~ FACT ~

News roundup: Text(e) Image Beat exhibition, “Send and Receive” videos, Facebook video embedding and more

Text(e) Image Beat banner

The videopoetry exhibition Text(e) Image Beat, curated by Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel H. Dugas, is now showing at the Galerie Sans Nom in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. It runs through May 1.

With: Heid E. Erdrich + R. Vincent Moniz, Jr + Jonathan Thunder; Hannah Black; Matt Mullins; Martha Cooley; John D. Scott; Tom Konyves; Swoon (AKA Marc Neys) + Howie Good; Michel Félix Lemieux; Kevin Barrington + Bruce Ryder; Maryse Arseneault; Fernando Lazzari; Matthew Hayes + Sasha Patterson + Lee Rosevere.


The call for Text(e) / Image / Beat did not specify particular themes. Through the necessity of paring down the choices and assembling a flow of works that complemented and gave space to each other, we became aware of recurrent elements. In spite of the fact that the videos originate from many distinct locations, ideas of awaiting / finding miracles and mysteries of living, are frequent. Each work exhibits innovation and imagination, calling upon a wide range of skills to layer meaning. Slam poetry, rants, softly spoken words, hand written notes, and remixes are all used to articulate.

Click through to read the rest of the detailed and annotated curators’ commentary.


I discovered this week that videos of presentations from the “Send and Receive – Poetry, Film and Technology in the 21st Century” conference at FACT in Liverpool have been posted to the web at artplayer.tv. The videos are embeddable, but with code that will probably not show up in feeds or email, so I will just link to the presentations here. Check out presentations by: Suzie Hanna; Zata Kitowski; Marco Bertamini; Deryn Rees-Jones; Jason Nelson; George Szirtes; Judith Palmer; and Roger McKinley (the host). They’re all worth your time, but I found Rees-Jones’ talk to be especially thought-provoking. (See also the earlier report at Moving Poems Magazine: “Conference on poetry, film and technology at FACT: three views.”)


News emerged this week from Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, that Facebook videos will soon be embeddable. Venturebeat reports.

A lot of poetry videos, especially of the more rough-and-ready sort (e.g. self-recorded recitations), are only uploaded to Facebook, so it will be helpful to have the freedom to share them on sites like this one. But Facebook launching a proper video hosting platform isn’t necessarily something I welcome, given the corporation’s poor track record with privacy and its ambition to swallow up the independent web, which Facebook succeeds in reproducing about as well as the Mall of America reproduces an agora.


More details are emerging about Media Poetry Studio, the multimedia poetry summer camp for girls in Silicon Valley. The website now lists the time and location (July 20-31 at Edwin Markham House in San Jose’s History Park at Kelley Park, home of Poetry Center San Jose). And a March 27 article in the San Jose State University newspaper Spartan Daily interviews camp organizers Erica Goss and David Perez:

In terms of tuition, Goss said the program is “pretty reasonable,” costing $799 for two weeks.

The three poet laureates started planning the camp last spring.

“We had to secure funding, we had to write grants, we had to come up with curriculum—which we’re still working on—we had to find a place to do it and a fiscal sponsor since we’re not a nonprofit,” Goss said. “There’s lots of work and we’ll be doing it right up until the day it starts.”

Goss said they want to be able to give each student individualized attention so there is room for about 20 young women.

The Indiegogo campaign is now 62% funded, with $3,075 raised toward a $5,000 goal.


And finally, speaking of Erica Goss, she has an essay in The Pedestal Magazine about her experience at the 7th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival last October.

Typemotion exhibition opens in Taiwan

Typemotion Taiwan exhibition poster

The Typemotion exhibition most recently in Liverpool, and before that in Karlsruhe and Vilnius, has now moved to Taiwan. TYPEMOTION: Type as Image in Motion opened today at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and will run through 7 June. As before, the exhibition includes examples of concrete poetry and sound poetry as well as a generous selection of poetry clips. But it sounds as if this incarnation will have a distinctly Taiwanese cast:

The exhibition TYPEMOTION presents 159 outstanding examples of Schriftfilme//Typemotion Films from more than sixteen countries, including twelve works of art by Taiwanese artist, dating from 1897 to the present. The exhibition focuses on artistic films, videos, and new media art works, but also includes feature films, title sequences, commercials, music videos and works from the computer demo scene. It is the very first time to introduce a grand international exhibition which focuese on writing and dynamic images in Taiwan. To highlight the particularity and artistry of Chinese characters and the mature development of new media and filmic art in Taiwan, twelve Taiwanese works are brought into the curitorial context, juxtaposed to reflect the contrasts between Schriftfilme//Typemotion Films in oriental and occidental cultures. This also features the main characteristiscs of TYPEMOTION. Type as Image in Motion exhibition in Taiwan.

The exhibition TYPEMOTION presents over 150 outstanding examples of Schriftfilme//Typemotion Films from more than fifteen countries, dating from 1897 to the present. The exhibition focuses on artistic films, videos, and new media art works, but also includes feature films, title sequences, commercials, music videos and works from the computer demo scene.

We define Schriftfilme//Typemotion Films as analog or digital films or film sequences in which mainly animation, graphic design, or music open up possible uses of type far beyond conventional ways of communicating with type. Referring to those sites and situations where we encounter type in motion, the exhibition examines the multiple possibilities for the presentation, perception and ways of communicating with type.

Read the rest.

Conference on poetry, film and technology at FACT: three views

ShedmanI was happy to see a comprehensive, 17-page report [PDF] on the Feb 5 Send and Receive conference about “Poetry, Film and Technology in the 21st Century” at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) from the poet John Davies, A.K.A. Shedman. His highly literate and personal take on the conference gives one a good sense of the sorts of issues under discussion and the often conflicting opinions of the participants. Davies also did his own research on poetry film to flesh out the article, which he titled “Send and Receive: misaligned model or magnificent mix?” It concludes with a brief description of each film shown. Check it out.

Davies includes his reactions to two presentations that are also online. Zata Kitowski has posted her talk [PDF] on the semiotics of poetry film at the PoetryFilm website. And while it doesn’t relate to poetry film per se, George Szirtes’ presentation on how he uses Twitter and Facebook to draft poems is nevertheless very interesting, and may be read on his blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).

Szirtes also shared some informal reactions to the conference, including the poetry films, in a post on Facebook that’s fully public (i.e., you don’t have to be a Facebook friend of a friend, or even a logged-in user, to read it). Although his assessment of the films was a bit less critical than Davies’, they agreed on which was the stand-out: Dream Poem by Danny Caswell Dann Casswell. “The Dream Poem won it for me, because the idea of the poem was the idea of the film—the one was the other,” Szirtes writes. And Davies called it “superb – witty, clever but thoughtful animation that played with the media. A true poetry film with the right mix and balance.” Unfortunately, I can’t find any trace of this film on the web. Hopefully that will change at some point. It’s available to view on the PoetryFilm site.

News round-up: FACT symposium, Tang Dynasty poetry films and more

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), which describes itself as “the UK’s leading media arts centre, based in Liverpool,” will be hosting a day-long symposium on February 5: Send and Receive – Poetry, Film and Technology in the 21st Century. I’m not sure why it’s scheduled for a weekday rather than the weekend, but it certainly sounds interesting. The topic is somewhat reminiscent of the colloquium discussion at the most recent ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin. Hopefully they will avoid some of the pitfalls we ran into there by defining their terms (such as “platform”) a bit more clearly.

FACT, in association with the University of Liverpool, PoetryFilm and The Poetry Society, is pleased to invite you to imagine the future of poetry at our symposium Send & Receive: Poetry, Film & Technology in the 21st Century. With presentations from artists, scientists and thought leaders, the day examines innovative platforms involved in contemporary poetic practices.

How has the digital age changed the way in which poetry is written, performed, communicated and received? Further exploring themes demonstrated in Torque Symposium: An act of Reading, the day will focus on the prevalent difficulties, dialogues and collaborative possibilities that new technological avenues have revealed in the world of poetry.

The symposium will include three distinct discussion areas, with audiences invited to join facilitated discussions after each segment. Confirmed speakers include George Szirtes (poet and translator), Deryn Rees Jones (poet and director of Centre for New and International Writing), Zata Kitowski (Director PoetryFilm), Marco Bertamini and Georg Meyer (Visual Perception Labs UoL), Suzie Hanna (animator) and Jason Nelson (hypermedia poet and artist, Australia).

More information TBA soon.


A news story from October, recently posted to the ZEBRA Facebook group by Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel, also caught my attention this week, about a very ambitious plan by CCTV and the China Central Newreels Corporation to make 108 short films based on Tang Dynasty poems. I can’t embed the English-language newscast video here; click through for that, because it includes brief scenes from a couple of the films. Here’s a bit of the transcript:

“I think film communicates Chinese traditional culture in a very powerful and vivid way. I think it will really help young people appreciate the beauty of Chinese poetry,” said President of Beijing Film Academy Zhang Huijun.

The production team carefully selected 108 poems to be adapted into short films. It explores the works through story-telling and recreating the life of the time. Each film is about 15 minutes long and involves top Chinese actors and directors.

“We selected the best poems. We also selected them based on whether it is easy to make them into a story. That is vital for the short film,” said deputy director of China Central Television Gao Feng.

The initiative aims to promote China’s rich heritage in literature, especially among the younger generation. 70 of the total 108 short films have already been completed, with the rest scheduled to be finished before the end of this year.

The organizers have also invited 108 young singers to perform the theme songs for the films. They are also planning to produce picture-story books based on the poems. The goal is to eventually promote the entire collection of poems from the Tang dynasty.

By “the entire collection,” I suppose they are are referring to the famous and ubiquitous anthology of 300 Tang poems, though that would of course involve also making films out of short lyrical poems lacking in strong narrative elements.

I must say the emphasis on story-telling, popular appeal, and “recreating the life of the time” worries me. I don’t want to pass judgement before seeing any of the films, but experience with big-budget poetry films made elsewhere makes me fear that these films will add little or nothing to the poems and risk achieving the opposite of the project’s stated goal: rather than making poetry more appealing, they will communicate the message that it needs to be sexed up and turned into glossy period drama in order to hold anyone’s attention.

I hope I’m wrong, and that these films do challenge audiences and help translate ancient poems into a new idiom. Because Classical Chinese texts do in fact need to be translated in some way in order to be comprehensible to a speaker of a modern Chinese language such as Mandarin. It’s easy to see how film could assist in that regard, because the Chinese characters are a strong bridge to the ancient language. Calligraphy or type animations similar to what Nissmah Roshdy did with classical Arabic in The Dice Player could help bring the texts across without resorting to actual translation into Mandarin, Cantonese, etc. Alternatively or in addition, subtitling into modern languages could be used with the original language in the voiceover. Traditional poetry recitation, a stylized and beautiful art, could be incorporated into the soundtracks.

As for the imagery, I do think it’s a mistake to leave out all contemporary references, which might well serve as further bridges, adding depth and nuance. One element of Classical Chinese poetry that’s in danger of being lost even to modern Chinese intellectuals is their wealth of allusions to older poems and other texts — the vast libraries that were committed to memory under the Confucian educational system. I wonder if it might not be possible to somehow work a few of those allusions in through film collage techniques? At the very least, filmmakers could strive for a roughly equivalent level of allusive depth by incorporating references to well-known movies, pop songs and the like. I’m simply worried that too conservative an approach risks dishonoring the spirit of the texts. It would be as if Tang Dynasty poets composed only gushi and never experimented with the then-daring jintishi. If they’d been that allergic to innovation, we wouldn’t still be reading their poems today.


The January issue of Poetry brings news of a poetry film still in production, an English-language documentary tentatively titled Las Chavas focusing on girls on a Honduran orphanage who are learning to write poetry in English and Spanish, with the aid of an American Episcopal priest and the poet Richard Blanco. A brief essay is followed by a selection of the girls’ poems. Check it out. Honduras has always punched well above its weight where poetry is concerned, so I’ll be looking forward to the film.


The Athens-based collective + the Institute [for Experimental Arts], sponsors of the annual International Film Poetry Festival, have launched a new website to replace their old Blogspot site. It’s certainly easier to navigate, not to mention better looking. The Festivals link in the header takes one to a gallery-style archive of posts about the poetry film festival.

Type Motion exhibition opens in Liverpool

“FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) is the UK’s leading media arts centre, based in Liverpool,” according to their website. A new exhibition should be of particular interest to fans of videopoetry and poetry film.

This November, FACT is pleased to present the UK premiere of Type Motion, an exhibition featuring over 200 outstanding examples of text and typography being used alongside the moving image. The exhibition celebrates the creative possibilities of opening up uses of text far beyond print, and seeks to showcase not only the importance of writing, but how bringing it to life with movement is an artform in itself.

Kinetic text has emerged as an important sub-genre of poetry animation in recent years, spawning some of the most popular poetry videos on the Anglophone web. This exhibition sounds as if it might really help contextualize that. It’s on from November 13 through February 8, 2015.

UPDATE (Nov. 14): See Grafik magazine for a short selection of poetry films from the exhibition. I like their thumbnail history:

The avant-garde filmmakers of the early twentieth century were interested in liberating the then-new medium from those other media that were already considered art prior to their incorporation into film — theatre and literature, language and writing. Today, however, the conceptual integration and the creative visualisation of what had once been (ideologically) rejected as ‘un-filmic’ has become a growing trend. Artists now strive to interpret literary works in animated poetry-clips, transform literary idioms into filmic language and draw attention to the form of writing to visualise the content it conveys.

(Hat-tip: ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival group on Facebook)