you can read along if you like, or have Google automatically translate the text into one of 25 languages. The option appears after you press play. If the cc in the play bar is red, the subtitle track is on; if black, it's not. Mouse click to toggle. Click on this image to see the steps to opening the subtitle/caption file:


This videopoem is a postmodern fairy tale. Sort of Jungian. Integrating the shadow into the self. I re-wrote a piece I'd written many years ago of an inner journey though a land of strange figures representing repressed selves.

And I did everything in this video. What a lot of work! Shot the clips with a tripod. Edited the footage so many times that it's like a Samurai sword, beaten, and wrapped onto itself, over and over again. At one point I so overloaded my video editing software that it crashed every few minutes. But I pushed it, until the effects I was seeking emerged.

That she becomes quite pixelated in it is fine - it's all reflection, image, celluloid, burned light, a digitally composed moving image.

As an artist, I cannot help but think of the screen as a canvas, and so I expect that some of the all-over appearance is influenced by Color Field Painting, like a Larry Poons, has an abstract art quality to it. Meaning, while there were probably 50 cuts, I didn't do any zooming or duplicating or other fascinating video possibilities.

Also the tribal influence is strong. That's my childhood in an African jungle in Zambia, it comes out from time to time. This is the first video that I've attempted to create a sound track for. I used rattles, a singing bowl, a bell, two different drums. Since it's all quite primitive, the story, the dance, even the reading has a colloquial quality to it, I wasn't too worried about melody. My postmodern fairytale needed a strange and primitive soundscape, which it certainly has. ::smiles::

The dance footage was shot for my forthcoming videopoem, a triptych, Tangled Garden. (Which I have been working on for 5 months and hopefully will one day finish.) But, see, I had this abstract pastel clip that emerged from another project... oh, background, I thought, so went looking among my clips for something that might work with it. That's how it goes...






I enjoy the stills, too. Crazy, how'd I create those scenes? Seriously, it's like it creates itself. Magic behind and magic in front. Movie magic, that is!


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Wear White Paint for the Moon -reading at CENtRAL


direct link: Wear White Paint for the Moon (*this video is subtitled* -after you hit play, hover your mouse over the CC in the playbar, when it turns red, the subtitle file is loaded and you can read along with the prosepoem if you wish- red is on; black is off)

This reading of my prosepoem, Wear White Paint for the Moon, took place at the CENtRAL last night, a pub in Mirvish Village in Toronto, and while I wasn't particularly happy with it, I did have enormous fun making the video, and quite like it now.

With tripod on camera, the angle was unchangeable. I layered multiple tracks of the same clip with lots of filters and then pulled in some footage I had shot of the full moon last August. The moon is quite bouncy in parts, and yet matches the words in those parts, which I found delightfully synchronous.

The background of moon and clouds was my wild imagination at home when I was editing the video. While it would have been wonderful to encase the poets that night in a stage set of lunar light and wispy cloud moon veils, alas, no, we stood on a small stage with a screen behind us. The scenery is a product of the magic of film editing.

I spent hours making detailed by-the-second subtitles for this video so you can read the words while you listen, if you like, and have Google translate into another language if that is better for you.

Background music - 'Satellite Two,' by Professor Kliq, from his album on Jamendo, "Athene's Theory of Everything: The Original Soundtrack."





Wear White Paint for the Moon is a poem that represents jump starting a drained engine. This poem was originally written in response to a prompt at the now defunct Big Tent Poetry. One of the hardest pieces I've ever written due to a writer's block. So I used a technique. While walking on dark streets staring at the moon, I spoke into the 'voice memo' on my iPhone about the moon and later transcribed it. From that jumble, I wrote the poem (Yeats wrote all of his poems this way -prose first, from which he crafted his brilliant poems). You can read the original prose passage and responses by the Big Tent community of poets (who I miss) here: The Blocked Poet Strips Herself. Further, getting myself to the venue on Saturday night to read was very difficult, and I have to admit, I was into my 2nd large 'Creemore ale on tap' by the time I got up to read. :giggles:
_

Further note on the subtitles: Once I learned how to make a subtitle file, no matter how time-consuming, I promised I would do this for all my future videopoems. It's not just the languages (Google offers translation into 25 languages), but I also have received complaint that watching a video with a voiceover of poetry, which is condensed, rarified language, packed with meaning in sparse phrases, is too difficult without the text. This way, the viewer has a choice to watch with, or without. It's the perfect solution!

If the subtitle file is not working, please let me know. If you don't like it, hover your mouse over the CC in the playbar until the CC turns black (red is on; black is off), and then the text is gone. Thanks!


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The Wall at Moving Poems

Thank you, Dave Bonta, for featuring The Wall at Moving Poems on September 7th!

Yes, I embedded his webpage in my blog post. And, not only is the videopoem playable here, but I just left a thank you note for him via this embedded page and it appeared over there simultaneously. Personally, I think it's very cool.

(If you have an email subscription or are on an RSS feed like Google Reader or whatever, you'll have to click in to the post to see this beauty.)


Moving Poems




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A One Minute Videopoem (with some lines from): Dale Favier's 'Mask'

direct link to videopoem: Mask. Best to watch fullscreen if you can.

"...the mask was exactly what she was searching for, exactly 
what she needed: a face threaded over her face, a light 
threaded over her light. 

You speak, and the mask begins to speak, 
and the listening takes fire."

Dale Favier: Mask (link to his original blog post).

 Slipping away, between
 restraints.

Voices, performance, video, Brenda Clews.
_
Dale just had a book of poetry published, 'Opening the World, and while the lines I've quoted aren't from his book, the video is a celebration of Dale's poetry, with its brilliances and depths.


Foraging around my remaining hard drives, I came across a 17 second clip from a dance practice a few months ago that I still find intriguing. In it, I wrap my face in fabric, making a mask.

Starting with that clip, I copied, layered, lengthened - basically played. Then I added a minibit of the thunderstorm you saw in The Wall, looping some footage of lightning flashing through a tree. Last night, on my iPhone, I recorded the poem over and over. Today I imported the tracks into GarageBand and decided the use them all -as a background, a sort of chorus, a room full of people where you might feel the need to wear a mask. But the voices are reciting Dale's poem and my little ending. Then I picked one of those voices to dominate the reading. I hope it works to your ear. At about a minute, it's possibly my shortest videopoem. I enjoyed moving between colour and black and white and layering the figure. All in all, while making this videopoem took far longer than I anticipated, I'm happy with it. And sure do hope Dale likes it, too.
_
Update, Sept 12th. Dale posted Mask at his blog, and wrote that I made this mask:
...riffing on a blog post of mine. Amazing.

It's one of the deepest pleasures, having someone take your work and make something new with it. Art to me is nothing more nor less than conversation. I have no interest in making objects, per se: I only want to talk to people: to them and through them and with them and by them.

Elves began it, of course, waking trees up and teaching them to speak and learn their tree-talk. They always wished to talk to everything, the old Elves did."
I'll include my comment here, too:

We all inspire each other. I love the word, resonate, and that's what it is. Bachelard, in The Poetics of Space, says the poetic image enters us, our consciousness, our psyches, and resonates in all the depths, and I've always felt that was it, that's what happens. A pebble dropped in a deep well. A tuning fork reverberating. That's how your images in that piece of writing were for me.

The body under your healing fingers, or the feline curl of your cat, or your pulse against her pulse just under her ear, or Ahab, or the slant of light. And then the mask, a face threaded with light, that reverberated deeply. In the videopoem the mask of echoes, reflections, multiples, resonated into Burkas, and bandages, and even how shy I am in rooms of people and how I want to cover myself. Then how our forms themselves are moments, chrysalises, weavings of electricity and earth as the elements move through us, masks for our spirits. The tree that I open and close with and have underneath the room throughout the video, shudders with lightning.

_
While I'm copying in comments from other sites here, it's easier for me to collect them this way, I'll add another exchange from Facebook (before it disappears in the endless streaming wall):


Ann Marcaida Love it! I think not only of personas, but also of wounded veterans and the recent face transplant patients. Very timely work. I should also add that I love the rich fabric that decorate your stage.



Brenda Clews Thank you, Ann... yes, I found the footage -it was a 17sec clip- strange, too. What was I doing? I became not-me in that fabric I wrapped around my head, peering out a Burka-like gap. 
It reminded me of everything you've mentioned, and women who wear the 'full veil,' are buried alive in fabric, and oh, head wounds, surgeries, so many things. Something ominous in that head-wrapping, like taking on the strange incantations of an Ancient Egyptian mummy.

But also the mundane - our own daily masks. In a room full of people, the way I made the layered sound track, I disappear into a mask of sorts, too. The clip reminded me of situations in which my shyness was painful.

  

Then, to wrap this with another layer of potential meaning, Dale's poetry brings the transcendance into the moving-image, into the video, and I sought to have that paradox evident. An entrapment that is a release. The light is luminescent, like the beautiful lines of poetry.

The woman who hid herself, became herself. The woman who gave up her ego, found release. Reminds me a little of a great book I have been really influenced by, The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was became herself.

And sometimes our masks are Masks of God or the Divine. Dale's lines point in that direction for me.

So, between the visual imagery as it moves through its minute of time, I had hoped many divergent and paradoxical aspects of the mask, to paraphrase Dale's lines, like 'threaded light over her face' would emerge in the viewer's imagination.



Perhaps this videopoem has been mulling in my subconscious,
I made this photopoem out of some stills from that footage a few months ago.

Just a couple more comments over at Facebook that I wanted to keep but can't transfer to a comment here without losing the urls, of having the laborious task of linking them again:


  • Brenda Clews Facebook will not make YouTube videos a live link. Puts hands on hips, shakes finger at The Book of Faces.
    September 11 at 10:38pm · 

  • Brenda Clews Oh, but The Book of Faces *will* make it a live link in a comment! Go figure.
    http://youtu.be/dq85uul9V4Q


    www.youtube.com
    ‎"...the mask was exactly what she was searching for, exactly what she needed: a...See More


    September 11 at 10:40pm ·  · 

  • Stirling Davenport I really like the voices in this one so much. Makes a very interesting melange of words.
    September 11 at 11:38pm ·  ·  1 person

  • Brenda Clews You know, Stirling, I do these videos off in my own little corner and have no idea if anything resonates.... so I am especially appreciative of your sensitive response to the track of voices, one voice reading the same lines over and over, all put together so it became a party of voices, which I really did work on for far too long. :) Thank you, thank you. ♥
    September 11 at 11:55pm ·  ·  1 person

  • Pierre-Marie Cœdes Very surrealistic Brenda, impressive and awesome to look at and listen to. So much excitement in your creations. Thank you for sharing ♥♥♥
    September 12 at 9:02am · 

  • Brenda Clews Pierre-Marie, what a sweet comment, thank you! ♥♥ I enjoy layering my videopoems with images that are echoes and reflections and multiples. :) Life is like this, in the unity we are, when I think of you, for instance, I have a welatschuung of your music, comments, photos of the incredible home you grew up in, photos (at least as a presence) on Barbara's trips to France, a nexus of different types of images, sonic or visual or thoughtful. This is my approach in videopoems with whatever images I'm working with. I'm a little uncomfortable using myself as subject matter, but, hey, I don't charge modelling fees, so I'm free to myself! ::laughing:: But it's most fun when it's finished! So glad you came and saw my bit of weekend madness!!!!!!


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"Green Goddess" Masque


direct YouTube link: "Green Goddess" Masque
"Chthonic goddess of the greening earth. Wrinkled, like tree bark, painted, an exotic glade. Process, the recycling of Nature, life emerging from death. An organic art. The mask's fronds as if growing out of the forest floor in the Spring. Papier-mache, mulch: paper, or leaves. The face as landscape; the face carrying the landscape with it. Flower colours framing her face; the iridescence of insects, sheen of dragonfly. Feathery wings, plumed serpent, vestiges of living vines. A vision of a Nature spirit, Summer Solstice, a Midsummer Night's Dream. Shaman of the forest. Tutelary guide in the rainforest. Jungle of the imagination. Then the Surreality of the sky-blue mask on the greening gold fields of her face: I offer you a masked mask."

After the papier-mâché green goddess masque was finished, I wrote some of the thoughts I had while making it. That became the prose poem.

Last Spring I had wanted to make a dancing video with the mask and the prose poem, but it didn't happen until a few days ago. The footage is from a 4 min clip of the only usable footage from a shoot in High Park in Toronto with my daughter not actually on camera, but affecting things.

A blog post from 2009 with photos documenting the process of making the masque, along with the writing: http://brendaclews.blogspot.com/2009/11/green-goddess-papier-mache-masque.html

This video is part of my multi-media work, 'Green Fire': http://www.brendaclews.com/green-fire

The background birds and forest track is a mix I made mostly from http://freesound.org/

__

In a class once, where the professor had taken us through a very dense reading of a movie, someone asked, 'Did the director think of all that when they made the movie?' While we would like our work, poems, photographs, artwork, videos, to stand on their own, sometimes we also like to discuss some of the thoughts we had while composing them.

I would ask that you please not consider this personal essay as an explanation of the videopoem, though. The response and thoughts of the viewer can and should differ from my own - the artist is never responsible for the meaning of a work, only the viewer, reader, audience has that privilege.

A good poem, for me, is always a repository of a body of knowledge. A poem is a condensation of part of our history, be that political, social, personal, or intellectual. A poem carries a body of knowledge with it, and this knowledge can be unlocked by the reader/viewer who cares to delve into the background of the poem's images.

All I'm doing here is talking a little of my thought process while making the masque and composing the videopoem. Some of the knowledge I have gathered and woven into this piece. Your responses to the final product, the videopoem, will, of course, be different.

Here are some of my meandering notes:



My masque wears the landscape of the green goddess. I sought to create a figure representing the processes of life, death, recycling/rebirth in the performance - through the costume with its mask, the movement, and the prose poem. I hoped to achieve a videopoem that was ethereal, earthy, surreal and entertaining.

In the process of making the masque, planning a videopoem, sewing a costume, and the 30 hours of editing the footage into the video you see here, many thoughts crossed my mind. I'll briefly touch on a few themes: a resonance with the Green Man motif, Minerva's owl, a little on subjectivities or notions of the self, that this is also a Solstice celebration, and about my discomfort with producing 'creative movement/dance' videos at my age.

My "Green Goddess" masque reminds me of the Green Man: a drawing or sculpture "of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit." The Green Man is usually an architectural ornament on churches, buildings or gates in parks, and so on. The article in Wikipedia continues, "The Green Man motif has many variations. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities....Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring." The 'Green Goddess' masque has leaf-like fronds in her headdress and the colours of the wilds on her painted face. My prose poem refers to many of the same vegetative processes of nature. The dance is meant to be of a nature spirit. She is like a counterpoint to the Green Man. They are fertility figures, emblems of the fecundity of Nature.

I included the sound of an owl hooting; though the video was shot in daytime, I created darker clips in the editing to create a motion of light and dark throughout the video. Always in the jungle there is danger (I lived in an African jungle in Zambia as a child so know this), and the owl carries that haunting in its birdcall. The owl is also sacred to the Ancient Roman goddess, Minerva: "She was the virgin goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the inventor of music. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl, which symbolizes her ties to wisdom." All of which is appropriate to this videopoem.

Being a 21st century woman, concepts of subjectivities, construction of the self, the ego, in the midst of the natural abundances of the earth, the way as individuals we are part of the larger processes of life and death is important. Hence the masque. Who are we?

During the days it took to make the papier-mâché mask, I thought about how our masks enable us to be who we are. Our performative aspects reveal us to ourselves and others. We construct ourselves through our masques, and reveal ourselves more fully to each other when we are disguised. Yes, I know it is a bit of a double take, and the opposite approach to the Buddhistic peeling of layers of the self to arrive at essence. Yet, like the Buddhist practitioner sits in the semi-lotus pose of the Buddha meditating, and thus takes on the pose (or mask) of the Buddha to achieve selflessness, the masque also removes individual personality and reveals the archetypal nature of our essence.

Masqued or un-masqued, wearing a mask to represent the deity, to represent the spirit being called, or peeling away layers, perhaps we arrive at the same realization of 'selfless self.'


A forest doppelgänger appeared in the footage, in the imprint of a large woman of leaves, a reflection of the dancer, and I have no idea how that happened, and was not able to produce it in other sections, but I really grokked it. That vegetative figure has resonances with resurrection motifs, perhaps even the horror genre of movies when plants take on human form and come to life. A bit humorous, yes. Yet it is as if the masqued shamanic dancing called the spirit forth. A large figure emerges like a forest angel, the manifested double of the woman dancing a medicine dance, a potent force of the power of nature, a little dangerous if not directed properly by the shaman to become the energy of a spirit of healing. The appearance of a doppelgänger has made me very happy with this little video.


It is nearly Solstice, and a celebration of the sun at its zenith in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere here in Canada. I edited the video to culminate in a moment of solar worship, an adoration of the light of life, perhaps the figure becomes a solar priestess for a moment (for she has long since stopped being me), along with the overall representations of the fertility, decay and recycling of greening Nature.

The video is delicately layered and looks best on HD. Different parts of it play in differing speeds of slow motion. The video itself is composed like a compressed poem of images, and is one of my best video poems, I feel. It is, of course, not without humour.

If I'd had this technology 20 years ago! It is hard to produce 'dance videos' at my age, especially in a culture that focuses on youthful beauty, and while there are two more planned (since musicians have sent me music for specific performance pieces), I may not be able to do these types of "creative movement/dance" videos much longer. If I get those last two done, this year will have seen 5 dance videos, wow. A long-time dream, to do this, to create poetry dance videos.

The woman in the "Green Goddess" masque, therefore, wishes you the courage to realize your dreams.


-
Joining July's Festival of the Trees with this video poem on the shaman of the forest.

Little update: I also took this video poem with me last Sunday, along with some photos of the making of the masque, to a Digital Storytelling workshop (I can't find a direct link, but it's at NFB Mediatheque) with my independent film group at NFB (National Film Board), and was surprised at the positive comments from other participants and NFB staff that I received. Unfortunately, the computer I was working on there froze, so I don't have the piece I produced to show you - though I will link to the video slideshows produced by our group when they become available.
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Birthdance (updated)


direct link: birthdance

A few weeks ago I composed another version of this video slideshow of my birth paintings using iPhoto. Then I gave the reading of the birth poem a little reverb, and added a background of chanting (taken from a section of the poem and layered and looped) birthdance but sometimes it sounds like earthdance. Each painting is held longer and is therefore clearer than in the Picasa version I did last year, though of course I am also pleased with the Picasa version.

Paintings and poem may be found at my website: http://www.brendaclews.com/birth-paintings.

On the paintings:

THE BODY IS FOR BLOSSOMING

...pigment of flesh flowing under my fingers, magenta, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, cyan green, cadmium yellow, dark violet, colour so rich it's almost edible, bodyscapes of colour, landscapes of fertility, erupting in the swirl of water and paint...

When I was pregnant, my body changed in fundamental and drastic ways. It was a crisis: the freedom of an old self was dying to make way for the mother I would become.

The "Birth Series" paintings became a visual journey of my changing body, a way to comprehend what I was undergoing in the tumble of hormones as my belly grew. The paintings focus on the woman who conceives and carries a baby into life, who nourishes and awaits the child who will hopefully emerge from the nine-month gestation of her body like a dream become real.

In reaction to an increasing invisibility in the world: the averted gaze, perhaps arising out of a cultural discomfort with the swollen belly, I wished to present the pregnant body as sensual and sacred. Despite my desire to confound the categories of alluring woman and maternal body, I found myself deep in the mystery of creation itself.

At the beginning of the series, the body is portrayed clearly; as the forces of labour, birth and then breastfeeding unfold, the clarity shifts into flowing colours suggesting the transformative experience that carrying and delivering and breastfeeding a baby is.

These paintings are about a rite of passage, about the strangest body on earth, about the mind-blowing transformation of skin, belly, heart and perception of the self, as a woman ripens and delivers her fragile and beautiful fruit, the newborn, a miracle of the world.

On the poem:

BIRTHDANCE took two years to write. In 1987, after my first child, my son, was born, I tried to write about birth. At the time, I was unable to find any poetry or literature by women on what giving birth 'felt' like, on their inner birthing experience, and I wasn't sure how to express those powerful birthing hours. It took some years, and many revisions as I worked towards how to express this powerful moment of my life, and finally chose to allow the stages of labour to structure the poem. Each woman has a different experience of birth, the many stories, poems and artwork by women in the last decade or two have been an important sharing of what was previously hidden.
__
The Birth Paintings and BIRTHDANCE were painted and composed from 1986-1989.
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Writings of 'Who'



direct link: Writings of 'Who'

A videopoem performance piece.

For a backdrop, I slung a rich, red Chinese satin cloth over a room divider, pulled my iMac up close, and recorded a recitation of the poem ten times in PhotoBooth, each time adding more jewelry, a swath of orange beads across the neck and shoulder, a rhinestone dangly tiara. The excesses of perhaps too much expression decreased as I became tired and the speaking of the poem emerged more clearly as it rendered through me.

Besides preparing for a performance piece, I used a number of techniques and filters in the editing of the videopoem. In PhotoBooth, Apple's fun camera still and video program, I used a spotlight plugin, which was cool; unfortunately Photobooth's resolution is low. The video was imported into Final Cut Express where I layered it in curious and idiosyncratic ways, adding a vignette to the base layer, and color emboss to the other one. Both those layers also received a maximum de-interlace flicker filter. The lens flare title and credits were done in iMovie and added as tiny clips to the timeline. I used FCEs scrolling text option for the poem, adding a light rays video filter to it. Finally I added a caustics render video generator track to the whole piece.

__

For textual influences, in comments on the original poem post I wrote:

Kristeva did a lecture at the University of Toronto in the late 1990s on the question of 'Who' that I attended, but didn't connect then to the 'who' of the muse. Blanchot's 'The One Who Was Standing Apart From Me?'... is my particular inspiration here.

On the 'coded' "unconscious" of the Freudian/Lacanian school: I, too, incline towards a phenomenology of consciousness, whatever that may be. How often do I access my own personal symbols to write? References that might be opague to others. From Célan I learnt much on interweaving the personal myths in such a way that my symbol stream is only hinted at and whose full meaning remains just out of reach.

Kristeva is where I first learnt of the 'speaking subject,' the 'speaking voice.' Can we take it further to the 'writing subject,' the 'writing voice'? Though I don't want to get trapped in semiotics either.

John Walter wrote, in response to the poem, and it is worth quoting: "You ask the hard problem that Beckett asked throughout his entire oeuvre, especially the trilogy of novels Malone, Malloy Dies, and The UnNameable as well as his classic one man play, Krapp's Last Tape: "Who is the voice speaking within me, if it is not me, and it speaks when I don't, all my life, up until my last breath."

You pose it in a variety of fascinating ways here."

__


Poem, written in 2006; videopoetry performace, 2011.




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A Videopoem: Tones of Noir



direct link: Tones of Noir
music: Alex Bailey, 'Piano Improvisation No 7.'

Do poems wait to be born? A poem whittled out of thundering mist at Niagara Falls. The roar of the Falls, music, voice.


I wanted the voice to be as light as the mist, and as strange as a dream with noir elements. (Don't worry if you can't hear all the words -it's meant to be a bit ghostly, and you can read the words here.)

Tones of Noir

Numinosity
washes the sky.

Poems rise
out of thundering mist.

I think it is a crime.

She rushes by.

The water,
the power in falling.

Begin when it's in motion
and stop before it ends.

Mystical crystal spikes
of sun.

He waits.

We walk quickly
covering ourselves against the watcher.

_
Video I shot in Niagara Falls, Canada, a few days ago, edited in Final Cut Express, Video I shot in Niagara Falls, Canada, a few days ago, edited in Final Cut Express, and layered a few recordings of the poem I wrote for this piece.

Niagara Falls is magnificent!


Still from video:



_
I'm entering this in Big Tent Poetry's prompt this week. I read the prompt Wednesday night (had only 6 hours sleep since then, video poetry does that to me, sigh) and thought, hmnnn, enough? ...maybe.

::Smiling:: Thanks!



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Interstices


direct link: Interstices

A videopoem. I experiment with my own reflection (if I can see myself then I am a Descartian subject, though interspliced with a Deleusian thought-cast).

In the poem I reflect on our reflections of ourselves and how we can't see ourselves except in our art, which reflects us.

The words of the poem:

In the field of an'other,' reflecting on self-reflection. Who are we in our mirror-image? In a gallery of sculpture, do we become still? Stilled, turned-to-stone, despite time, age, change. Like those fizzures, splits, gaps, places of disintegration in the plaster, stone, metal carved and cast about me that occur in smooth moments of presence. Where our lives buckle, crumble, turn backwards to plunge on.

We are subjects who cannot behold ourselves.

We gaze upon ourselves
only
in our art.


Video: Brenda Clews (person/voice in clip, editor of video, poet, ya know the etc.): http://brendaclews.com

Sculpture: Theo Willemse's show, 'The Art of Form' at SPAZ I O dell'arte in September in Toronto: http://theowillemse.com

Music: Le Pandorien, 'Spirale noire op 2,' from his album, "Pandora Moon": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/44226

A different sort of gallery hop!

_

Stills from the video, showing a little of the process of making it:





The video is displayed in two screens. Both screens show exactly the same video clip. This is the screen on the right. The Final Cut Express filters are: Swing, Color Offset and RGB Balance.



This is the screen on the right, without any filters. This is what I started with.



This is the screen on the left. The Final Cut Express filters are: Noise Dissolve, Indent, Posterize, Vectorize Color, Band Slide, Swing, and Band Slide - 2. It is cropped tighter than the screen on the right.



This is the screen on the left, without any filters. This is what I started with. It is cropped tighter than the screen on the right.

Click on images for larger sizes - you can also go to Picasa to see them together.




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An Ecology of Earth


direct link: An Ecology of Earth. Watch in HD if you can.

A visual poem. The central part, the mandala section, the core. A visual metaphor for earth, the energy of earth. Shot in natural colour.
An Ecology of Earth

we become
what we pretend

what we promote
becomes true

beware of
irreversibilities

earthquaking mandala

how do we evolve

in patterns that connect
without destroying

perhaps the earth is
a fertilized egg
_
I used clips from the last song in "The Dreamer's Paradox," by JT Bruce: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/3317

The mandala sequence and the music matched with little editing, a synchronicity that amazed me. As I worked on expanding the piece, I added more clips from the same song.
_
This is the second video I have made from the same 20sec of original camera footage. It's of the tree outside my window and that is rooted in the urban clip of land that accompanies my apartment. I feel connected to that tree. The first video using the original 20sec footage, One Hand Clapping, a collaboration with AlphaCore, is so different to this one that you won't believe they're from the same clip.

(Soon I'll upload the original tiny clip of unadulterated, raw, unmanipulated footage, too. And post all three together.)

The poem, an edit of Relevant Knots, posted a week ago, is influenced by a reappraisal of the ideas of Gregory Bateson, particularly in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, and Mind and Nature: a necessary unity.



(I think I will use the tiny clip at the end as a 'signature' ending on my future videopoems - have to work on it a bit, see, if maybe, or maybe not, I do like it, though, and edited in the feel of a blinking earth eye.)


 below, icon links to my webpages
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One Hand Clapping


direct link: One Hand Clapping. Play in HD if you can.
"Often when he collaborated with John Cage, Cunningham would create a dance and Cage would compose the music — separately. Cunningham made no attempt to fit the dancers' movements to the music. Sometimes the performance was the first time they heard the music.

"Given a certain length of time, let’s say 10 minutes, I could make a dance which would take up 10 minutes and John Cage could make a piece of music that occupied the same amount of time, and we could put them together," Cage recalls.

"When Cage would play the piece, there would be moments when in the other way of working, I would have thought there should be a sound, but his sound would come perhaps just after what I had done. And it was like opening your mind again to another possibility. As John Cage said once, 'He does what he does, and I do what I do and for your convenience, we put it together.' I thought that was a remarkable way of thinking about it.""

from "Merce Cunningham: Dance at the Edge," an article by Renee Montagne on NPR.

Two autopoetic systems: my short film, Alphacore's music score, without any reference to each other as we separately created them. Each of our autopoetic systems closed from each other, selectively referring to their own environments.

Mine, abstracted footage of a tree at dusk when the light dims and the camera acts like the retinal cells, the rods, seeing essentially in black and white. Alphacore's a slow, simple, quiet, meditative piano solo with a dim voice in the background whose words we cannot quite hear - or is it yelping dogs or a bird call? To my ear the background chant sounds like 'help me.' The letters falling like rain in my film do, in the slow roll of credits, line up at the end as SOS. An accidental correlation in two separate creations brought together.

I titled our collaboration, without hearing the music, One Hand Clapping, since, I, in Toronto, and Alphacore, in Seattle, each creating our component to an agreed on time span, were like the clapping of one hand - the famous Zen koan meant to sent the logical mind into an impossible spin.

Our final product, the mix, matches in the way all aspects of the universe correlate, by accident. Only this is a designed accident.

And it doesn't match in the way each of us might have originally envisioned.

My video is uncharacteristic of my work thus far - it is abstract rather than figurative; a natural black and white rather than colour; the speed is slowed down to just above frame-by-frame and thus a little jerky while the letters fall so quickly as to be almost in fast-forward; and the letters in One Hand Clapping fall continuously carrying random meanings, unlike my usual work with whole poems or sections of poems.

Alphacore's music is usually the product of computer-generated transformations of text or images into sound - they are sonic landscapes of various sounds and instruments that form unusual experimental and avanteguard abstract soundscapes - in One Hand Clapping he plays the piano meditatively note by note, a scale ascending and partially descending, we hear the touch of fingers. He is more of an embodied musician than his more usual 'Deleuzian machine' music. Deleuze writes, in Anti-Oedipus, "A machine may be defined as a system of interruptions or breaks," and this is how I might describe Alphacore's music on the whole. He creates tracks where there is no subject or object, where the sounds interact with each other in nodes, in a series of interruptions that create a syncopated flow in a minimalist rhythmic space, like the famous metaphor of rhizomes we associate with Deleuzian philosophy.

In the final product of our collaboration, One Hand Clapping, a film with music/music with a film, we have two self-referential autopoetic systems, visual and auditory, interacting. How the viewer perceives this deliberately accidental pairing will refer to yet another autopoetic system whereby the collaboration of two artists becomes one experience.
__
* A defnition of autopoesis: "The generic term denoting the organization characterizing autopoietic machines / systems. The term "... simply means processes interlaced in the specific form of a network of productions of components which realizing the network that produced them constitute it as a unity." (Maturana and Varela)



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State of Video Rendering Tonight


(click for larger)
My state of rendering tonight - 26 layers, right now at 50% so I can see if it'll work. It takes nearly 3 hours each time to render so that I can watch it. I edited the prosepoem posted earlier for possible inclusion, as an audio recording, but I don't know if I'll add it or not. Jose Travieso's piano solo is so amazing, I don't want to disturb it with spoken words. If I do add the prosepoem, it'll be at the very end, and will push the video to about 9 minutes. As a boring art video, probably an extra minute or so won't matter, but I'll see. I just spent a few hours making a mini movie of two layers so that I could import it into this video and crop it to cover a thermostat, a crop that changes with all the colour variations of the video through its duration so you'll never know the thermostat was there. It is I who has to be satisfied, ultimately. I don't expect much feedback on this video, or high view counts.

Instead, I focus on making the best video I can given my level of expertise, my aesthetic standards and the material I have chosen to work with.

Creating takes time, and I accept that video-making, especially for someone like me who creates the palettes of the moving image as one would a painting, is a long and careful process. 


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Rendering, rendering...

Rendering, oh my life is rendering... what you see here only a small bit -  2 hours before I can watch it 'to see.' I hover over my work like a worrisome hen. And only at 50% resolution (any higher resolution and I'd be waiting days for every little bit to render).

What I'm working on has taken days, and will take days to render when it's finished, something like 30 hours, and the videopoem is sooooo boring! Oh, not the music. The solo piano of Jose Travieso is incredible. I decided not to interrupt his ecstatic playing with voice but to have words you can't quite read float over the screen. Of course I'll tell you what they are when I upload the video, if, if that day ever comes! The footage of me dancercizing in the living room leaves a lot to be desired, for sure. Originally I liked the funk of the ordinariness of it. My house shorts, dog-walking Summer clothes, baggy, unglamorous. But it all bores me now. My apartment is small and overstuffed. I've layered way too many filters. I am finickity, perfectionist, long, long hours without stopping. What is this strange obsession to finish what is dull?

click image for larger


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birthdance



direct link to YouTube: birthdance

In honour of Mother's Day. Paintings and poem may be found at my website: BIRTHDANCE

On the paintings:

THE BODY IS FOR BLOSSOMING

...pigment of flesh flowing under my fingers, magenta, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, cyan green, cadmium yellow, dark violet, colour so rich it's almost edible, bodyscapes of colour, landscapes of fertility, erupting in the swirl of water and paint...

When I was pregnant, my body changed in fundamental and drastic ways. It was a crisis: the freedom of an old self was dying to make way for the mother I would become.

The "Birth Series" paintings became a visual journey of my changing body, a way to comprehend what I was undergoing in the tumble of hormones as my belly grew. The paintings focus on the woman who conceives and carries a baby into life, who nourishes and awaits the child who will hopefully emerge from the nine-month gestation of her body like a dream become real.

In reaction to an increasing invisibility in the world: the averted gaze, perhaps arising out of a cultural discomfort with the swollen belly, I wished to present the pregnant body as sensual and sacred. Despite my desire to confound the categories of alluring woman and maternal body, I found myself deep in the mystery of creation itself.

At the beginning of the series, the body is portrayed clearly; as the forces of labour, birth and then breastfeeding unfold, the clarity shifts into flowing colours suggesting the transformative experience that carrying and delivering and breastfeeding a baby is.

These paintings are about a rite of passage, about the strangest body on earth, about the mind-blowing transformation of skin, belly, heart and perception of the self, as a woman ripens and delivers her fragile and beautiful fruit, the newborn, a miracle of the world.

On the poem:

BIRTHDANCE took two years to write. In 1987, after my first child, my son, was born, I tried to write about birth. At the time, I was unable to find any poetry or literature by women on what giving birth 'felt' like, on their inner birthing experience, and I wasn't sure how to express those powerful birthing hours. It took some years, and many revisions as I worked towards how to express this powerful moment of my life, and finally chose to allow the stages of labour to structure the poem. Each woman has a different experience of birth, the many stories, poems and artwork by women in the last decade or two have been an important sharing of what was previously hidden.

__
The Birth Paintings and BIRTHDANCE were painted and composed from 1986-1989.


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A Kora of Blossoms



a fragrance of bouquets of petaled crabapple flowers



into a pink florae of wild apple-scented beauty



feathers of blossoms pass us by



do you see what deeply peers?


These are stills from a video where I gently shook the camera - manually, no Photoshop filters. The final one is my favourite. (Click photos for larger size)


I also experimented with Picasa's 'slideshow movie' capabilities and was impressed. I uploaded this .43sec video directly from Picasa to YouTube, and you'll see if you play it full screen that the resolution is excellent.



direct link: A Kora of Blossoms

Walking along a Toronto street in Spring, I came across a tree of dancing bouquets of crabapple blossoms.

Music from 'Zaman,' by Myriam Matoussi & friends:
http://jamendo.com/en/album/57325 (used with permission)



 Doggles and I walked 6 kilometers today through Toronto neighbourhoods unexplored before. With a thermos of Earl Grey tea, steamy, redolent with bergamot orange, and kibble and water for her, we stopped at three lush parks while I sipped and she sniffed, nibbled grass and chewed sticks. I took a shaking-camera video of a crab apple tree in blossom. Music from Mali the whole way -yeah I was wired, that
kora, man it's beautiful. We came home after 3 hours. She's 11 this Summer and aging extremely well, I must say.



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Videopoem: Vishnu on Chinese New Year's



Fun piece. A combination of poetry, painting, GarageBand jazz. A friend, Doug Carroll, & I were playing with my camera, Final Cut Express & GarageBand. A neophyte, I spent a further 6 hours editing. 2nd attempt at a videopoem, and the first one using Final Cut Express (which I'm learning by watching You Tube tutorials, see my playlists). Poem, "Vishnu on Chinese New Year's" (Dec, 2007), painting, "Women in Spring," (May, 2008). Many thanks!
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