by Karyn Eisler
Karyn Eisler is a Vancouver-based writer, cross-disciplinary artist, sociologist, and faculty member at Langara. The College of Higher Learning. A 2011 Best of the Net nominee, her stories, poems, images, and collaborations have appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals including BluePrintReview, Moving Poems, Locus Novus, qarrtsiluni, and On a Narrow Windowsill—the world’s first Twitter literature anthology (Folded Word Press). She teaches a course on ‘Animals and Society’.
by James Brush
Again this year we decided to produce a videopoem for a piece from our winning chapbook to serve as a video trailer and help build anticipation for what we think is a very engaging collection. The book will be released early next month, and this film will have a permanent place in the online version. In the meantime, please feel free to share either the Vimeo or YouTube version of it far and wide, to blogs, Facebook or other social sites, with or without a link to this post. (It’s embeddable media. That’s the point.)
Swoon Bildos, A.K.A. Marc Neys (website, blog) is a Belgian artist and filmmaker who has made some 35 videopoems, in English and in Dutch, in little over a year. Montana-based poet Sherry O’Keefe recently interviewed him about his videopoetry, asking about his process, philosophy, background and more. Marc blogged (in Dutch) about this project at the beginning of the assignment and also after completion. He remarked that he found Kenneth’s poems at times reminiscent of the atmosphere conjured up by David Vann in his book Legend of a Suicide, in the devastating, raw beauty of these remote forests.
Kenneth Pobo, the winner of qarrtsiluni’s 2011 chapbook contest, has four full-length collections of poetry and, including Ice and Gaywings, twenty chapbooks. He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. He and his partner and two cats enjoy gardening, music, and the Wisconsin Northwoods. You can catch Ken’s radio show, Obscure Oldies, on Saturdays from 6:00-8:30 pm EST at WDNR 89.5 FM.
Watch on Vimeo (HTML5 version available for Chrome and Safari browsers).
A little over two years ago, I started working on possibilities for visual art using simple permutation operations: ways of reordering sets of information. These possibilities multiplied until a black, hardbound, gridded notebook was about half full and bursting with ideas and sketches. One day I took the notebook out to lunch with me and left it — astoundingly — on a park bench! Despite frantic efforts, I never recovered it. The same day I bought a new notebook and began where I left off, but never quite regained the momentum I had established with the original notebook.
But all was not lost with the (admittedly, somewhat deflating) loss of the notebook. I began to focus more on translating these same ideas into sound. This past summer, I decided to attempt to compose a suite of compositions for solo guitar, which happens to be my instrument. I had recently been alerted to the Fibonacci sequence, which is somewhat famous as the mathematical basis for spiral mapping, but I used it in a simpler way, merely as a sequencing method. Starting with certain scales, I constructed generative sequences of notes using the Fibonacci structure. These constituted the originating material, or sets, for the permutations. Next, I used something called a “latin square”* permutation technique to generate re-orderings of the original sequences. This is how the final sequences of pitches were made. I also created sets of rhythms which were reordered in every possible way.
The results of all the above work formed the melody, or as I think of it, the top line of the five solo guitar pieces. Immediately, I realized the pieces could accommodate — and in fact needed — a counterpoint, or “bottom line,” which I created in a traditional, intuitive artistic method involving choices that reflect my taste and sensibilities. Each piece ends with a different chordal flourish that displays the notes of the scale. The top line represents the main substance of the concept: to construct a system which in turn generates music outside my imagination. The bottom line is a concession to taste and volition.
Originally I had wanted to compose very simple solo guitar music for myself to play, as I am not a virtuoso guitarist. As it happens, the music that emerged is extremely difficult, at least for me. The suite consists of five “movements,” called cycles. On the audio/visual presentation above, my rendition of the First Cycle is heard, followed by the Third Cycle played by the computer, and finally the Second Cycle played again by me. The visuals show some of the pages from the second notebook, some finished art pieces, and the scores for the solo guitar suite, titled “Permutation No. 1,” so that this work may more precisely be called “A Translational Odyssey from Numerically-based Visual Art to Musical Systems.”
—James Ty Cumbie
Recording by Atom Fellows
James Ty Cumbie has performed with Lukas Ligeti, Daniel Carter, Ned Rothenberg, Samir Chatterjee, Butch Morris, Walter Thopson, and many others. His compositions have been performed at New Languages Festival ‘09, The Vision Festival Series, Detour Jazz, and other NYC venues. He even once performed samba percussion for Lula, President of Brazil! From 2003-08 he produced and presented the Freezone Music Series, which showcased many of the most important avant-jazz artists from NYC, other parts of the US, and Europe. He has written jazz criticism for All About Jazz and worked as a graphic designer for nearly 30 years. He currently resides in Washington Heights where he is focussing on visual art and music composition. Both his art and music are strongly informed by minimalism, conceptualism, mathematics and serial/modular systems.
Tomorrow we’ll begin showcasing poems from each of the finalists in our 2010 chapbook contest, but to kick off the series, we teamed up with regular qarrtsiluni contributor and blogger James Brush to produce a video for a poem of his choice from the winning manuscript by Clayton T. Michaels. We were extremely impressed with James’ first go at the genre two months ago, God Bless Johnny Cash. It turned out that, in addition to being a fine poet, he also has a degree in film.
We have a strong interest in promoting videopoetry, also known as poetry film and cinepoetry — see Dave’s site Moving Poems, for example — so we decided to do this in preference to a more standard book trailer (itself an interesting new genre). Once the book is officially launched on August 30, other filmmakers will also be welcome to explore videopoem possibilities with the author’s permission. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to link to and share this video. And needless to say, we’d love to get more video submissions to our regular themed issues, too. (You can see all the posts in our Videos category here.)
James Brush lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, cat and two rescued greyhounds, and teaches English in a juvenile correctional facility. His poems have appeared in various places online and in print — see the complete list of publications on his blog. He published his first novel, A Place Without a Postcard, in 2003. He has been fascinated by Martian landscapes since he saw the first Viking images in the mid-1970s.
Direct link to video (HTML5 player available in Chrome and Safari browsers)
This is a “videopainting” about what society demands from us as either immigrants or citizens: to assimilate our individual identities and cultures into a larger mainstream persona. The metaphor of a mannequin — arriving from the factory with pre-painted makeup on large arresting eyes, pre-fab white skin, and the seemingly perfect bust — is evocative of the dehumanizing aspect of cultural assimilation. However, this image we construct to integrate into our cultural surroundings is often incomplete, tentative or conflictual; many find themselves going forwards and backwards with this facade, sometimes equally behind and in front of it. This short film is a palindromic painting of an emotional landscape that plays on the mirrors of identity, the multiple masks we offer in different settings, and our subconscious rebellion that emerges in times of epiphany.
Isabelle Carbonell (website, blog) is a documentary photographer and documentary filmmaker whose determination to give a voice to the voiceless has driven her to document political, social, and environmental injustices around the world. When filming, she becomes her environment — sleeping, eating, and breathing with those she is focusing on, transcending the divide between observer and subject easily. With all the ambitions of an artist, she also employs her rigorous academic training as a researcher to produce an in–depth reportage. As a result, her documentary films and photos try to reveal a deeply complex social understanding while still offering an exquisite artistic vision. Isabelle’s documentary skills have taken her to countries such as India, Qatar, Cuba, Mexico, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua.
Video link. (If you can’t see the video, you need to download Flash.)
“In/organic Transmissions” functions as a conversation that is not taking place. In it, elements of natural disintegration attempt to engage with the artificial. This piece entertains notions of health and communication on both micro and macro levels.
Patricia McInroy (website) graduated with an MFA in Visual Arts from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2007. Her video work has been screened at film festivals in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and New York. It is also being shown at schools in Maine, Massachusetts, Florida and South Carolina. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she teaches photography to incarcerated youth through the Fresh Eyes program.