~ Nationality: Norway ~

navn nome name by OTTARAS

Sound poetry and concrete poetry elude most efforts at translation — except for translation into videopoetry, as in this new release from OTTARAS (Ottar Ormstad and Taras Mashtalir) and Alexander Vojjov. I’m sure knowing Norwegian would add layers of meaning but even without that, I found the visualization of names as planetary objects or one-celled organisms intriguing and delightful. Here’s the Vimeo description:

NAVN NOME NAME (2016) is based on Ottar Ormstad’s “telefonkatalogdiktet” (‘the phonebook poem’). It is his third book of concrete poetry, published in Norway by Samlaget (2006). For this language research project, Ormstad read (!) the phonebook of Oslo 2004 and selected names on a poetic basis. In the book, the names are presented visually as concrete poetry. Most of the names are strongly connected to Norwegian and describe phenomena in nature.

NAVN NOME NAME is the second work of a collection of video poems created by the Norwegian-Russian duo OTTARAS (Ottar Ormstad and Taras Mashtalir) in collaboration with Russian video artist Alexander Vojjov. In the video, Ormstad reads names selected by the Russian-American composer Mashtalir. Through this work, Norwegian language turns into international sound poetry. Ormstad’s collection of family names present in Oslo’s phonebook at the time of reading are exposed and read by the author while performing to Mashtalir’s pulsating music. Is everyone connected to each other in the sphere that is shaping before the viewer’s eyes? How do names and language relate to the atmospheric scapes Vojjov creates of numbers, geometric forms and abstract shapes?

NAVN NOME NAME exists in different versions made for screening and live performance. Raising awareness of electronic poetry and sonic ecology, attracting new audience to a potent yet to come genre is the inspiration for this collaboration.

The video is produced in HD 16:9 in color, stereo.
Duration: 06:05 mins
Animation: Alexander Vojjov
Music: Taras Mashtalir
Concrete poetry, voice & production: Ottar Ormstad
© Ottar Ormstad 2016

Bølgeslag / Waves: three poems by Tor Ulven

This may be my favorite Kristian P./Gasspedal animated poetry film yet. It was just released from password protection on Vimeo a week ago after a three-year tour of film festivals. It premiered at the Norwegian publishing house Gyldendal in 2013 on what would have been Tor Ulven’s 60th birthday. Here’s the description from Vimeo (italics mine):

Everything disappears. Recordings of our voices will become archeological remains, and a spinning record yields fossil waves. Waves is based on three poems by Tor Ulven.

Tor Ulven (1953–1995):
Ulven made his debut as a poet in 1977, with the poetry collection Skyggen av urfuglen (Shadows of the Primordial Bird). Today, Ulven’s works enjoy an iconic status, and his poetry and prose have been translated into English, German, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Russian and other languages.

Words & voice by Tor Ulven
Design & animation by Kristian P.
Produced by Audun Lindholm & Harald Fougner

Based on three poems from Ulven’s poetry collection Forsvinningspunkt (Vanishing Point), Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1981.

long rong song by OTTARAS

The Norwegian concrete poet Ottar Ormstad and Russian composer Taras Mashtalir form the duo OTTARAS, currently looking for live performance venues. This video was produced in collaboration with Russian video artist Alexander Vojjov, and “exists in different versions made for screening and live performance,” according the Vimeo description.

Projected on a grid of particles that at times seem ordered, while sometimes chaotic and always in flux, Ormstad’s constructed language poetry is exposed and read by the author while performing to Mashtalirs pulsating music. Is everything connected to one another in the sphere that is shaping before the viewer’s eyes? How does language relate to the atmospheric scapes Vojjov creates of numbers, geometric forms and abstract shapes? LONG RONG SONG (2015) conveys Ormstad’s language research project that is based on AUDITION FOR FENOMENER UTEN BETEGNELSE (Audition for Phenomena without a Name), his second book of concrete poetry (2004). In the video, Ormstad reads through a cycle of 5 poems that present combinations of four letters made of an artifical language system that he has created and which may, or may not result in words commonly used in latin languages. […] Raising awareness of electronic poetry and sonic ecology, attracting new audience to a potent yet to come genre is the inspiration for this collaboration.
The video is produced in HD 16:9 in color, stereo, duration 05:26
Animation: Alexander Vojjov
Music: Taras Mashtalir
Concrete poetry, voice & production: Ottar Ormstad
© Ottar Ormstad 2015

I find it a mesmerizing hybrid of concrete and sound poetry—a great example of how an effective video can make avant-garde poetry approachable.

Concerning Melchior (a chain of things that make me warm) by Hilde Susan Jægtnes

A Poetry Storehouse poem by Norwegian poet Hilde Susan Jægtnes gets the Swoon treatment.

I used her reading to create this soundtrack [SoundCloud link]. For the visual part of the video I wanted a strong contrast between blurry images of light (filmed at an exhibition on the history of light design) and extreme close ups of human skin and hair. Trying to create a mix of sensuality and a weird sensation of fright. Alienated.

Nic S. has also made a video with this text, using her own voice in the soundtrack, but I can see why Swoon chose Jægtnes’ reading: she’s the rare example of a poet who’s also an excellent interpreter of her own work—which is especially impressive considering that English is, I assume, not her first language. She is the translator too, I think: the Poetry Storehouse bio indicates that she’s published a collection of English translations of prose poems drawn from her first two Norwegian collections.

when by Ottar Ormstad

Experimental poetry can sometimes seem excessively cerebral and lacking in emotion, but Norwegian visual poet Ottar Ormstad escapes that trap here with the help of terrific still images and a compelling score. The description from Ormstad’s upload to Vimeo is worth quoting at length:

In the film “when” Ottar Ormstad is transferring his practice as concrete poet to the realm of a programmable networked space, blending his poetry with specially composed modern music and electronic elements. His photographs are presented in combination with words in different languages, most of them presented as “letter-carpets”. Some sentences are from well known songs or films, other letter-combinations are invented by the author.

The film is telling a story about life and death, basically from the standpoint of cars, rotten in a field in Sweden. The narrative is open, and each viewer may experience the film very differently. It is also dependent upon the viewer’s language background, any translation is – intentionally – not given.
This experimental film cannot be translated in a traditional way. The words in different languages are integrated in the poetic expression. Subtitles are irrelevant.

The music and the animation was created in close cooperation with the author.
Music: Hagen & Nilsen from Xploding Plastix
Animation: Ina Pillat
Script, photographs, visual poetry by director & producer: Ottar Ormstad

Pipene / The Pipes by Øyvind Rimbereid

This was the winner of Goethe Institute Film Prize at the 2014 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, where the animator, Kristian Pedersen, also had an exhibition and gave a talk, which I attended. One thing I learned that really impressed me is that the producer of Pedersen’s wonderful series of abstract animations, Gasspedal, does not view them as trailers or promotional tools for its chapbooks but as important publications in their own right — hence the creation of a separate division, Gasspedal Animert. A very forward-thinking publisher!

The poet and reader is Øyvind Rimbereid, who was also in attendance at ZEBRA and gave a reading of this and several other poems from a cycle of poems about the organ, accompanied by the Babylon Theater’s old silent-movie organ. In the video, Nils Henrik Asheim plays on an old pump organ with live electronic effects.

Written for the opening of the Stavanger Concert hall and its custom built organ, The Pipes is an ode to industrial history – the former backbone of the city’s economic and social life.

One of Norway’s most celebrated poets, Øyvind Rimbereid (b. 1966) made his debut in 1993 with the short story collection Det har begynt (It has begun). His poetry collections Herbarium (2008) and Jimmen (2011) both earned nominations for the Nordic Council prize for literature. Rimbereid is the only Norwegian poet to be awarded the Critics’ Prize twice, for Solaris korrigert (2004) and Orgelsjøen (2013).

The Woods by Aina Villanger

Another of Kristian Pedersen’s abstract animations, this time with words and voice by Aina Villanger. (There’s also a version without the subtitles.)

Winner of the Bergen Public Librarys poetry competition.
Produced by Gasspedal for Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek

The Letters by Sigurd Tenningen

Another of Kristian Pedersen’s excellent animations for Gasspedal Animert. The sound effects are nearly are crucial as the images here. In some ways this is closer to a concrete poetry experiment than a kinetic type film.

Norangsdalen by Erlend O. Nødtvedt

A wonderfully abstract animation by Kristian Pedersen of Gasspedal Animert, who say in their Vimeo description:

Norangsdalen is one of Norways most narrow and steep valleys. It is notorious for its frequent avalanches and landslides. In 1912, an enormous landslide dammed the valley river, causing it to flood and submerge a farm and a small forest. This is today known as the lake Lyngstøylsvatnet – a popular expedition spot for divers.

According to the Norwegian Wikipedia and Google Translate,

Erlend O. Nødtvedt (b. 1984) is a Norwegian poet from Fyllingsdalen and the winner of the Youth Poetry Prize in 2008. He now lives in the city of Bergen, where he studies at the University of Bergen. Nødtvedt previously attended the Skrivekunstakademiet (Writing Academy) and is on the editorial board of the journal Vagant.

Viva Zombatista by Simen Hagerup

Norwegian writer Simen Hagerup‘s poem is brought to life by Kristian Pedersen of Gasspedal Animert. (You might have to expand it to full-screen to read the English subtitles.)

June (Juni) by Dag T. Straumsvåg

Robert Hedin translated the poem from Norwegian, and Jay Orff made the video for Motionpoems. See Willow Springs Literary Magazine for the text in both languages and Straumsvåg’s discussion of its origins.

MotionPoems is currently holding a fundraiser to support its video artists.

MOTIONPOEMS was co-founded in 2008 by Todd Boss (poet) and Angella Kassube (artist, animator, artistic director, and producer). Our roles are primarily curatorial. Since 2008, we’ve paired poets with video teams to develop nearly two dozen one-minute films from poems by Robert Bly, Jane Hirshfield, Marvin Bell, Freya Manfred, David Mason, and others. Over 30 artists have been involved in just the past two years alone.


BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP! We want to start paying a SMALL STIPEND to our technical and video artists. Many of them are putting more than 100 hours into these projects, outside of the 40-hour work week! We want to reward them for their passion, their creativity, and their willingness to take an artistic risk. Our video artists are our greatest asset, a key to our growing success. We’d like to show them that our community loves and supports their extensive investment in MOTIONPOEMS.

The Parentage of the Dix Pear by Ren Powell

Poem and animation by Ren Powell

For a higher quality version, see AnimaPoetics.