poetry video: on the genesis of the alchemy
It's this last thing about cross-informance that gives us power to end undue polemics that earlier poets once exploited, and that some regressive thinkers still do. We were once held hostage to this arbitrary notion of "Page vs. Stage," meaning that poetry is typically written for one form of delivery or the other. But in cinematic poetry (and certainly in online poetry works, too), the Page is the Stage.
Our page can convey speech, text, music, and motion. Our page can convey physical phenomena that text alone does not. The camera captures poetry and presents it to a viewer wherever they jack into our signal. What is written, what is spoken, what is seen... the aural ambience of a room, the accent in a voice, the quality of light on a face... all this is valid raw material for poetry video. So while we use media to configure and distribute these experiences as poetry, we may also un-mediate the poem with the same technology, allowing the poet/poetry to speak for himself/itself from wherever we find him/it. And that is liberation for the art of poetry, not only for the creators but for the viewers. When we engage this, we instinctively locate ourselves at a point past the Page vs. Stage debate, a place where we may embark on a new literacy that addresses text with image and sound.
Back in 1992, Holman confided in me about a polemic of his own. Whenever he had the public's ear, he stated that there was an inherent tension between film and poetry that made poetry video a very difficult form to create. I believe he said this in order to portray the image and the text in a kind of conflict, and so create something that the public could wrap their heads around. Few things get attention better than a good conflict, or at least that was the idea.
But I'm not so sure that Holman believed in the conflict himself when he said that, because he also told me that film and poetry were perfect complementary ingredients for great art. In any case, Holman's polemic of 1992 is something we can no longer use. You'll see why in today's program, because the alchemy of text and image has elevated much in the intervening years. We no longer see chance collisions in order to determine coarse effects. Instead, we'll see that the difficulty is not from merging image and text, but from the abundant choices in that merging process. Video and filmmaking have changed greatly, as cinema has become more digital and flexible. It has certainly become more arbitrary. Because so much of what we'll see today is so new, the whole Illume show is an experiment.
And that means you are key. We invite you to join us in conversation after we screen the videos. Don't just sit there. Talk back, because we'll hear you. Critique. Speculate. Be part of the immediate and ongoing dialogue between image and text. Because as the viewer, your mind is the stage where our alchemy converges. Tell us what's going on in there, please?
And this new literacy we're thinking of? We're only just starting with it.
Let's spin the discs and watch!