'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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Ink Ocean: A Video of a Live Performance with Images and Videos from the Gulf Oil Spill Added.

It's my birthday, and I won't tell you how old I am, but I did get this video finished finally. The last step was subtitling it, and got that done by 11pm. I worked long and hard on this video of a performance I did at Urban Gallery on January 30th, and hope you take away something of the sadness and outrage over the Gulf Oil Spill and what we are doing to our world even as we have to continue loving in an increasingly polluted world...


direct link: Ink Ocean

Brenda Clews performs her poem, Ink Ocean, live at Urban Gallery in Toronto during a Performance Poetry Salon she organized there during her Poempaintings show in 2014. http://brendaclews.com; http://urbangallery.ca

John Oughton plays his electric guitar with his magic box of sounds: http://library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/oughton/index.htm

All the extra clips (except for the drawing, see below) are from public domain video and photographs of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill in 2010.

'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 (included in the video, the actual drawing is pictured in the credits). It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for a reading in 2012. It is an experimental poem structurally. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of different voices, and perspective shifts. The crude oil spilling in the ocean forms words. The poem arose out of a drawing in black ink, an ink that became a central shifting, drifting, writing, spilling, seeping metaphor in the poem on the oil spill.

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 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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 brendaclews.com
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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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 brendaclews.com
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Test clip for 'Palmistry, a Psalm'- an underlayer


direct link: Test clip for 'Palmistry, a Psalm'- an underlayer (another unlisted videopoem of 46sec)

This is a 46 second snippet of 5 minute clip of the writing of the whole prose/poem on parchment paper to see if it would fit on the final painting, and I think I will make the clip the underlayer of the video, what is returned to again and again as an underlying metaphor amidst many more layers, a greater visual complexity. My intention is to include images of the hand: an x-ray, a painted hand, a real hand, a hand wrapped in a black brace. And the painting in its stages and the final with the writing. Also, some other public domain footage. The final 'video painting poem' could take a few months to finish.

Here's a blog post with the prose/poem, a recording, and images.

The sounds of the pen? Moi. The beautiful bird song, however, is from Alban Lepsy's album, Relaxation Nature vol.1.

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 brendaclews.com
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Photos taken from video on Palmistry, a Psalm


Today I did video a writing of Palmistry, a Psalm onto tracing paper on the painting. This was a 'dry run,' and the prose/poem will fit. It took hours to set up the space, moving couches, and a marble coffee table (on felt, but still), stapling canvas over my couch to the wall, two cameras on tripods, long time adjusting them over and over, lighting, and so on, including putting that playful kitten in the bathroom, she mewed but was ok, and, well, I'll see how some of the clips might work in a videopoem. Here is a digitally-played-with photo from the shoot.




In the videoing today, yes, I did begin to rip the poem, it was irresistible. It was, though, written on test paper. This is not a digitally-played-with photo. Lol.

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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.)

Brenda,
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.


Swoon

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...


                             


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London Poetry Systems features my videopoem, Voicings

My videopoem, Voicings, was featured on L|P|S! I'm delighted! London Poetry Systems writes: "Each month one video makes it onto the Systems homepage." It's here, on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/33159867. The YouTube upload is embedded below. (It was actually one of the rehearsals ::smiling:: I thought to upload different versions at different sites. ::smiling:: The final version is here.)

vimeo.com
London Poetry Systems is an open cross-media poetry platform. This channel is an archive of cross-media poetry. Check out the featured videos and if you'd like to know more about what we do, and/or contribute in some way, please visit the Systems at: http://www.londonpoetrysystems.com/


Voicings by Brenda Clews


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Video Poetry: Voicings


Voicings by Brenda Clews

Besides reading it at a poetry event last week, I videoed 3 rehearsals, and memorized it for this videopoem of Voicings, a prose poem that I wrote some years ago and revised recently. This poem also made it to the top of SoundClick's Poetry charts in 2007.

Is there anything wrong with the lowly poetry reading? Attending poetry readings is one of my favourite activities. Perhaps that enjoyment carries across. With my own videopoetry, when I perform a piece, it garners more views than my videos of imagery with a voiceover. I cannot do it - show myself - without a sense of humour, though.

However, for once I didn't obscure the realism of the camera and instead allow myself to be seen. The reading is virtually untouched footage straight from the camera.

My fascination with multiplicity, multiples remains, though. Nodes, modules, events, thoughts, memories, everything is intersecting, widely missing the connection, intwined, separated, in the flow together or opposing each other. Vectors pulse everywhere in an ongoing processes of embodiment, momentary materializations.

We are layered, enfolded. I am composed of at least two, and usually more. My dopplegängers often show up in my videos; sometimes they get carried away and dance the words of the world. Ventriloquist, yes, but the main figure speaks and she, the double, explains. Like captions. Or perhaps she is the emotion within the words. The spirit fighting to get out. Anyway, she takes over at the end, dancing, and some of the colours and shapes remind me of ancient Sumerian myth, and Polynesian spirit charms.

She is Semiotic, rhizome, an off shoot of the woman speaking of words in a worded world.

That is a solid silver Sari wedding belt that I am wearing as a necklace. I only wear it on special occasions.

Likely I will spend hours subtitling this, but not now. So here is the prose poem:



Voicings

voices, buzzing paths, the expanse we walk through, dark, hoverings in the distance like our hidden thoughts, climbing the insides of our minds, echo chambers, repetitions, stress points, gasps, retreats, revolving around and around, circling,

spinach and feta cheese and pink salmon, sanpellegrino limonata, juices, absorbing, digesting, flowing to all cells, hollow drums, rain sticks beating on the inside, slipped discs, swollen tissue, torn hearts healing,

voices, fragments of conversations, hearing pathways, following lines of letters, words randomly interspersed, little collections of refuse, humming things, what's being said and what's being thought at variance, then laughter,

a music, endless conversations in all minds in all places, air, water, land, cities, streets, buildings, rooms, film and tv and computer screens, talking, echoing, blaring, string-theories of words accompanying the world’s activities, thought flying through words, fleshed words, graced words, like balls flying far beyond the baseball bats in the floodlit diamonds, and racing, running, billowing in the green grass blue sky up into outer space,

billions of conversations, no stopping, the telling, others, ourselves, reams, skin of naked words, a love of words, conceptualizations, significations, words that are real, sensual, rolling, synaesthetic experiences, how our tongues love to form sweet angry hot explanatory seductive smart gossipy sophisticated kind compassionate judgmental searing truthful words for speaking, writing, dreaming,

and when yours and my words meet, from my lips to your ears, from your lips to my ears, in the air trance entrance  ringing cymbals  crystal singing,  guttural, ethereal,  whispering, our longing, who cares what we say, ecstatic light levitating, our tongues interlinking, ruby flame of our bodies, our
hearts speaking,

-
Also, I composed the background soundtrack in GarageBand.











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Three Readings at CENtRAL

Here are three readings at CENtRAL that I videoed and edited. There were more, but I ran out of disk space and had to delete them. The editing for each took approximately 2 days. Not something that I can continue to do for everybody -it was an interesting learning experience for me. They are presented in the order in which we read. I hope you enjoy these readings.


 
direct link: Brenda Clews reading 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.)



direct link: Jennifer Hosein reading I Love You.



direct link: Cammy Lee reading Tingly Fingers.



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FRIDAY VIDEOPOEMS COMING!



On Fridays I am going to host a videopoem on my blog that I have found somewhere on the NET - Vimeo, YouTube, Moving Poems, etc. I will try to write something of my reaction to the videopoem in the post. My only rule is one videopoem per 6 months per videopoet (including my own work). Four posts a month is not very much, and there's lots to choose from. I can't aim for the best on the NET because I have no idea what that might be. My aim is simply consistently high quality, and my weekly criteria may change for what that is depending on what angle I'm exploring - ie perhaps the visuals are amazing and the poem ok, or vice versa. Videopoetry is a multi-media art where a number of arts intersect - film, text either on-screen or accompanying, music, voice - so visual art, writing, music and performance. A videopoem is, then, a juggling act. I am planning to begin posting on Fridays as I begin to prepare for setting up a site that will focus on Videopoetry Theory.


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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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The Canvas Backdrop

I sewed some canvas strips together that had been window coverings for some years before I bought curtains. They enable the creation of a performance space in my tiny, cramped, messy apartment. The canvas covers three bookshelves and the doorway to the kitchen. After stapling the canvas to the tops of the bookshelves and wall, I set my video camera on a tripod and jumped right into the nook and danced at midnight! I was up till 5am editing the footage! Besides a few photos of the canvas, and stills from the video, I've uploaded 'Dance in Black and Gold' to Picasa; if you go and watch a slideshow you can see it there.

From The Canvas Backdrop
Sewing strips of canvas (that were window coverings before I got curtains) for a backdrop for video performance pieces. Yes, those are two-toned nails, Thalo blue and Cherry cream. :smiles:

And, ek, what a job, sewing all that canvas on my little machine! Bent two needles, too, and finished the job by praying and bending the last needle back into shape. I've stapled a whole corner of my little apartment. Then my son and his girlfriend came to watch a movie! Time to take a break. Maybe try a little something later, just to see...

From The Canvas Backdrop
The nook in my tiny apartment for performance pieces, created with all the canvas strips I sewed (that were window coverings the first few years here, before I got curtains). The canvas covers a wall of bookshelves and the doorway to the kitchen! The pieces on the floor were too slippery, so I'll have to sew them together and tape them down next time. I need a bit more canvas for the performance piece I am planning, but I did do a little dance/poetry piece in this space that evening: Dance of Gold Canvas - see some stills in the following photos.

From The Canvas Backdrop
from, 'Dance in Black and Gold,' a dance poem, a performance piece...

in my newly sewn canvas nook!

From The Canvas Backdrop

From The Canvas Backdrop

From The Canvas Backdrop

The video is at YouTube: Dance in Black and Gold


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Videopoem: a Neruda love sonnet with footage from an African jungle



One Hundred Love Sonnets IX was written in 1958 by Pablo Neruda.

Besides loving Neruda's famous sonnet, I went into hyper-heaven with the footage. I've never seen anything that's 'exactly' like my childhood in Kafue National Park in Zambia until this video. This footage was daily life, exactly like that. I'm spinning with joy, this is it. Takes me back, oh so far back, to my beloved jungle, and beloved wild animals, giraffes, zebras, buck, hyenas, and the lions, my friends the lions...

____




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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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Anansi Hides the Moon at Moving Poems

Hey, look what's at Moving Poems today! As Dave Bonta says: "Welcome. This is an on-going anthology of the best videopoems, filmpoems, animated poems, and other poetry videos from around the web, appearing at a rate of one every weekday most weeks."

Below is a screen shot. Click on it to go to the Anansi Hides the Moon page at Moving Poems. And while you're there, look at the collection of great videopoems Dave has amassed, watch as many as you wish, and make sure you subscribe to Moving Poems, a site which juts out on the forefront of multi-media poetry today.



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Anansi Hides the Moon


direct link: Anansi Hides the Moon

A painting, 'Parchment Figures: Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones,' hanging on a wall. Sunlight moving through wind-waving branches falls through a window onto it. You can also see the shadows of the window itself. That morning I was absorbed watching the light and shadows dancing quietly over the painting and videotaped it. Then, on an evening walk I came across a light on a patio with a thick white gauzy curtain around it, and shot some footage with my iPhone video camera. Later, playing with the footage, I added the billowing curtain and its light next to the painting of doubles and shadows. Then I cut sections of a photograph of the painting out, animated them and added them to the film. Finally, pondering on what I had produced, I wrote a whimsical poem of the African trickster spider god, Anansi, and wove it in with handwritten notes.

It does have a serious theme - can you guess it?

Take a moment to look at the moon.

(An aside: the video as it shaped itself inspired the poem. I made the video and then wrote the poem over a few days, meditating on each tiny section to see what was emerging/wanting to be said. I swear Anansi, the trickster, was loose in my computer, though, since sections of the video kept inexplicably changing while I was working on the text. Eventually I had to use a video I'd made of the footage only for the trickiest text -the opening title- which had repeatedly, every time I tried to lay it on the timeline, caused bizarre things to happen to all the other tracks, like shortening them or making them speed up for small durations, but chaotically and if you fixed this, that went off. Nothing like this has ever happened when I've edited a video before. It was as if the components of the video had taken on a life of their own. I kept resorting to the earlier versions FCE saves in 'the vault' before using a 'fixed' file, the .mov file I uploaded to Vimeo a few days back. These trickster gods do keep us hopping!)

The painting, from chalk drawing to nearly finished, can be viewed here: Parchment Figures: Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones.
Flute music a very small section of 'Bodydrama at the Nave' by ARTSomerville.
This videopoem was featured at Moving Poems.


Anansi Hides the Moon

Anansi
the spider
dropped
in from
where
African
gods and
goddesses
hang out

Anansi
hid
the moon
behind a
curtain

The sun flickered

The parchment
figures, doubles,
doppelgangers
and clones
barely
noticed

The days
were
sun bright
and the city
was electric
light
at night

Sometimes
it's
like that
_

From Parchment Figures: Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones


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Ruminations on Creating Videopoetry: Unities

Einsenstein criticises Griffith for...having conceived of...unity in a completely extrinsic way as a unity of collection, the gathering together of juxtaposed parts, and not as a unity of production, a cell which produces its own parts by division, differentiation; for having interpreted opposition as an accident and not as the internal motive force by which the divided unity forms a new unity on another level....Eisenstein retains Griffith's idea of an organic composition or assemblage of movement-images: from the general situation [situation d'ensemble] to the transformed situation, through the development and transcendence of the oppositions. But it is true that Griffith did not see the dialectical nature of the organism and its composition. The organic is indeed a great spiral, but the spiral should be conceived of 'scientifically' and not empirically, in terms of a law of genesis, growth and development.

Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1, The Movement-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (first published in France in 1983). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986, pp.32-33.
In my exploration of the potential of video in the production of a visual moving-poem, I have surely relied on juxtaposition. The field of film is so vast I didn't know where to begin. I had to teach myself the editing software as I sought ways to present my poetry in an enhanced videopoetic form. With the little footage I shot, I created videopoetry montages of essentially juxtapositions - images, moving or slowed or stilled, layered over each other with various opacities, tracks of the reading of the poetry and sometimes the visual text itself, and music. I hoped that through intelligent juxtapositions I might arrive at a unity of form that disassembled even as it assembled a series of images and thoughts through its duration (meaning in the techniques of layering where there is a new unity that, because you can see the different layers, maintains a separation of the parts that constitute it).

I tried to keep my videopoems short. As I strived for simplicity and enough activity to keep the viewer watching, I perhaps forgot what Deleuze speaks of.

I constructed rather than composed. I layered juxtaposed images rather than creating from a vision that emanates its unity from within.

But this is modern art - collages of images, juxtapositions of ideas, thoughts, various forms of intersplicing the conversations of the culture. It's okay to allow oneself to swim in this field of rich imageries in diverse fields and to take from here and there as one constructs a piece.

When I write a poem, I begin with an image and then allow the images, ideas to develop of their own volition - I never know where the poem is going, or how it will get wherever it might. I do not live my life with teleologies (goals, ends in mind) and nor does my poetry proceed this way. This way of working is also how I compose videopoems. I don't storyboard, or have any preconceived ideas of what images or footage I might go out and videotape to express whatever it is that is emerging.

Rather, my videopoetique is closer to something created out of found art (even if I've shot all the video), or at least that's how I've approached it thus far.

In my profile at YouTube I wrote:

To me, the videopoem turns back the monstration of film, in which narrative develops visually without language. It attempts to marry word and image. The true videopoem, in my view, is not of pictorial scenes illustrating the narratorial sequences of poetry, but of unique and different partners who combine in a new art form. We move beyond the illustrator's art. We are not 'giving a visual' for 'a poetic line.' The two, visual and verbal, connect not as simile, like to like, or allegory, this represents that, but as metaphor, surprising leaps that unfold new possibilities.

And this I still emphatically mean. We are exploring a new art form.

But reading Deleuze's book -Deleuze, where I turn for ideas, for philosophical depth- has caused me to think of ways to express unities by considering opposites like these: construction and composition; found and built; accidental and planned; juxtaposition of found images and organic unity; and so on.



A small collection of my videopoems, beginning with the most recent.
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YouTube Custom Video Players

YouTube is now offering the players that were in beta. I think they are terrific.

Remember, first you must create a playlist with the videos you would like to show in your player. To do this, click on the videos and add them to a playlist. When you create your custom player you will be given a list of your playlists to choose from.


I have this one on the first page of my website. I'm not sure how to find it in the new menus, but if you go here http://www.youtube.com/custom_player you can highlight it as a layout style and then you'll get the embed code. Be careful, though, YouTube says: "The layout option is only available when you first create a player. Once you've chosen a layout and saved the player, you won't be able to change it."



In the bottom left corner, click on the box after the Play sign but before the Volume control and the videos in the playlist will appear along the bottom of the screen. It's a toggle switch: click on it again to make them disappear. Use the arrow at the end to see subsequent pages.

Clicking on the Videopoetry playlist will take you to a cool page in which the videos are shown in mini size in a vertical line, along with total playtime.

I am amazed to see the 13 videos I have in this playlist are a total of 41 minutes! Each one took a minimum of 20 hours to produce, and the longer ones in the 50 hour range!

Crazy what we do for enjoyment, huh?




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How to create a custom YouTube video player for your blog or website



A selection of my videopoems. As a painter and poet, I, like many, are drawn to the video medium, where I experiment with delighted abandon.

After a fruitless hour of searching for and trying out widgets, and then discovering YouTube itself offers the ability to create a custom video player for your website -though you won't find this handy feature in any of the drop down menus at your YouTube site- I created this one for my website!


This is how you create one of these neat players:


1. Sign in to your YouTube account.

2. Paste http://www.youtube.com/custom_player into the browser.

3. Create your embeddable player. Note: you can create a 'playlist' selection of your videos for use in this custom player, or use any of your other playlists, or simply include everything you've uploaded.

To create a custom playlist, I backtracked. I clicked on the videos I wished to show in my player one at a time and added them to a new playlist that I called "My Videopoetry." Then I returned to the custom player page and made that playlist my choice for what videos to show in the player.

4. YouTube will create the html you can embed in your blog or at your site. Copy and paste.

5. Later, when you want to find that page again paste http://www.youtube.com/my_players into your browser.

Currently using these urls is the only way to access this neat feature of YouTube - so be sure to favourite them for easy access in the future.




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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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Sporadic Music #1: -a crazy dance-


direct link: Sporadic Music #1: -a crazy dance-

Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
Wittgenstein
__
The animated letters, a dancing semiotext throughout:

Ribbon squiggles
:
dancing
dancing
dancing
dancing

Standard font:
wild
transmute
transform
dance
-

Scrolling text on inverted (white) screen:

Joe Travesio writes
:
Sporadic music is a collection of open techniques of composition where different musical elements (rhythm, melody, tonality, modality, structure) are affected by a constant process of transmutation and instability changing through harmonic relations, games of addition and subtraction, retrogade expositions of previous schemes, logical transformations, sudden ruptures and more crazy things like this. Sporadic music compositions are very creative unpredictable, creating rules to break them, mix new rules, and so on. The result is minimalist, reiterative, expressionistic, and unstable, surrealist sometimes, always interesting.

On 'El Loco y la Nina' (Essay on Sporadic Music, No. 2: The Mad Man and the Little Girl) he writes: The music rides along two musical lines independent of each other. The left-hand - the 'mad man'; the right hand - the 'little girl.' The sporadic speech of the music is based on developing short motives and themes. 'El Loco y la Nina' is composed of minor chords with complex microstructures. A dramatic and hyperactive theme, a mix of violence and delicate care.
__

Poem at end, first screen:
Dance like a
madwoman, or
a madman
in your livingroom.

What is a
security of the self?

Without constraint, unfettered,
who would you be?
Second screen:
If we forget
we are watched,
read, observed, judged,
about the unceasing gaze
of the other,
what would we do,
who would we be?

from EnTrapped WOR|l|DS
Brenda Clews, 2007
__
Performed, videotaped, edited, conceived and composed by Brenda Clews, 2010.
Music (with permission) by José Travieso: http://josetravieso.org
'El Loco y la Niña,' 2nd track on, "Ensayo sobre Música Esporádica," re-mastered 2008: http://www.josetravieso.org/index3music_1ensayos.html

Quote: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (London: Routledge, 1974), p.xiii
__

I pair the ordinary with the extraordinary. An ordinary woman with brilliant music. Though the figure as I have 'enfigured' her is a bit strange. She's a line drawing of herself, overlapping herself slightly. She seems connected to a doorway, or box. In it is one way, closer to 'the real'; out of it is another, an inverted world that is line drawn with hints of solarized colour (at least in the original, the YouTube version is a bit washed out).

The letters are randomly ordered. Swinging in on a line like a meandering riversnake, growing larger before they disappear. Yet they reverse, gliding away from her. Is she a septre of their energy like a secret Minoan snake goddess? Happily jiving up or down. Become tiny squiggles like a chorus in the corners. Splices of themselves or elongated versions. Calligraphy, semiotext, cartoon. They echo the colours of the room. They make rules to break them. They are Sporadic.

Wittgenstein says, "Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination."

Travesio's song, produced sporadically, like a Dada sound tone poem, he calls an 'essay.' The notes of the musician's piano are words in the imagination.

Quote: Ludwig Wittgenstein, from 'Picturing Reality,' in Philosophy of Language, edited Andrea Nye (Victoria, Australia: Blackwell, 1998), p.87
__

I find myself embarrassed by my video. It's dull, boring. The music is incredible - a tour de force by José Travieso, ecstatic, experimental, Sporadic. He is a virtuoso. An amazingly talented musician. The scroll of writings from his album cover as a visual element in the video works for me. My book-lined over-stuffed livingroom isn't fun to see. But the worst is me.

Why am I showing you this video at all?

Because, you know, 'get up and do it!' Because middle-aged women dancing in their livingrooms like crazy ladies. Because it's a take on Reality TV, and that approach to us. Because you can tell I haven't danced in 6 months and am gung ho about 'getting back in shape.' Because I've put on weight and I'm trying to 'exercise it off' (with reduction in daily food intake too of course). Because I'm happy to be jumping around like a banshee with a lit firecracker. Because I don't mind using myself as subject, in baggy around-the-house dog-walking shorts, no make-up or jewelry, everything unplanned - the video a last moment thought. Oh, yeah, tripod, the standby. And because I think my dog is adorable.

Since this video she has figured out how to participate when I roll the carpets up and begin my crazy stuff. She gets her rope with a rubber toy on the end and we play tug of war to the rhythm. I hold it high and she jumps to the beat. When I slide to the floor and begin swinging my legs and whatnot, she is very cute and quite happy to roll around too, letting me do a little contact improv with her.

(Though I gave the musician, whose music I found on Jamendo, full rights to having it pulled if he doesn't like what I did to his music, so it might disappear, return to being un-shown.) :)

(It took days to upload, no idea why, uploads kept freezing, but finally watching it on YouTube, I can see that my cut at the end, where the letters disappear and the music stops, isn't quite right. For unknown reason, when all the letters were cut in a vertical line, some had an echo, an extra flash a second or so after they were 'gone.' Who knows why? The ensuing lines were clean, empty, I couldn't figure it out. So I cut those flash dancing letters back a bit, to end just before. Of course, then they didn't echo. And the sequence is almost ok, but not quite. Some disappearing before others. But, then, that's Sporadic isn't it? :-)
__

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
F. W. Nietzsche.

I am 58 years old.
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Glint




(watch at fullscreen in hd, if you can -quality is excellent) direct link: Glint

He indicated that the video was ok, but uploading to YouTube? I said there are lots of CATS on YouTube. (Featuring our 13 year old family cat, Tiggy. I told him he was going to be a YouTube cat - that's status.) :-)

In writing this minimalist poem, I thought to present it in the video as the murmur you overhear that is a poem. I wanted an 'art film,' something composed of shapes and sounds open to interpretation. Ghostly, sensual, colours and light and shadows in a flux in a landscape that's a little ambiguous, a bit Surreal. The music that I found for this piece was so perfect I edited the video's rhythms to the song.

This writing is drawn from a much larger manuscript which interweaves science and poetry. Three quarters of the energy of the universe is dark energy. 'Glint' calls on the metaphor of dark energy to shape a love poem. Words rise and sink in the marvelous soundtrack, which I didn't want to disturb above a murmur.

The music is "Madrox, in my head," by Arena of Electronic Music at Jamendo: http://www.jamendo.com/track/477297

___

My dear and long-time friend, Stephen Hatfield wrote a beautiful comment in an email (posted here with his permission):

For my taste I thought "Glint" was one of your most successful video pieces, in part because the text grew out of the visual textures in a very pleasing and enticing way, as opposed to setting a pre-existing poem to a video accompaniment.

I thought that it was very sensuous, but in a very polymorphously perverse way. I did get some suggestions of skin-like textures, but nothing in the way of specific organs or body parts. Instead the textures I saw made me think more of giant underwater anemones, brains, sea sponges, that sort of thing. It was sexy, but in a completely indirect way that stimulated all sorts of associations of ideas and sensations.

I liked the ritual slashes - cat claws - across the canvas of the screen - which also suggested the slots through which one watched those early forms of moving pictures - which also suggested a kind of connect/disconnect that was the overall ethos of the piece.

I also thought the way you read your text worked. That character pulled me into the video more than the tone of voice with which you have "incantated" some of your other videos. This is entirely a matter of taste, and I do not use "incantated" in any ironic or denigrating manner.

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Ravishing Light: A Solar Videopoem (1½ min)



After watching many hours of NASA's amazing SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) footage of the sun at the Internet Archives, I downloaded some short videos and from them distilled the clips you see in this video. I am delighted to find this footage and to create a solar videopoem.

A vision of such power that what went before falls away in a rapturous death. A rapturous death of the ego. An unerasable enlightenment. That Rubicon. I was inspired to write this piece after seeing the movie, 'Sunshine,' which also uses footage from NASA's SOHO Observatory.




-
prose poem written in 2007

These are the videos I finally chose and downloaded. I used clips from some of them for my short videopoem: 

wave- archive.org/details/CIL-10079
SOHO_TRACE_Intro_YouTube- archive.org/details/GMM-10421
recon- archive.org/details/SPD-SOHO-STRIPreconSTRIP
quiet20010310ntscarchive- archive.org/details/SVS-2766?start=4.5
EITflameszm- archive.org/details/SPD-SOHO-STRIPEITflameszmSTRIP
304blow- archive.org/details/SPD-SOHO-STRIP304blowSTRIP
archive.org/details/SVS-3286
EITbulb- archive.org/details/SPD-SOHO-STRIPEITbulbSTRIP
flarezoom640x480- archive.org/details/SVS-2496
helio_fleet_v1.1- archive.org/details/SVS-3570


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Three White Images, a videopoem



direct link: Three White Images. (Watch at 1080p -you'll be given this option once you press play- and full-screen - the resolution YouTube offers is excellent.)


Three White Images

...................................................................dark, quiet, stillness of the night
Tonight on my walk I came across three white images that
caught my heart. Should I carry a camera, or would that
undo what memory does? 
...................................................................images of the inner
...................................................................soul
...................................................................remembering

And what I mean is writing about the images in the cryptic
...................................................................criss-crossing of white branches
ways I do in my poetry contains a way for me
...................................................................against the white grate
to remember those images in an almost dream-like way
....................................................................an elephant in a yard, white,
that raw video footage might not
...................................................................full-sized, the Hindu Airavata who
...................................................................upholds the
...................................................................worlds

So I have a camera I resist using.

...................................................................the branches walk with us
Sometimes the photographs become the memories of the
...................................................................their lines against the dark sky
past and you forget what wasn't there. I find it strange
to look at photographs of my childhood, for instance, since
...................................................................cross-walks, roar of air
they are removed from what I remember. In that way
...................................................................we are alone in the night
I'd prefer to write of what I see than take a picture of it. But
...................................................................lights, unknown
the camera is glamourous, an amazing contraption,
...................................................................memories
and images can be shared, and so we take a lot of
...................................................................Tibetan prayer flags criss-crossing
...................................................................a yard
photographs of ourselves and our world. So I think
...................................................................devotionals, offerings, requests
...................................................................a peace tree 
both, remembering through writing, that way, and the
...................................................................where the wind moves
...................................................................pieces of woven material 
image, even if the image wouldn't look to someone else the
way I compose it.
...................................................................lanterns of love

...................................................................and then I lifted myself
...................................................................and it was bright


Three white images that caught my heart-
........a white elephant,
................prayer flags,
........................a white birch tree. 

___

Music from BertycoX's "Light of Abysses", go and listen to the whole track, from an album of two songs, beautiful.

The line spacing isn't my formatting, in which the italicized lines are deeply indented in a staggered way, I have done an indent with white dots - hopefully it's readable given the site's html restrictions.

This videopoem was inspired by a question I sent out on Facebook on March 3rd. The question is the first stanza (non-italicized) to which there were many responses from artists for whom taking images of the world in their motions to and fro are an important part of their oeuvre, Richard Kattman, Elissa MalcohnKim Walker, Sandra Machado, and Irena Strzinar, and I'd like to thank them. I went back a few evenings later with my video camera and shot the footage and edited during a day and a half marathon.

One of the issues I have with videotaping is camera shake, and as soon as I can afford it, I'll buy iLife and pull my videos in there to remove camera shake and then take them into Final Cut Express to edit them. It'll be far cheaper than an add-on, if such a thing is to be found for FCE. In this video I slowed the footage of the branches to half speed which helped considerably, and then geared the words to accepting that hand-held quality.

Also, in this video I am excited to see a discovery of ways to continue my aim of creating art with 'multiple voices,' 'multiple styles,' multiplicities. Although this video is now posted at YouTube, and I won't remove it, I think I have figured out how to get Garageband to save each voice in a left or right pan. If I get it right and it works, I'll upload the video elsewhere and see if the left/right stereo split of the voices is maintained in a posting. That'll be cool!

One voice is a conversation about doing the video, what memory is --if memories that are written are a better representation of the memories we hold than photographs might be, that photographs of a time period might even supplant our own memories from then-- and perhaps is the voice of ruminations. The other voice speaks poetry. A poetry that dances off the ruminations, echoes, and transcends it.

I am happy with this video and feel I've come far in my self-taught videopoetical route; if it doesn't quite work for you, read along with the film and see if that helps, and remember that I'm still learning and will get better at this.

___

Guy W. wrote a comment that I liked - he raised good questions, his response was sensitive to the work and yet expressed his difficulties with the style of aural presentation - and he gave me permission to include it here:

"Very captivating multi-media concept.
Maybe I'm just not good a multi-tasking, but with both poems being read simultaneously, I couldn't hear either one, so I had to scroll away from the video to read the lyrics. Perhaps if the audio stanzas were spaced instead of directly on top of one another.

I might have misinterpreted, but one poem seemed to argue against the existence of the video. Perhaps if all the lyrics were in the video.

I would like to have heard how the commonality of whiteness of the images unified them in your mind."

And so I had to reveal, O to reveal, and said, "Have you heard of double-induction subliminal hypnosis tapes? That is a technique I've transposed to my poetry. Yes, it is supposed to undo the logic of the mind so that a deeper listening can emerge. I have included the text, which isn't ever included with tapes in that style.

And you are absolutely right... one voice does argue against the use of images to accompany memory. Sometimes the photos can become the memory, supplant it so to speak, and one forgets the actual time or the real flavour of it, or how one felt...

The commonality was that I saw all three on a walk one night and all three images struck me with their poetic quality. Though I understand what you mean, and perhaps could put something to that effect in the written transcription that accompanies the videopoem.

Also, I've also been listening to Laurie Anderson lately - O Superman - and feel like experimenting a little with various soundscapes... I even was daring enough to add sound effects to the voice, a little echo here, a little reverberation there :))"
_
Postcript, June 13, 2010: Take a look at Loftus' work on memory: http://www.slate.com/id/2256089/pagenum/all/

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Women's Circle: 'Dancing an Unwinding,' Summer Solstice 2009



direct link to Dancing an Unwinding

Dance is an ecstatic, uplifting, enlightening experience. I hope this little video imparts some of the warmth and joy of the connectedness that occurs during these wild and nurturing dances. After last Summer's Solstice DOWH (Dance Our Way Home) session, some women kindly stayed to dance. The camera taped us for dance stills for an article I was writing. The footage was so sweet, however, that I created this little videopoem. You can read the prose poem here: Amaterasu.

Dancing Women: Erica Ross, Laura Nashman, Angela Greco, Jade Niemczyk, Linda Robinson & Brenda Clews. Event: Dance Our Way Home (DOWH), June 20th, 2009, at Dovercourt House in Toronto: danceourwayhome.com

Background music from *Collection Hapa* by Keli'i Kaneali'i & Barry Flanagan: mountainapplecompany.com

Videotaped, edited & prose poetry by Brenda Clews: sites.google.com/site/brendaclews 

__
It's important for those in the entertainment industry to create smart, cool, sexy, funky, daring, glitzy videos to be noticed, to make a name, to become famous.

I'm not trying to call attention to myself except as one of the participating women; I have nothing to sell; I am not attempting to make money on this; I am not trying to impress anyone.

I'm promoting the creative self-expression of women, ordinary women, in unfacilitated dance. No choreography. It's all about feeling comfortable with who you are and flowering as yourself.

This video was shot on a tripod with a democracy whereby no-one got close-ups or special attention. No cuts were made to the footage, the music is uninterrupted, but some filters were added. The stop motion filter, for instance, was done frame by frame, about 7 hours. It took probably 20 hours to produce something that looks like almost nothing was done to it, that's perhaps slow and ordinary to the eye used to action and special effects.

Makes me think of Wordsworth's language of and for the common man, or Courbet's determination to paint the ordinary, stones, roads, fields, farmers.

An aesthetic: the beauty of the ordinary. How the ordinary is dreamy. How enlightenment flows out of the ordinary. How what is truly marvelous is the unassuming, the everyday, expressions of joy in everyone simply because they are. What is most surreal is the real. I hope to convey some of this with the way I chose to show the footage.



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White Fire on a radio show...



(which be forwarned is almost 22 minutes long).

Backtrack to go forward.

In 2000 I began what I hoped would be an epic prose poem exploring the concept of love in our culture through the mythology of soul mates. While I had done much of the research (an unfinished interdisciplinary thesis on light being the core of it), I had a course list of books to read on the changing conceptions of love in Western culture but sadly lacked the funds not only for time to research and write the epic poem but even to buy the two dozen books I thought would be most helpful. So nothing more was written beyond this fragment.

And perhaps that’s all it was ever meant to be. A fragment. The fragment almost became a performance of about 8 dancers, singers and musicians in 2001, but that show collapsed at the last moment.

I was invited by Nik Beat at the suggestion of our mutual friend Mikala to read it on his Sunday afternoon radio show on Toronto’s CIUT FM in November 2000.

An old friend, Christopher Reibling, kindly and without being asked, recorded the show and gave me the tape, otherwise it'd be lost to the fires of time. :-)

And that is what I have uploaded. Because recently I resurrected this prose poem in a videopoem called, ‘Poetic of Light/ Poétique de la lumière, which I’ve uploaded to my website’s Videopoetry page along with a link to the full text of White Fire. I thought that perhaps for the one person in the next 10 years who might be interested in hearing a reading, that, rather than producing a new one, this rather charming radio show would be more fun (lol, everyone who stops by is unique and honours me by their presence!:-).

So, unique one-of-a-kind reader of prose poems/listener of poetry radio shows/watcher of YouTube videopoems, enjoy!

With blessings.
Comments (2)

A Poetic of Light/Une poétique de la lumière

This meditative video poem is dedicated to all of you. With thanks...



Poetic of Light/ Poétique de la lumière uploaded by Brenda Clews to YouTube.


The poetry is addressed to the lover, the soul mate, you, the viewer.

My videopoem is finished. After a week of nearly nonstop work, most nights till 3 or 4 am and up again at 7 or 8am and working right through, I am happy with it. For your enjoyment, I have uploaded both the final version with poetry, and the silent version too.

I searched through my writing for nearly a whole day to find what might work. I decided on 
'White Fire,' a meditation on soul mates since I had been vaguely dancing with that poem in mind on the day that I taped this, and had printed it on fine paper and threw the pages in the air and danced on them during the videoing of my dance session last June.

White Fire now has a web page at my Art & Writings website, where you may read the prosepoem in its entirety. In the video I have only used a few quotes on the creation of the universe out of light. I wrote this prose poem nearly a decade ago, and at that time I was invited to read it on the radio and it nearly became a performance with 8 dancers and musicians!

The celestial and ecstatic piano is from "Spring" in the album, '
Piano Paintings' by the brilliant Russian composer and pianist, Lena Selyanina. It holds a Creative Commons license and may be listened to, and downloaded freely, at Jamendo (it's also available on the Internet Archives, and as a torrent on Mininova). Lena came by my website, since I had left a note at her site on Jamendo that the music in my videopoem, Venus Enroute, is hers, and wrote: "I am impressed by your art and happy that you have found inspiration from my music. I am looking forward to see how the Spring dance will evolve....with warm greetings from Helsinki, Finland, Lena." How wonderful.

One of the challenges I set myself in this videopoem was to create a self-contained movie. I have, therefore, included the text of the prosepoetry being recited 
in the movie itself. You will see that I have worked very hard to produce this video in a way that the text becomes a design element in the video itself.

Except at the end, where I felt darkness was most effective.


I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I have enjoyed making it.

Earlier version without words: Poetic of Light/Poétique de la lumière (a poetry without words) at Vimeo.


Comments (1)

Poetic of Light/Poétique de la lumière - In-progress



This clip isn't finished yet. I hope to add poetry -I'm thinking of not just voice, or maybe no voice at all (that piano so beautiful), but having the words float down the screen, especially during intervals when I 'disappear' from the 'room'- I'm sharing this earlier version because it has charm... when I finish this video I'll upload to YouTube... but I thought you might enjoy this stage in the creation, a little clip, this simplicity.

If you'd like to see a screenshot of the Final Cut Express window with the filters I used, you can see it at TwitPic (press the + sign to see full size). This video, taken in June 2009, was shot with an older DV camera, a Canon GL2.

The celestial and ecstatic piano is from "Spring" in 'Piano Paintings' by Lena Selyanina. It holds a Creative Commons license and may be listened to, and downloaded freely, at Jamendo (it's also available on the Internet Archives, and as a torrent on Mininova).

______
I also tried unsuccessfully to upload this video to Blogger for two days! I'm hosting it from Facebook. Yes, I have a YouTube account, but I prefer to keep that site for finished videopoems. I don't think a Facebook url will work, but you can try: Poetic of Light/Poétique de la lumière - In-progress (will work for fb 'friends' & send an invite if you're there- I'd love to connect.) The embedded video doesn't travel by email, and so I like to offer a direct url. I may upload to Vimeo when my 'new week' starts.
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Video: 'Venus Enroute' from "The Botticelli Venus Suite of Poems"



Venus Enroute uploaded by Brenda Clews to YouTube.

The poetry is an excerpt from my "Botticelli Suite of Venus Poems":

She stopped to rest. Momentarily, in the field of pure possibility, her position unfixed, indeterminate.

Without hovering, or insecurity.

It was an image of being in the vast field of life.

Without knowing. In a position of unknowing, positionless, I suppose. Existing without location or momentum. Vibrating with possibility. It wasn't exciting or fearful, just what is.

Nothing is fixed or certain, though there are always solutions to problems.

Then she continued on.

She didn't doubt her certainties.


The music clip is from Lena Selyanina's 'Sarah's Dance,' from her album, "Piano Poetry," which carries a Creative Commons license and may be found here: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/45056.

The chair sequence and the poem added to it had no original connection. I cut the clip from two hours of footage as perhaps 'workable.' Then I searched for a poem. It's amazing how the poem 'fits' the movement, huh? Creatively perhaps we are a gesture, a gesture where here poetry and dance are an aligned fusion.

Albeit, the resulting video is a bit comic. The tag on the back of my dress? As soon as I saw the footage I grabbed the dress and cut it off. The other camera? Ahh, I'm still just learning how to make videos and don't have a clone plugin to remove these elements. Enjoy the humor!

(Or perhaps, in context of the poem, since Venus has swung her scallop shell around to enter the world of experience, we could say the tag on her dress reads: 'If this Vintage Venus is found wandering, send her back to "Mount Olympus"!)
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Dancing an Unwinding after a Solstice Celebration


Dancing an Unwinding after a Solstice Celebration from Brenda Clews on Vimeo.
This is my first videotaping of dance, something I've wished to do for a long time. After the Solstice DOWH (Dance Our Way Home) session finished, and most of the women left, a few kindly stayed to dance so we could get some stills for an article, but I liked the footage and created this little video dance poem. You can read the prose poem here: brendaclews.blogspot.com/2009/03/ericas-dance-our-way-home.html

Dancing Women: Erica Ross, Laura Nashman, Angela Greco, Jade Niemczyk, Linda Robinson & Brenda Clews

Event: Dance Our Way Home (DOWH), June 20th, 2009, at Dovercourt House in Toronto: danceourwayhome.com

Background music from *Collection Hapa* by Keli'i Kaneali'i & Barry Flanagan: mountainapplecompany.com

Videotaped, edited & prose poetry by Brenda Clews: sites.google.com/site/brendaclews
Comments (4)

Videopoem (1:56min): Solstician Rain



Direct link to YouTube video: Solstician Rain

The light was beautiful, but ripe, fruity, dense, as if walking through a film in technicolour. Light swimming to us through veils of vapour high up, some particles clear, others refracted. Colour magnified. Air, rich. The streets a vision under a distant roar of stratospheric surf. Then it poured.

The woman I passed saw the light, its ominous hush, picked up an umbrella on her way out. I didn't.

We, my dog and I, stood under a tree cover while thunder broke its drums.

We weren't slicked and soaked by the time we reached home, only dampened with large drops: she, smelling of happy wet dog; me with my khaki green long soft Indian cotton skirt, spotted, juiced.


_

'Solstician Rain' is a description of my walk yesterday evening. An hour or so after getting caught in the rain, I went out and recorded the video. It was dark by then but with various filters I was able to achieve something resembling the feel of the atmosphere earlier. Holding a microphone out of the window, I recorded the rain and thunder. Working in Final Cut Express, I layered video and audio tracks to form this videopoem. I love the rich fertility of this time of year.

The music under the thunder is by AlFa. It's approximately the first two minutes of an eighteen minute piece, 'Poème de la forêt,' from their album, Nuance Khaki, Fiber Lily, which carries a Creative Commons license and may be found here: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/10688.




Here is a screen capture of this video in Final Cut Express.
Click for a larger size.
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White, a Butoh-inspired dance by Brenda Clews



A poetry in motion. I played with negatives. It reminds me of ice and snow, of liberation from constraint. Of imaging between being and non-being. Of the mother. Of the sorrow of the mother earth. Of disappearing into and emerging from. Of the continuous cacophony of the dance of life. Of the disjointed, an awkward grace. The film loses some of its quality in the uploaded video: the semi-opague layers appear more like faded images than the transparencies they are. Yet you let go of the white leaf and let it float out to the sea. I wanted to add a poem, and perhaps that's next. The flowers are from photographs I took last year of mandalas of fresh flowers in the street outside an Indian restaurant in honour of a Hindu festival. The increasing presence of the flowers behind the screen of the dance is a reminder of what is ever-present, profundita natura, the profundity of nature at its most beautiful, fragile, transitory, in the flower. I leave you with a screen of flowers, like a prayer.


Hi beautiful friends, Sharing 'White, a Butoh-inspired dance.'.. film clip from late last Summer, and then all last night editing (editing video I'm discovering is like that:-) ...layering... images, sounds, yet not wanting to disturb the vulnerability, perhaps strangeness, of this 'silent film'... Butoh can express the painful and beautiful paradoxes of life in an intimacy that is almost unbearable to watch, I don't know if this film has that, but it's in the intent.

Feedback is always wonderful as I stumble down the path of this art form.

If 'White' opens something out in you, even in resistance, or in a sense of discomfort, then that is the Butoh influence, and then I'll know your reaction is like mine. For I don't know who that woman is, something else takes hold, another energy flows through.

Many thanks for taking the time to look at this. Many thanks for the blessing you are in my life,

hugs, Brenda xo


direct link to the video at YouTube: White, a Butoh-inspired dance.
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Beginings of a Treatise on Performance Poetry

What I wish to do is develop techniques for videotaping and presenting performance pieces.

The writer, poet, artist, composer usually works alone. It is the solitary nature of creativity. While there is a great dissemination of work on the Internet, poetry is not mainstream. A century ago people memorized poetry, recited poetry in their sitting rooms, poets, like Byron, or Tennyson, were best sellers.

With the advent of media, poetry has disappeared into obscure journals, or Internet sites of individuals and groups dedicated to poetry but who really only read each other. The culture-at-large has all but forgotten poetry.

Poetry is beautiful, where language is most astounding. Most songs don't achieve the simplicity, richness or depth of a finely written poem. Poetry is honed language reflecting and shaping the concerns of the milieu in which it comes to be.

Yet poets are not singers, if they were they'd be out there like Leonard Cohen, or Joni Mitchell. Nor should it be necessary for a poet to add to their years of study of literature by having to also study film-making. There is no reason why a film of a poem has to be illustrated by images and carried with music, though, of course, these filmic components can add to the piece. My point is that the poetry itself should be enough, as were Dylan Thomas' lyrical readings on stages across America in his time.

Not just the words of a poem, but the reading of it can be magic. Poets can recite their work. There are poetry readings all over the world. Poets can perform their own poems.

What I would like to develop are film and editing techniques whereby the solitary poet, writer, artist, composer may capture their work in a solitary fashion on film and present it in video format to a multi-media world. I don't want to turn the poet or composer into a director at the centre of the collaborative venture a film is because this runs contrary to the solitary and introspective nature of most poets or artists.

By nature, the creative process is solitary. Poets are not collaborative. They read; they write. Alone. Surely a camera can be set up and a film created in the solitary world that the creative spirit works in for sharing with others. I am, therefore, exploring how the single camera on a tripod capturing a single performance can be edited to create a charismatic film of poetry that may be appealing to wider audiences and thus bring poetry back into the mainstream.

In this way poetry may become available to the masses who may find many poets, writers, composers superlative and celebrate and support them in the ways that they should be doing and would be if their work was presented in a format that the culture favours.
Comments (9)

Magnolia Stellata, a videopoem

brendaclews has shared a video with you on YouTube:

From my Botticelli Venus Suite of Poems, 'Magnolia Stellata' is the first poem. I am learning how to make videopoems and while this is a complete version of the poem there is a talk to accompany it that I haven't yet recorded but I share anyhow. I taped this on Solstice 2008. Hope you enjoy this rendition.

It was videotaped with an iMac 10.5.5 and edited in Final Cut Express 4.0.1.
This was filmed on, and for, Winter Solstice, though there seemed a glitch and I couldn't upload it to You Tube for a few days.

A little late, but ah well.

My daughter saw it and while she would prefer I cut the hair shaking at the end, she thinks it's my best videopoem to date.

That's praise!
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Pre-amble to Magnolia Stellata - another attempt