Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Word to Image: Cinema inspired by poems

curated and notes by Konrad Steiner

Cinema is used here in a response to poetry. These tapes and films were chosen out of the American experimental tradition to exemplify various techniques of marrying the two arts. Poetry as the art of utterence and cinema the art of showing, both whole on their own, don't easily make a good couple. But these film and videomakers have taken up the challenge anyway by responding to the spirit and the letter of the poet, creating an original cinematic writing. Cinema and language meet head on, not unified as in conventional film, but remaining distinct and dancing, stepping on toes, wooing each other with the charms of mouth and eye and mind. You'll see images' own syntax shuffled, blended, chafing and dovetailing with language, you'll hear and read poets' work while seeing and hearing filmmakers' work. It's like having two extra senses!
  • Peter Herwitz, Songs of Degrees: With a Valentine (the 12 February) As To How Much
    Super 8mm, 5min color/sound on cassette (1990)
  • Thad Povey, Under a Broad Gray Sky
    16mm, 5min, color/sound (1995)
  • Rick Hancox, Waterworx
    16mm, 6min, color/sound (1986)
  • Marcus Nascimento, Video Haikai
    video, 8min
  • Nathaniel Dorsky, excerpts from "What Happened to Kerouac?"
    video transfer, 8min


  • Abigail Child, Prefaces
    16mm, 10min, color/sound (1981)
  • Henry Hills, Kino Da!
    16mm, 4min, color/sound (1981)
  • Martha Colburn, What's On
    16mm, 2min, color sound (1997)
  • Jim Flannery, Photoheliograph
    16mm, 12min, color/sound
  • Stan Brakhage, First Hymn to the Night -- Novalis
    16mm 3min color/silent (1994)"To write 'purely visual perception' is to write a meaningless phrase. Obviously. Because every time we want to make words do a real job of transference, every time we want to make them express something other han words, they align themselves in such a way as to cancel each other out. This, no doubt, is what gives life so much charm. Because it is by no means a matter of awareness, but of vision, of simply seeing. Simply! And the only field of vision that occasionally allows one merely to see, that doesn't always insist on being misunderstood, that sometimes allows its followers to ignore everything in it that is not appearance, the inner field."
    Samuel Beckett, 
    Le Monde et le pantalon, [1945]