Sunday, March 17, 2013
direct link: Brandon Pitts @ Videofag March 2013
I did some of the sort of filming that interests me last night at a poetry reading at Videofag in Toronto. This snippet isn't fully 'worked out' but it's getting there, and I'm okay with posting it.
I'm also learning new video editing software, so creating this video took awhile. Be gentle, folks. Also, I follow my rhythms, my aesthetic, in videoing and editing rather than trying to produce a facsimile for the performers (there were other video cameras running anyhow). So, with the authors' permission, I took ...liberties. Enjoy!
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
direct link: Tangled Garden, a triptych of nature poems by Brenda Clews, 2012.
Tangled Garden: a triptych of nature poems, a video/filmpoem by Brenda Clews
-A Floral Opera (2011)
-In the Hands of the Garden Gods (1979)
-Slipstream, the Tangled Garden (2006)
(with impromtu speaking between the poems, which each end with ~~~ in the subtitle track.)
Beautiful singing by the musician, Catherine Corelli mixed from her album, Seraphic Tears (2010) on Jamendo (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.
In contrast to the zippy, fast cuts and commercial-like flavours of many video/filmpoems, Tangled Garden is a slow virtually single-shot video. It is an 'art film.' It is 22 minutes of slowed-down footage. It does move through a process that is Surreal and dream-like. Not much happens, but a lot passes by, if you know what I mean. Tangled Garden is the opposite of an action film.
It has taken 9 months to produce this video. I used some of the footage - you might recognize it - for two 'Solstice' videopoems, non-religious celebrations, one commemorating the beginning of my favourite season, Summer, 'Green Goddess' Masque and one celebrating finding the light in the darkness of Winter, Shadow Cave, because I liked the dance clips, but they were always intended for this videopoem. Tangled Garden is a major piece for me.
Tangled Garden unfolds in a spatial and painterly way; it is not narratorial or linear. I often work with doubles, dopplegängers and reflections, with subjectivities, the selves that compose us, and there is little of that here, but minimally. Rather, the focus is the poetry itself. Three nature poems are spoken as a voiceover, poems that span 30 years. I made a subtitle track (that took 3 days with lots of subsequent corrections), so you can read along if you like.
Three clips form the visual tracks of the video poem. The initial background was shot in early May 2011 in Niagara Falls and the two dance clips on different days in High Park in Toronto (accompanied by my daughter who read while the tripod held the camera videoing me dancing) in June 2011. Both of the dance clips have been worked extensively in Final Cut to arrive at the visual patterns that you see here. As an artist, my video work is very painterly, and I find I compose video canvases based on the static, pictorial vision of a painting. Perhaps they are paintings in motion.
After I shot the initial footage of the plant foliage on May 9, 2011, during a sleepless night on that trip I watched the clip over and over on the small viewfinder of my video camera, wondering what I would do with it. Without seeing earth or sky, a breeze blowing through the tangle of leaves and stalks, light breaking through when the wind was stronger, I found it very rhizome-like, and it reminded me of my memories of my life in that I could enter or exit anywhere and still arrive at an understanding of who I am.
I wrote 'A Floral Opera' (2011) for that initial footage, and for Catherine Corelli's voice in her incredible neoclassical metal album, Seraphic Tears, which I had listened to enroute to Niagara Falls.
Tangled Garden is composed of three earth poems. 'A Floral Opera' is, I feel, one of my most successful poems. Later in the year, having collected 20 years worth of my journals in a large basket, I began going through them, and found a poem written in 1979 based on a dream I had had. 'In the Hands of the Garden Gods' (1979) describes that dream, and it seemed to match the footage and was another approach to the themes 'A Floral Opera' alluded to. I decided to include the older poem. Currently I live near the rooming house where I had rented a small ground floor apartment as a graduate student and where I wrote 'Garden Gods,' and one night, quite far along in the editing of the filmpoem, I had a 'Eureka moment' on the street corner near the house where I once lived: the strange central figure that I have created in the video, the one who moves slowly through the 22 minutes, almost exactly duplicates the transforming earth muse figure, the "lady, lady, lady" who appeared in the dream I had in 1979! Our lives are a strange unity. The final poem that I included was another earth poem, 'Slipstream, the Tangled Garden,' (2006) about hungry ghosts, time, death and the resurrection of life that continues through us even if when we shall no longer exist.
In between the three poems is some ad-libbed talking that I initially did while watching the footage and which my daughter encouraged me to include in the final version. The impromptu speaking is a bit repetitive, but perhaps that's a welcome refrain from the densely packed imagery of each of the poems. After each of the 'official' poems I have put '~~~' in the subtitle track to note their ending and that what follows is a speaking between poems.
The themes in the poems are quite complex, but also they are rich with imagery that I hope holds your attention. They are strange, Surreal, dream-like, body-based, earth-centred, full of reflection, passion, living. The three poems together cover the span of a lifetime of rumination on Nature, the meaning of being alive, having a woman body, birth, life, death, amidst the heritage of our intellectual culture and the extraordinary creativity of our planet which I call the "green fire." A planet we are busy overrunning with our extreme fertility as a species and our polluted ways. I don't, however, push the 6th mass extinction that we are in, though the outlook for our species is gloomy. Emphatically, the "green fire" is far stronger than us. We are merely representations, minuscule embodiments of the earth's creative energy. I embrace the earth's deep and fecund creativity. In the tangled garden of our lives on our natal earth there is beauty, grace, love, compassion, sorrow, fear, caring, and sweetness, sweetness.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
direct link: PL: P(ink) L(ady)
PL: P(ink) L(ady)
once, the sakura tree
like split cherries
a pulp of wounds
I, fleshy stone fruit
soft under his fists
brazen, the road
where I walk
brazen, my ripe cherry
A creative treatment on the theme of violence against women. The ending is meant to be positive - she's no longer hiding, is defiantly living from her source of nectar.
Shot with an iPhone4, and edited in FCE. The text had a lot of treatment, and took as long to create as the film itself. Normally I don't like text in videopoems, unless the text is a pictorial element in the composition.
The track, Chinese Sunrise, by bjarneo on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/bjarneo/bjarne-o-chinese-sunrise
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
direct link: Untitled(2) by Eduardo Cuadrado
Eduardo, I am moved beyond comprehension by your Untitled (2). Your sculptures? Realist, the realism of poverty. Yes, I know this world. A beaten world; people who are usually ignored in the busy city. The shadows. The shadows who you have given solid form to in metal and other materials appear everywhere, as sculptures. Magnified. They are worthy of focus. They have their stories. People stop and look for a moment. It is strange. They are the poor, lost, downtrodden, forgotten; it is as if they call to their gods in the moments of silent suffering you have represented. They ask the existential questions. Why? Why me? How did this happen? How do I rise from this place of despair? I am in tears. I want to protect all of these beautiful people from the harsh life they have been cast into by circumstance, drug abuse, violence, or a soft incessant falling away of belief in the status quo until there is only raw existence left.
This is a great video. You disabled comments, so I started writing a response here...
Besides the stark, troubling opening shot, a video of an installation on the street with a doorway, the figures are all male. They wear suits or trench coats: perhaps they are white collar workers who have fallen through the cracks in culture. Some of them are installed where they might have worked before getting laid off or fired for whatever reason; or perhaps it was bankruptcy. The men in Cuadrado's film, his sculptures, have intellects, you can see that. They are conscious of their predicament. They are worn down by life. But they have not blown their minds out with drugs or alcohol; they are fully aware of where they are. In their faces of despair, desperation, futility, humiliation, sorry we see a deep grief.
That grief burns in my soul; whether it does in all viewers, all of those who witness these works, I don't know.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
direct link: Sporadic Music #1: -a crazy dance-
__Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
The animated letters, a dancing semiotext throughout:
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:
Second screen:Dance like a
in your livingroom.
What is a
security of the self?
Without constraint, unfettered,
who would you be?
__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.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Women In Spring, 2008
I've spent the last few hours locating these images between two computers, and attempting to represent the colour accurately by uploading, fiddling in Photoshop Elements, uploading... you get the idea. They are larger images than I have previously uploaded.
Hopefully in Picasa I'll figure out how to do 'individual slideshows' and then one large one since I am doing these for my new art website: https://sites.google.com/site/brendaclews/
For reasons I accept (if it's a team website the danger of images being accidentally deleted by any number of users is quite high), Google Sites does not allow you to delete images you've uploaded. So I'm going to host the images from Google's Picasa.
This painting is one of my favourites, and looks better 'in the painted flesh,' on my wall, than in the final image (perhaps I need to take a new photo of it), but I hope it imparts some joy to you.
There's a bunch of writing around it at the website on the main page.
Brenda's Art Website.
|From Women In Spring - Brenda Clews|
Friday, March 06, 2009
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.