Monday, 18 July 2016

Mid-year videos 2016

Process notes on the video projects I've been involved with over the past few months...

I Drove to the River



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Read the original poem

This video is a bit different to those I've been focusing on for the past couple of years. Like the other videos I've put together over this time, it is based on poetry. But in this case the poem is put to electronic music incorporating my own sung and spoken vocals in the mix. The poem at the heart of the piece is 'God Bless Johnny Cash' by James Brush in Austin, Texas. It is from his 2016 collection, 'Highway Sky'. Music is by Cwtch, the long-standing 'cyberduo' of me and Paul Foster (aka Dementio13) in Cardiff, Wales. This is our first music together as Cwtch for a couple of years, and the first from our forthcoming music release based on poems from 'Highway Sky'. The original poem here was remixed for the music track and video, removing the last line and slightly altering the wording of some lines. We've also re-titled it to 'I Drove to the River', which is a better reflection of the feel of the music and video. These are all things James Brush has given his blessing to, both by email communication and by the release of his poetry collection on a Creative Commons remix licence. The main image - the one that opens and closes the video - is by Dizifilms, specialists in drone footage. I found this via the Creative Commons site, Mazwai. Other footage is from Videoblocks, royalty-free on subscription. The central section of the piece includes several images of rivers, to which I applied abstract fx. All of this adds up to a piece that is part video poem, part music video. At a little over seven minutes, this is the longest piece in duration within the body of poetry-based video work I've been assembling since 2014.

In the Forest



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Read the poem

Much closer to home, I was delighted when well-known Byron Bay writer, Candida Baker, contacted me recently with some lovely poems she thought might be of interest. She already had high quality voice recordings of her own readings, produced by Sunshine Coast musician and sound artist, Michael Whiticker, and some abstracted landscape photographs to work with as well. An attempt at creating a video poem was irresistible to me. This video, 'In The Forest', is the result. It is, again, a visually abstract piece. The effect of motion from still images was achieved by creating three layers, one static and two slowly zooming in opposing directions, and also by creating multi-layer dissolves between the images. I was struck by the beautiful colours of the Australian landscape that were captured in the original stills and was pleased for their colours and textures to become even more abstractly focused in the video images. The music is by Podington Bear, whose wonderful sounds I have included in videos before. These I've sourced from the many musical tracks available around the internet on Creative Commons license. The bird sounds are from Tai Inoue at Nature Sounds Australia in Cairns, from a download link he shared at Soundcloud with permission to re-use. The email collaboration with Candida Baker was very engaged and a joy from start to end. She and I will be meeting in person for the first time this week, when she interviews me for the online magazine she edits and publishes, Verandah. It's rare that I have the opportunity to meet internet collaborators and I'm very much looking forward to this. The profile will appear in an issue of the magazine in the near future.

Kitsch Postcards



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Read the poem

Of the three videos here featured, this one, 'Kitsch Postcards' was the most time-intensive to produce. This is despite the fact that it is a straightforward 'still image remix', with static images cut to fit the rhythm of a soundtrack. The poem is by Sydney-based Amanda Stewart, whose brilliant vocal performances are a specialty of her work. The recording was sourced from the marvellous German website, Lyrikline, which publishes poetry from around the world accompanied by voice recordings by authors. The stills in the video are from a large number of photographers, all making their work available for remix on Creative Commons license at Flickr. The full list of photographic artists featured in the video can be found here. What made the image cut especially time-intensive was, firstly, the decision to cut very quickly and precisely to the rhythm of Amanda Stewart's vocal phrases. This led to the really intensive part: finding satisfying, legally-available images to relate to each one of these phrases. The soundtrack is led by Amanda Stewart's vocal performance, underpinned by didgeridoo drone from Frankenflute, sourced again on Creative Commons license from freesound.org. Mixed with this is an edited field recording by Sydney-based, Technai, also Creative Commons licensed. I put together the video in draft form and then approached Amanda Stewart with it to ask permission to release it publicly. I was fully prepared that she may or may not like what I'd done and was ready to view it all as a private video-making exercise if permission was not given. Fortunately she agreed, if I was able to gain permission too from Lyrikline, who own the rights to the voice recording. This was kindly granted and they also helped further by providing a high quality .wav version of the voice recording. As an artist who has most often collaborated internationally, I am finding it very rewarding at present to be involving myself more in Australian poetry.