~ Filmmaker: Valerie LeBlanc ~

Landschop by Valerie LeBlanc & Daniel Dugas

From the Canadian duo of Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas, Landschop is one in a series of videopoems titled Around Osprey. The artists’ words about the overall project:

Around Osprey is a series of short videopoems based on our 2018 residency at the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast Preserve in South Florida. These poems have been derived from our exploration of the lands and waters of the Myakka River, the Manatee River, Sarasota Bay, and Charlotte Harbour. While looking for the crossovers between nature and culture, we were also looking for threads of human histories within protected natural spaces. (source)

Whispered voices combine with cleverly designed on-screen text to convey the single words and short phrases that form the poetic piece of writing. The background of the soundtrack is comprised of subtle sounds of nature, randomly punctuated by sounds of gunshot. The latter are a mysterious aural presence through the video and only connect to the text in the final moments.

I appreciate the gentle, open-ended qualities of this video, consistent with much of the other work from these artists. It’s as though each of their videopoems is just one moment in a long and steady stream of contemplations.

Their daily blog entries for the Around Osprey residency can be found here.

Remnants by Valerie LeBlanc & Daniel Dugas

A few weeks ago I shared a trilogy of videopoems from Canadian film-makers Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas, made during their time as artists in residence at the historic Deering Estate in Florida. This video, Remnants, is another of several made during their time at the Estate.

From a film-making view, I particularly like in Remnants the simple effectiveness of writing the poem on the spine of books. There is as well a quiet, contemplative quality that often arises in videopoems without voice, just text on screen and sound design from natural ambiences. The twin-screen of this film then calls for attention to two panels of adjacent text, the poem on one side and old book titles on the other.

Most if not all of the videopoems I have seen from Valerie and Daniel are author-made films arising from their long-time collaboration as artists. More from their Deering Estate residency are here.

Dream 1, 2 & 3 (video series) by Valerie LeBlanc & Daniel Dugas

A trilogy of videopoems by long-time collaborators Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas in Canada, the Dream series was realised as part of an artist residency at the historic Deering Estate in Miami, USA. From the synopsis for Dream 1:

In September 1925, on board the steamship SS City of Paris, en route back to the United States, James Deering suffered a heart attack and died. After the deaths of both James Deering and his brother Charles, their houses became museums bequeathed for public enjoyment.

In this fictional account of three imagined dreams, Charles Deering addresses the death of his younger brother James.

The synopsis for Dream 2:

Charles awakes from a premonitory dream in which many strangers visit their homes but neither he nor James lives there. The letter is almost a question to his brother about his health.

Each of the videos makes use of a split screen, bringing two different image streams into play with each other, and with repeated visual elements across the trilogy. The layered images are haunting and poetic in conveying the fictional dreams, an interesting concept. I find the mood across all three videos somehow reminiscent of La Jetée by Chris Marker.

Valerie LeBlanc narrates the imagined letters from Charles to his brother.

The Dream 3 synopsis:

Charles has a dream within a dream in which he is overcome by a great sadness. He is relieved that the visions dissipate in his waking reality.

Aside from this Dream trilogy, the artists’ time at The Deering Estate gave rise to a number of other videopoems, photographs, audioworks and installations. All together they make up a larger, overall residency project called Oasis. The artists’ wrote a journal of their experiences and creativity during the residency at the project website.

Missing Parade Notes by Valerie LeBlanc


Canadian artist and videopoet Valerie LeBlanc‘s latest video. Here’s how she describes it at Vimeo:

A summer parade opening the Calgary Stampede celebrations, 2001 is presented in triplicate. The visuals provide a focus for reflection on events that only weeks later marked changed levels of social innocence.

Missing Parade Notes was assembled and edited into a short video documenting highlights of the parade. Slow motion and colour treatment were added to age the footage. The result is reminiscent of archived film footage from an earlier time. The video was then assembled in triplicate as a base to carry the poetry text. Recently composed, the text message appears to have been added using analogue typewriter technology. Overall, the intention is to span the time disconnect and the reaction to past events. The audio component is a mixed cacophony of music and cheering rising up to the spectator.

Downtown (video series) by Valerie LeBlanc

(1) In Your Wildest Dreams



(2) Pastimes



(3) Splitting Image



(4) Watching



(5) Nature



I’ve tended not to feature a whole lot of videos in which the emphasis is more on the video than the poetry, and the text couldn’t stand on its own. But that bias is a little unfair to the avant-garde videopoetry tradition, which has always emphasized the interdependence of the two. Canadian artist and writer Valerie LeBlanc’s Downtown series from 2003 is solidly within this tradition, and each video is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. The common-place thoughts ascribed to urban apartment-dwellers gain depth and pathos by juxtaposition with the unreal context upon which they are superimposed as simple kinetic text. In her very interesting notes on the series, LeBlanc discusses how she played with visual ambiguities and the expectations of viewers, and cites French philosopher Gilles Deleuze as a central influence:

Part of my practice involves using video in ways that are sometimes perceived to be proprietary to film. In my 2003 series Downtown, the images on billboards are literally positioned as ‘the thinking image’ [1] as defined by Gilles Deleuze in Cinema 2: The Time-Image. The images of people, laid out by marketers to sell condominium lifestyle, are juxtaposed with texts that speak thoughts for those future residents. The subjects contemplate existence and the videos end with the revelation that it is the voice of an image that speaks over time, in what is literally ‘a 2-dimensional world.’ In reality, on closer inspection, it becomes obvious that some of the subjects have taken on character weaknesses closely resembling the problems sometimes associated with high-density living. For example, in Splitting Image, the young Asian male on the balcony actually appears to be more in the headspace of committing suicide than ‘Living the Dream.’ When viewing the image even closer, it becomes obvious that this character with the fully developed imagination of the protagonist is less than a full image. He had been constructed from a face and shirt pulled from a marketers’ catalogue, and yet, he has everything he needs to sell inner-city condos. Not many, if any of the GRP’s (Gross Rating Point) passing audience members will probably notice that he has no hands and no lower body. The ‘half-man’ is floating above the balcony wall. And yet, with a quick drive by, he appears complete, the man who ‘owns’ in a desired real estate market.

Read the rest.