~ Nationality: Australia ~

Demolished by Ian Gibbins

None of the images in the video are as they seem in real life. Instead, we imagine what could be if “progress” proceeds at its current rate. What will remain? How will the survivors operate? Where will the ghosts of our history end up?

Vimeo description

Australian videopoet Ian Gibbins needs no introduction here, and his background as a scientist makes his films about the climate and extinction crises especially compelling. In a recent blog post introducing Demolished, he asked,

Is it possible to have a one-word poem?

Very short forms of poetry have a long history. Perhaps the best known are haiku, which in their classic English form consist of only three lines with a total of 17 syllables. But then there are 6-word poems, a popular form of extremely compressed writing. Visual poetry and concrete poetry is often based around a single word, perhaps with its multiple variations.

For me, one of the primary attractions of video art is that I can create visual worlds that do not exist in real life. The roles of juxtaposition, movement, and the tension between familiarity and strangeness in the visual domain act like metaphor and allusion in written poetry. When audio is added, we gain an additional dimension within which ambiguity, shifting mood and rhythmic energy can inhabit.

My video DEMOLISHED was created for a group exhibition curated by Tony Kearney at The Packing Shed, Hart’s Mill, Port Adelaide, South Australia, as part of the 2024 Adelaide Fringe Festival. None of the scenes in the video exist in real life. Every one of them has been composited and, in some cases animated, from multiple images recorded in the immediate area around Hart’s Mill, including some from inside the Packing Shed itself. The soundtrack was created from a single spoken sample of the word “demolished”.

For me, the video incorporates the feeling of a poem in some way. I originally had intended to include much more text, but as the video came together with the soundtrack, it became clear that the visual imagery told the story, following the rhythms of the soundtrack. If you know the area, the scenes look strangely familiar but impossible to pin down, perhaps like images from a dream or a poorly-recalled memory. Hopefully, they act as metaphors for the loss of human and natural history extending back generations, as old work sheds, warehouses, docks and wetlands are demolished in the name of so-called development of the Port Adelaide district.

So is it possible to have a one word poem? Maybe… But I’d like to think it is certainly possible to have a one-word poetry video… DEMOLISHED.

Orion by Maria Vella

Atmospheric and experimental, Orion is by Maria Vella in Victoria, Australia. The soundtrack is abstract, incorporating just a few distorted lines of ‘found audio’ from NASA. The strobing stream of personal images creates the sense of poetry without words.

Maria Vella was born in Qormi, Malta, in 1980 and immigrated with her parents and younger brother to Melbourne in 1983. She is a video poet, poet and visual artist. Her work has appeared in The Best Australian Poems, Overland and elsewhere. (source)

Dave Bonta previously shared another of her films here at Moving Poems. I screened that same film, Broken Words, in a number of international venues as part of the touring project, Poetry + Video.

Cuando Fui Clandestino / When I Was Clandestine by Juan Garrido Salgado

This recent collaboration between Chilean poet Juan Garrido Salgado and Australian filmmaker Ian Gibbins incorporates other texts in the process of evoking quite different places from where the film was shot, which could’ve gone wrong in so many ways, I was astonished by how well this all works—how authentic everything feels. Ian has posted some process notes which are worth sharing in full:

Juan Garrido Salgado immigrated to Australia from Chile in 1990, fleeing the Pinochet regime that burned his poetry, imprisoned him, and tortured him for his political activism. Since then, his poetry has been widely published to acclaim, and includes eight books, anthologies and translations. His readings are renowned for their passion and dedication to social justice. His latest collection, The Dilemma of Writing a Poem, has just been published by Puncher & Wattman.

Some time ago, we decided to make a video of one of his poems. It was a hard choice, but we settled on Cuando Fui Clandestino / When I Was Clandestine from his collection of the same title, published in 2019 by Rochford Press. The poem is strongly autobiographical and refers to time he spent in Moscow as well as living under curfew in Chile.

Making the video was a challenge. It was not possible for me to film in Russia or Chile, and, in any case, the political and social changes have been so great in each country, it was not clear what footage would be appropriate. We could have used archival footage in the public domain, but, in general, I prefer to use my own original footage in my work. Given that Juan has lived in Adelaide for many years now, we decided that I would film sites around the city that reflected the mood of his original experiences, while being clearly set in a contemporary context. All the footage was taken at night at locations I know well. A few scenes have been composited from more than one site. We went back to a key location not far from where Juan lives to film him there after dark with his poetry.

The music is an original composition, written and performed by Juan’s son, Lenin Garrido. After a small amount of editing, the structure of the music ended up being a key element in pulling together the various components of the video.

The language of the poem is complex. Although it is published in Spanish and English, we decided to have the spoken word element only in Spanish. A truly bi-lingual version would have been ideal, but we decided it was not necessary this time.

Part of the complexity of the poem relates to its references to the work of other poets: Nicanor Parra, Pablo Neruda, Vladimir Mayakovski and musician Violetta Parra. In recognition of the use of public walls for propaganda, advertising, street art and protest, excerpts from the poems referred to in Juan’s text appear on dark walls, in different languages, alongside public domain portraits of the authors. These are the poems and their sources (click on the texts for relevant links):

El Premio Nobél
Nicanor Para
: Antipoems – How to Look Better and Feel Great
New Directions 2004

Домой! (Homeward!)
Vladimir Mayakovsky
: Maximum Access
Sensitive Skin Books 2018

Oda al Hombre Sencillo
Pablo Neruda: Odas Elementales
Editorial Losada 1954

The Grains Are Rough Here by Claire Rosslyn Wilson

A poetry film in eight parts, The Grains Are Rough Here is by Australian-born writer, film-maker, researcher and editor, Claire Rosslyn Wilson. Footage and sound were collected in Melbourne, Chiang Mai, Singapore and Barcelona, the latter her current place of residence.

In the video notes she describes the film as “a suite of 8 videopoems”. Indeed, each of the eight parts could stand alone, but I find them cohesive as a single film. The intertwining of personal and political reflection is emotionally affecting. Rhythmic repetitions of words, phrases and lines deepen the sense and impact of the text. The effective editing of images and sounds suggests an experienced film-maker.

Wilson speaks her own poetry in the film, accompanied by subtitles. To some this may seem unnecessary doubling up. But I enjoyed being able to visually read the poetry at will, as well as to hear it, allowing different perspectives on the writing. The 13-minute duration invites an easy shifting of focus across each element of the film.

From the ‘About‘ section of her website:

I take an intercultural and interdisciplinary approach that explores creative ways to look closely at the world around us. This stems from my personal experience working in a number of cultures (Australia, Spain, Thailand, Singapore), which has given me an appreciation for the importance of an open and multifaceted worldview, necessary when adapting to diverse cultural contexts.

Sensurious by Ian Gibbins

The videopoetry of Australian artist and thinker Ian Gibbins is strikingly unique. This version of his 2015 piece Sensurious was just this week uploaded in higher definition and with English and Spanish subtitles. He has previously written about his work with video, poetry and translation for Moving Poems Magazine.

The text in the video first came into being as a response to the art of Judy Morris, written specifically for an exhibition of her Sensurious series. From Ian’s artist statement about this at Rochford Street Review:

Judy and I have collaborated on many projects over the years. Sensurious – drawings to stimulate the sense was her third solo exhibition. It was held at Pike Wines gallery in Clare Valley, South Australia (2014) and at Magpie Springs winery gallery neat McLaren Vale, South Australia, in 2015. I wrote short pieces of text for each of the drawings and they became the basis for poem. The video features the formal Latin names of the plants, the meanings of which inform the text of the poem.

A number of other videos by Ian Gibbins have been featured at Moving Poems here.

Wash/Backwash by Jacqui Malins

Featuring a text that alternates between poetry and essay, Wash/Backwash is an intriguing piece by Australian artist Jacqui Malins. The bio on her website describes her as a “cross-disciplinary artist, whose practice incorporates ceramics, poetry and spoken word, performance, video, drawing and photography”. She was also curator of a videopoetry program for the 2021 Poetic City event in Canberra.

Two voices speak the text in a call and answer manner, one giving the poetry and the other conveying theories about perception and feeling. Malins speaks one part and the other is spoken by Abhishek Gupta. The density of the narration led me to watch the video a few times over for better comprehension.

Dissolving shadow images create the sense of just one single image throughout the video. I find the visual concept to be eloquent and touching, suggesting both the singularity and the continual motion of human experience. The screen is in a portrait ratio that works well in focusing our view on the shadow figure. The visual simplicity provides welcome space for the words to take centre stage.

From the video’s summary at Vimeo:

Waves wash across a shadow. The figure softens, sharpens, nearly disappears, snaps back into focus. Is this how emotion feels?

Up-to-date news on Malins’ work in various media can be found here.

Cultural Submissions by Caroline Reid

Written in a free-associative Australian vernacular and littered with local references, Cultural Submissions is by Caroline Reid in Adelaide. It evokes episodes in places on either side of the continent and the endless drive between the west-east poles of Perth and Melbourne.

For the video, Caroline speaks the prose-poetic text in a downbeat drawl, layered in a call-and-response fashion by sound engineer Jeffrey Zhang. This heightens the sense of thoughts rolling over each other and subjects changing as if melting in mid-sentence. Film-maker Patrick Zoerner brings together a series of slowly dissolving images that provide a poetic visual space for the voice to take centre stage.

Cultural Submissions can be read on the page at Verita La. It is from Siarad, a collection of Caroline’s poetry and prose published by ES-PRESS in 2020. The video was part of an interesting program curated by Jacqui Malens for the 2021 Poetic City event in Canberra.

Moving Poems has previously featured three other videos from Caroline’s writing.

The Long Slow Effect of Gravity by Ian Gibbins

A 2020 poetry film by the Australian multimedia poet, musician and scientist Ian Gibbins, with

Footage taken around Adelaide CBD, Belair, Blackwood, Sturt River, Mount Compass and Middleton, all in South Australia, and Athens, Greece.

The soundtrack is in polyrhythmic 6/4 time and contains audio samples of bird calls, rain and various falling objects recorded in Belair, South Australia.

3D models of shark, roses and dog skeleton obtained and used under license from sketchfab.com. They were animated within Motion 5.

We Are The War by T&DA

A fascinating experiment in AI-generated videopoetry from an artists’ collective in Sydney, written and directed by Tyrone Estephan.

We Are The War | CLIP-Guided Storytelling & Speech Synthesis

At T&DA we have explored leveraging the latest technologies to create ‘We Are The War’, an animated graphic novella poem, where both the images and narration were generated through visual and audio synthesis.

Created using prompts inspired by children’s book illustrations and the lines of our poem, images were generated using Midjourney. The narrator was generated through speech synthesis software that only needed 15 minute sample of talking.

To add parallax and depth to the scenes we used neural Z depth extraction.

Using these tools we tell the story of children’s metaversal shenanigans as realities of recent years bleed into their locked down lives. We can think of this technology almost as if it’s a 10 year old expressing itself, which felt like the perfect means to convey the sentiments of the poem.

Tyrone Estephan – Written & Directed
Sean Simon – Visuals & Post
Josh Kell – Online Editor

To Touch & Taste a Comet by Caroline Reid

Caroline Reid‘s marvelous poetry and performance combines with film-making by Patrick Zoerner in this videopoem, To Touch & Taste a Comet. The poem can be read on the page at Cordite Poetry Review. It is the first in a collection of Caroline’s prose and poetry titled Siarad (a Welsh word meaning to talk, to speak). From a review of the book by Alison Clifton in Stylus Lit:

Reid’s poems and short stories are allegorical in their impact: seemingly mundane events are elevated to the symbolic and the sacred… While Reid’s striking similes and surprising metaphors are a true joy, her observations about the human condition are also brilliant – in turns poignant and pointed… To find novelty in the commonplace, seek the exceptional in the banal, and write thought-provoking observations without resorting to cliché – these are remarkable skills.

Last month we shared another of Caroline’s outstanding collaborative videopoems, murder girl gets wired.

murder girl gets wired by Caroline Reid

murder girl gets wired is written and spoken by award-winning South Australian poet and performer, Caroline Reid. She describes its subject as “hard-edged urban youth culture in late night small city Australia”. The film-maker in the collaboration goes by the artist name featherfurl, and also makes music and gif art.

The eerie suburban images are night-time photographs that are given filmic motion via subtle and unusual visual effects. The soundtrack, engineered by Jeffrey Zhang, is a stand-out feature, with two softly-layered voice tracks accompanying the central reading of the poem.

The inventive use of simple media elements, coupled with the powerful writing, creates outstanding videopoetry in this piece.

murder girl gets wired is the second film we have featured at Moving Poems from Caroline Reid and collaborators. The first was Lost, a finalist in the Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film competition in Ireland in 2019, and part of Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Germany in 2020.

Jux/ta/po/si/tion by Miriam Hechtman


Jux/ta/po/si/tion is an author-made videopoem by Australian performance poet Miriam Hechtman, whose array of projects include founding and directing POETICA, a regular live poetry and music event in Bondi, Sydney.

The poem takes an abecedarian structure to convey minimal but strongly resonant meanings. The effectiveness of these arises from the inventiveness of word combinations. The piece is minimal in film-making elements as well, with layered voice and text on screen giving distinct perspectives on the poetic text.

I see a connection here with the work of well-known Adelaide videopoet Ian Gibbins, especially his Game Over: Grand Final Edition. Subject and expressive tone are unique to each artist, but I find a similarly bold, experimental approach to film-making and to poetry in these videos.

I discovered Jux/ta/po/si/tion on the website for a recent poetry cinema event in Canberra, curated by Jacqui Malens. That program is now on permanent exhibition at the Poetic City website.