Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ve znaku (In the Sign) - Jaromír Typlt

If there's one thing I really like about the internet, it got to be the possibility and speed in how we can 'meet' and collaborate with people everywhere.

Throught the fiber I 'met' Jaromír Typlt.
At a certain point we started to write about poetry and videopoems and the possibility of working together.
On his website there were English translations of some of his poems.
We decided on one of them;      

Ve znaku


Probudilo mě něco v páteři.
až nadoraz ke zprolámání,
hrozná bolest, musel jsem z toho prorazit ven:
už ani luk
ani kniha

ani kniha
ani luk
už se to nedalo dál snášet.

Zvednul jsem se,
chvíli tak na posteli v polospánku

dokud se v tom mi nepodařilo rozpoznat.
Luk a kniha?

se ohýbal a napínal a šlo mu to konečně hladce
bez lámání.

Hřbet knihy
se konečně nerozpadal
a udržel rozevření na kterékoliv stránce.

A bolest se pomalu rozpouštěla,
jak to tak zapadalo do sebe,
za chvíli jsem se mohl položit
a znovu klidně usnout.

Na obratle jsem za celou tu dobu
ani nepomyslel.

Ze sborníku k 90. narozeninám Ludvíka Kundery (2010)

In the Sign

Something in the spine awoke me.

At full throttle till the breaking point,

Awful ache, I had to break through:

Neither the bow

Nor the book

Neither the book
Nor the bow
It couldnʼt be brooked any longer.
I heaved,
A while on the bed in half-sleep
Until I managed to recognize myself therein.
The bow and the book?
The bow
Bent and drew, smoothly, at last,
Without breaking.
The bookʼs binding
Didnʼt fall apart, at last,
Holding together openings on all pages.
The ache dissolved, slowly,
As it all fit together,
In a while I could lay myself down,
And fall asleep peacefully.
Throughout, the vertebrae
werenʼt given a single thought.
The "L. K." dedication is meant for the poet and translator
Ludvík Kundera (1920-2010)
Both initial characters of his name are the initial characters of two
keywords of the poem (Luk, Kniha - Bow, Book).


Jaromír sent me a recording of the poem in Czech. The translation by David Vichnar (2010) will be used as subtitles.
Listening to his steady voice and reading the translation gave me the idea of working with images of hands and  blank pages.
For music I went back to a recording I made earlier:


This worked fine with the poem and his voice. It was the music that gave me the final idea for the visuals. I wanted 'flickering' images to go with the 'cuts' in the music.
I filmed different empty pages, inside of books...
These were edited as the 'background' adding different layers of blue.
I combined different tracks with 'pages' together to create the feel of the different pages.
Lines (spines) and flickering colours.
After I made the background I started filming my hands; different poses, gestures (smooth and distorted, gentle, alone and together)
The hands tell a different tale, adding a new dimension to the whole.
Take a look for yourself;

Words and voice: Jaromír Typlt
Translation: David Vichnar
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon

Friday, 17 May 2013

Witness (Lissa Kiernan)

A confession.
I love the new issue on Qarrtsiluni; Animals in the City.
The variety is great (credit to the editors) and the quality (as always on Qarrtsiluni) really good.
So for the 11th time I picked out a poem (and podcast) to play around with.


I step out to buy toilet paper and through the chorus of cars,
I think I hear the delicate, steady clip-clop of horse hooves.
The sound grows insistent, and through the leaves of the trees,
I sight the tips of white feathers—plumes of white feathers

like river reeds swaying in tandem with the breeze. One by one,
two white horse heads materialize, nostrils flaring with indignity

at their frou-frou headdresses, at being roped to this surrey
in, of all places, Brooklyn. An old black man taps

a steadying hand to his lopsided top hat—it, too, a monstrosity—
as he begrudgingly flicks the reins. White limousines follow.

Surely this is a movie set or an Irish funeral. Then I spot them
in the back of the cart: a couple, just married from the looks

of her dress, a bit dazed and—could it be? Yes. Embarrassed,
Wondering just when this seemed like a good idea.

The woman—the new wife—sees me and waves, as if wanting
to make this the moment she’s dreamed, wanting the world to see

she is loved by someone who appears to be a nice-enough man.
He doesn’t wave, but he smiles, and tries to look less sheepish.

After all, it’s early November, late afternoon—
and there is yet some sun and someone to have seen them.

It's a poem written and read by Lissa Kiernan.

The track I wanted to lay this podcast in had to be a bit dreamy but also suspenseful and foreboding (with a small hint of mysteriousness)

something like the intro of this one:

The images had to be lush, but with a hint of decay. I had a vase with tulips, way past their ideal point of freshness. The petals falling gave me the idea for this video...

I re-edited the intro of the track to fit the podcast and made the
imagery glide over the track.
Anyway, have a look and listen;

Words & Voice: Lissa Kiernan
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon
Thanks: Qarrtsiluni (podcast 30/4/2013)

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Shipwright's Love Song (Jo Bell)

The Bristol Poetry festival has a nice spot for videopoetry: Liberated Words.
Their open call this year has 2 separate categories.
One of them is "Four by Four"
Videopoems of three minutes or less are invited as a response to a printed poem by four poets.
The poets and poems are:
Philip Gross: Heaps      
Lucy English: from 'Take Me to the City'
Jo Bell: The Shipwright’s Love Song
Johnny Fluffypunk: Bill Blake’s Birthday Cake for Adrian Mitchell

I picked out Jo Bell's 'The Shipwright's Love Song'

Oh, but the lines of her!
The curve and glinting swell –
the smell, as sweet as pitch pine,
thick and hot as tar.
Oh, I was launched and splashing in the slipway,
happy to be rudderless
and yawing, mast head
touching to the foam.

Oh, but her skin was salt,
was starred with gasping salt beneath my tongue,
and slowly
she came round to me –
bucking and slipping at my touch,
making way in fits and starts
to reach me and be calm.

Later, long before she rocked me into sleep
I saw the seas, saw all of them in one blue ache:
unlandmarked, vast; horizonless.

Reading this poem I immediately knew (felt) what I wanted for this video.
I had images made last year (visiting old boats with Alastair Cook) in Antwerp (left screen) and  earlier this year on St. Andrew's beach (right screen)
The images were 'tested' on several tracks.
'Maximum Suspicion' worked the best with the images, but I still needed a voice.

Nic Sebastian (still the most spot-on reader I know) was willing to participate and she provided me with a great recording almost the same day.
That reading steered me in the direction of another track. So I combined the intro and outro
of 'Maximum Suspicion' with this one:

All the elements now fitted perfectly.
Have a look and listen...

words: Jo Bell
Voice: Nic Sebastian
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon
Thanks: Katrijn Clemer

Friday, 3 May 2013

De bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen (Tsead Bruinja)

Tsead Bruinja is a poet from The Netherlands. He lives in Amsterdam, but is rooted in Fryslân.
He writes in different languages.
I met him at the last Stanza festival (Thanks to Michaël Vandebril for leading me to him) and was blown away by how beautiful the Frisian language(s) sounds.

After the festival I asked him if I could make a video for one of his Frisian poems.
Yes I could. Great.

A few weeks ago Tsead started to release (new) recordings from his latest collection 'Stofsûgersjongers / Stofzuigerzangers'  on soundcloud. I immediately picked out
De bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen to make a video for.


wy jouwe te folle ljocht tegearre
do en ik tinke dat se ús net sjogge
mar se sjogge ús

lykas besjogge se in himel
fol fallende stjerren op flylân
ein augustus

it is nacht op it eilân langstme
dat skûmkoppen fan ferwyt en ferlet oanfrette
en golle weagen fan belofte sân oansette

de bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen op it strân
it hast op in folwoeksen sûpen set en it oan elkoar bekend

sjogge inoar inoar inoar

ien boat kin my meinimme
mar dêrfoar moat ik slimmer siik wêze
en minder ljocht jaan

ien boat komt net
hoe't ik ek flok

baarnt ôf
op oare weagen

raand goud

de bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen
en wy

wy jouwe tefolle ljocht
I started out with creating a soundscape for this great and warm reading;

The images for this one gave me a bit of  a struggle. I wanted to stay away from the obvious link with light and fire. Tried out several things (Tulips losing their leaves, citynights, bare feet in water, ...)
and none of them made the right click with the poem or the music.
Back to the obvious...
I found great stockfootage from detailed fire-particles. They led me to the rest of the images and editing. So ther you go, sometimes the obvious images just work the best...

Tsead loved the result (Always a joy to hear) and promised me to work on an English translation, so you can expect a version with titles in the future.

Have a look and listen;

Words & Voice: Tsead Bruinja
Concept, Editing & Music: Swoon
Thanks: VFX Footage

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

I'm sorry but I've witnessed what's under your suburban bruises

Awkword Paper Cut is a brand new online magazine.
Meg Tuite a class A writer and editor (for Connotation Press, The Santa Fe Literary Review and Used Furniture Review.)

For Awkword Paper Cut's inaugural issue Meg Tuite asked me for a collaboration.
Never worked with Meg before and always up for new inputs, so yes.

She send me this poem; I'm sorry but I've witnessed what's under your suburban bruises
A bleak & heavy piece. The kind of poetry that starts creeping out of the back of your head and then
pulls out a hammer and hits you straight into your face.

Sorry, but I’ve witnessed what’s under your suburban bruises
A heart beats through those t-shirts
you used to wear.

‘You Bite!’ in white letters on black
across your chest
when we had sex
in your basement
while your dad shattered dishes
in your kitchen

cursing slurs
at your mom
crouched in her pastel

‘Chicago Bears’ jersey
blue with orange stripes on the shoulders
upstairs on the couch
you pass out
in my lap
your dad says
‘I’d like to be face down
in your crotch.’

‘Budweiser rips it’
faded red, white and blue
as I stare at the ceiling
in the basement

smacking fists
muffling an army of relatives
I’ve seen in your sneer

and your clumsy steps
wracked with
the ketchup of your family
embedded in your bloody eye
and swollen-gummed smirk

You kiss me
and then hold my arms down
rape the me of me
that doesn’t know me

Yeah, you dickered with me
over whose scars
a creepier basement

I almost forfeited
to those
wooden, creaking steps
of yours
that paralyzed me
back in time

At least your’s
were chronic and amplified

hollow stairs
were carpeted

engulfed in plush
flesh that struggled
underneath a whisper
the family tree
was stifled

The reading she did of this poem was as powerful. Fun stuff to work with.
The track I've put her reading to is

Something in the combination of her words/voice and these sounds led me back to a movie I used in antother video, FF Coppola's 'Dementia 13'
I picked out a few scenes and faces and started editing. Looked for the right movements that I could feature as some kind of recurring visual chorus.
In the end I added a layer of lights and colours.

Anyways, check for yourself...and check the first issue of Awkword Paper Cut to.

words & voice: Meg Tuite
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon
footage: Dementia 13 (FF Coppola)