Friday, 28 September 2012

ART VISUALS & POETRY; on Georg Trakl

Almost a year ago ART VISUALS & POETRY placed 'Proof (a triptych)' by David Tomaloff and me.
They said some really nice things about thet video, so I deceided to contact them.

I started a 'virtual' conversation with Sigrun Höllrigl about what their organisation did/does, about visuals, my work, videopoetry, art,...
She asked if I was interested (or did I ask if they had any projects I could join?) in trying to make a few video's for their project about Georg Trakl.

She send me two texts she had written for 'Trakl Remixed' (Premiere on 2.2.2011 in Salzburg in collaboration with: Verein Literaturhaus Salzburg and Trakl-Forschungs- und Gedenkstätte)

'requiem auf Georg Trakl' (Requiem on Georg Trakl) and 'ein blaues tier sig verneigt' (A blue animal bows)

We discussed a lot on what kind of atmosphere she wanted the video's to have, I suggested some visuals and sounds for the video's,...

 A lot of mailing back and forth with ideas and suggestions. With translations, titles, English readings,...

In the end she did two readings (in German) and I made two video's. One (Requiem on Georg Trakl) of them got selected for ZEBRA 2012, so I made English subtitles for that one.

On october 11 I will go to Vienna to attend ART VISUALS & POETRY their festival. We'll show the video's, there will be live performances, workshops,...

Anyways, for those who can't make it to Vienna...

ein blaues tier sich verneigt from Swoon on Vimeo.

requiem auf georg trakl from Swoon on Vimeo.

Friday, 21 September 2012

On the stars outside - Dena Rash Guzman

Earlier this year I had the honor of being one of Unshod Quills' featured artists.
In their 'First Anniversary Edition' they published a few of my videopoems.

That's how I came in contact with Dena Rash Guzman.
Dena is, among other things, editor of Unshod Quills but she's also a writer. One with an open mind and a lust for experimenting. In our corrsepondence about the video's and poems being published in UQ, she mentioned we should do something together.
I'm always up for another collaboration, sure.

"Do you have any poems lying around, ready to be set to video?" "Can I send over some raw edited footage and sounds for you to write to?"...

'I also like the idea of writing to your groove, because your groove is something I really, really dig.'

That last reply was enough for my ego so I did send her a few video's and sounds. Nothing worked out, loose idea's, working titles,...

"None of these 'works' or 'titles' are written in stone and can or might be changed, mixed,
mashed-up, reworked according to ideas, suggestions, proze or poems you might
have especially (written) for them...Do your magic!"

And she did.

"My first viewing is of dirt. My first thought is rather literal; it is about how when I moved here, I didn't know what to do with it. I had lived in the desert my whole life and avoided it. I knew that here in the rainforest I wanted to be consumed by it."

A bit later on she send me different pieces, work and words in progress. Good stuff.
But by the end of july I got a mailbox filled with great poems, workable materials...but I instantly fell for the opening lines "I woke up and opened the window. It got jammed on the stars outside."

No time to waste so I asked;
"Any change in doing something with this one? Do you need more time to revise?
Can you make a recording of a reading?"

"Great! Give me a few days to edit if you can. I will record it as best I can..."

Meanwhile I started working on a possible concept and let the poem we picked out direct me to the right images...There was already a basis. The raw footage of 'Dirt' and the track 'silhouette', that I later changed into the poem's title: 'On the stars outside'

On the stars outside
I woke up and opened the window.
It got jammed on the stars outside.

The stars were thick as headlice in a refugee camp.
Once, my sister and I had lice.

We both had long, thick hair and our mother
comforted us as they jumped off our heads.

They were fleeing the shampoo that was killing them.
She washed us and laid us on her lap

and combed our yards of hair with fine little teeth.
She gave us little combs like hers,
                                little combs like stars,

and we played them like little instruments,
                                like we were little angels. 
She took a curling iron and curled and curled

our yards of hair to kill the rest of the eggs.
She washed our bedding and put our stuffed animals

in plastic bags in the garage.

They stayed there for two weeks.

We didn't miss them much.
We didn't need to. We had her smell:

perfume and cigarette smoke,
the sound of her sipping a bottle

 of Dr. Pepper from time to time
while Oprah droned on the TV,

while she went over every last bit of our hair.
She would never have cut it. Not ever.
I made a first draft of what I had in mind and send it to her;

"I chose 'Alice in Wonderland' footage to layer with the 'dirt-video' you knew.
The images do not glide or work together, they seem to 'interfere'
 (Wikipedia: "The phenomenon of retroactive interference is highly significant in the study of memory as it has sparked a historical and ongoing debate in regards to whether the process of forgetting is due to the interference of other competing stimuli, or rather the unlearning of the forgotten material.")

Your poem is full of warm memories on one side (though nobody loves to have lice, I guess) but I wanted to use some kind of 'luring danger' (the rabit) as a kind of visual 'counterpoint' with the darker music as guide to the unknown that is outside..."

Later on I changed a few bits, re-edited a few parts and added extra footage and color.
When finished I asked Dena to send me a few lines on how she experienced the whole proces;

"I love writing from prompts and so when you sent me the video and sound samples I sat down to ingest them like a glass of wine. I kind of meditated on the titles of the samples and the content itself and began firing off poem after poem. Dirt was the inspiration for the poem you selected. Dirt makes me think of earth, soil, dust, decay. It's not dirty, though it can impose itself to make things so. For me, dirt is a host for the living, and that brought me to a childhood experience: I got lice at school when I was 8.

It was exciting to take your work, give you mine, and get your work back. I'm a fan of Poem films and yours in particular and it was a great experience."

I can only be happy with that and admit the same. It was the third time a writer responded on images and sounds or a prompt ('Proof' - David TOmaloff and 'Escape' - Donna Vorreyer)
For me, this is a great way of working. One I will surely repeat again after this...

And so here it is;

Words & voice: Dena Rash Guzman
Concept, camera, editing, music: Swoon
Footage: 'Alice in Wonderland' (W.W. Young, 1915)

Monday, 17 September 2012

Laat ooit ons sterven zijn / Let whenever our dying be

October 13th an anthology (compiled by Chrétien Breukers); "Tussen boog en snaar" (Uitgeverij P, Leuven, 2012) by Marleen de Crée will be presented.

Earlier this year I made new or adapted versions of three older videopoems for poems by Marleen. English translations for the three 'Nog Niet', 'Of wel' and 'Faites vos Jeux' were made by Annmarie Sauer.

We will screen these videopoems during the book presentation at 'Galerij De Zwarte Panter' (Antwerp, Belgium) in the midst of the beautiful expo by Jan Vanriet

Later in november (22/11) Marleen will be guest at Donderdagen van de poëzie. She will be interviewed by Johan de Boose, read from her work and we will show a few of our collaborations.

A while back Marleen and Jean (her husband) were visiting us to talk about these upcoming activities (among many other things)

During that visit She gave us a beautiful present. You see, Marleen is not only great with words. She's also a fine visual artist. This colorful work of art ('De kuise Suzanna')was an unexpected, lovely and very warm gift.

I just had to to something in return.

Later on Marleen send me one of her own favorite poems. A sonnet;

Laat ooit ons sterven zijn

laat ooit ons sterven zijn als bellen blazen,
met efemere schijnsels van een onbekende vlucht.
met witte duiven en stemmen die verdwijnen.
een vochtig praten tot aan de rand gevuld.

de adem in een achterstallig hijgen,
bewasemd met een glans van spijt.
het goud geteld met onbelemmerd zwijgen
en liefde in het teken van het krijt.

ik sterf geduldig in een waas van dromen
en dierbaarheid ligt in mijn hand,
als waaier voor de hitte die zal komen.

de duiven drijven teder in de lucht
en in de takken van de laatste bomen.
ik heb je lief, mijn warmte is niet opgebrand.

from: Letters to Plinius II: Over the bridge of hesitations, Poëziecentrum 1990
Annmarie Sauer made a translation.

let whenever our dying be

let whenever our dying be like blowing bubbles,
with ephemeral shimmers of an unknown flight.
with white doves and disappearing voices.
a moist talking filled to the brim.

the breath in an overdue panting,
misted with a glow of remorse.
the gold counted in unhindered silence
and love in the sign of chalk.

I die patiently in a haze of dreams
and fondness lies in my hand,
as a fan against the coming heat.

pigeons sail tenderly in the sky
and in the branches of the last trees.
I do love you, my warmth has not been burned up.

I immediately wanted to make a video for this, but it wasn't an easy task. The sonnet is delicate, light almost, while the subject isn't. It's a comforting poem.

I made a track and went looking for suitable images.

I had images of a tangle of wire with a black loose thread, like a pendant almost, as an image of life on a wire. Not that I wanted to use images that were too literally, I did want to use some footage I made of pigeons. It was al about coming and going, staying or not. About love...

Words: Marleen de Crée
Translation: Annmarie Sauer
Voice: Katrijn Clemer
Concept, camera, editing, music: Swoon

Friday, 7 September 2012

Hunting for peace / One thousand pieces

A while back I was looking for a suitable poem for my remembrance piece for Lidice.
That time I was lucky to stumble upon '1 November' by Bernard Dewulf.

During that search on Lyrikline I also came across a strong and impressive poem by Sharrif Simmons.
'One thousand pieces' (from 'Fast cities and objects that burn', Moore Black Press, NY, 1999)

He did a brilliant reading that sucked me straight in. I just had to do something with this.
After looking for a way to contact Sharrif, I was very happy and proud to have been given consent for making this videopoem.

there are long silences in me

they come to me
as they have come to millions

in them are roads
narrrow paths
with no signs or light
nor intimidation

only the silence of pure darkness
undisturbed by the beat of the dragon´s heart

i place my foot slowly
onto the path
the sensation invites me to walk further

i breathe silent air
no earth on my feet
without movement
i float along the thinning street

there are more silences
now than ever in my life
a universal peace that rips me into a thousand pieces
each part is suddenly renamed

i am Allah
i am Krishna
i am Jesus
i am Buddha
i am Vishnu and Ogun
i am Shiva
i am Osiris
i am Odin and Zeus

Pavrati and Kali
Elegba and Oshun

i am one thousand pieces
bursting into the midnight canvas
my colors are no longer of this rainbow
i´m walking in unison with the answers to my questions
and the deep nest of black clouds

i am Elohim
and Thor
in parade with the Valkryies
i am the madness of King George
i am Isis and Rah
Ahnknaton and Horus

a clap of miracles and lightening shatters the dark sky
the illumination blinds me
sinking me further into the silence of the still mind
in my mind i see this same road
on it walks a child
it is a girl
her features are thin
her skin is deep black
her hair is even darker
and sparkles with grey streaks
she is no more than seven years old
i reach for her hand
from her hair she removes a scroll
and whispers in my ear
i, too, am made of
one thousand pieces

Believe it or not, I had this track; 'Hunting for peace' that was just perfect for the rythm and atmosphere of his reading. A reading he had done for Lyrikline in 2001.

All I needed were the right images. As you can see in the pictures. I went for images I made of a helicopter. Nothing more noting less.

Words & Voice: Sharrif Simmons
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon
Recording poem: M. Mechner for

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Woot woot and other goodies

This fall has all the promises of a full bag of goodies...
A busy one, but packed with all kinds of selections, screenings, collaborations, trips,...

A small run through the festivities;

For "Uitgesproken" (A vinyl record with ten poets) I delivered two soundscapes to accompany a poem by Delphine Lecompte and Michaël Vandebril. The record will be presented at "Zuiderzinnen" (16/09/2012, Antwerp, Belgium) and at 'De Boekenbeurs' (our national bookfair)(03/11/2012, Antwerp, Belgium).

'Aan het water', 'Faites vos jeux', 'Tread Lightly and 'Dear Giant ('Of wel' - 'Or shall it')' will be part of a video loop I'm making for the opening of 'Cadixroute 2012' on 29/09/2012 (Antwerp, Belgium).
I will also make some brand new videopoems in the theme of 'Wind & Water' to be screened at 'Winterwoorden', the closing festivity at the end of december.

'De droom van de trappen (staircase dreams)' was selected for and will be screened at the Meridian Czernowitz festival 8/09/2012 (Czernowitz, Ukraine).

'The Moon and the Yew Tree', 'Red Lost Ghosts', 'Entry (Exit Strategies I)', 'Proof', 'Thespianic Mythologies No.4' and 'Sleepdancing (Giddoo)' are selected for "Void International" and will be screened in October 2012 (Athens, Greece).

'Odds and Ends' made it to the final ten of the "VidLit" videopoem competition; Voting will be open until September 15th.

'De Sluis / The sluice' was selected for and wil be screened at "Co-Kisser Second Annual Poetry-Film Festival" on 06/10/2012 (Minneapolis, US).

Collaboration with ART VISUALS & POETRY for their Trakl Remixed project. I made 2 video's based on texts written by Sigrun Höllrigl. One of the two was selected for "ZEBRA 2012".
The two will be premiered during a workshop about videopoetry that I will attend at their festival 11/10/2012 in Vienna.

'Peter Quince at the clavier' was selected for the competition of ZEBRA 2012 and will be screened during the festival (Berlin, Germany) also selected but outside the competition were 'Proof', 'The Stockholm Syndrome','Flight (The Sights and Sounds of Arctic Birds)', 'requiem auf georg trakl', 'Ochtend/Dawning'. Enough reasons for me to go over to Berlin and visit the festival.

October 13th an anthology "Tussen boog en snaar" (Uitgeverij P, Leuven, 2012) by Marleen de Crée will be presented. I made new or adapted versions of three older videopoems that I made last year. English translations for the three 'Nog Niet', 'Of wel' and 'Faites vos Jeux' were made by Annmarie Sauer. We will screen these videopoems during the book presentation at 'Galerij De Zwarte Panter' (Antwerp, Belgium)

Also on october 13th, Visible Verse Festival, three of my videopoems were selected;
'Cioran', 'The Road Not Taken' and 'Odds and Ends'

Poetry International selected also three of my works for their Cinépoetry feature. ('Proof', 'The Road Not Taken' and 'Where sins are more sinful') the publication date for the next issue of Poetry International has been moved to the winter of 2012 and they are also planning a screening of the selected films in Chicago, and potentially other cities, to coincide with the release of the print journal. 

You can have a look at all the selected video's on my site.

Between all these great happenings I will be making and releasing new work;

A collaboration with Dena Rash Guzman; She wrote a poem: "On the stars outside" based on music and images I had send her.
Videopoems for "One thousand pieces" a poem by Sharrif Simmons, for "From a notebook weighting 194 grams" by Rodney Wood, for "Altijd (Always)" by Luuk Gruwez, for "Notes from noise" an English poem by Jan Lauwereyns, for "Memoires" by Paul Snoek and for "Laat ooit ons sterven zijn" (a sonnet by Marleen de Crée) with a translation of Annmarie Sauer.

Then there's some more news about a big project involving a lot of poets, translations and collaborations; a 'poetry-film' (I'm aiming between 20-30 min.), but more about that in a later post.

Let me just say thank you. Thank you to all the writers and poets who have trusted me with their words. Thank you to all the curators and festival-organisers who are willing to give my films a big screen or other ways of attention.