~ kinetic text ~

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)

Marc Neys in front of the camera: The Swoon interviews

I visited Marc Neys this past July mostly for a social visit. We’d really hit it off the year before at the Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar, Scotland. Also, I’m a big fan of strange beers and Medieval history, and Belgium has plenty of both. (See my photo essay at Via Negativa, “Embodied Belgium.”)

But I certainly didn’t want to let the week go by without filming the filmmaker and getting Marc to talk about how he makes his videopoems. After all, he’s one of the most productive poetry filmmakers in the world right now; his work as Swoon is inescapable at international poetry film festivals, not to mention at Moving Poems.

Fortunately, Marc was game. I originally thought I would make a single, twenty-minute video — I’d shoot a couple hours’ worth of footage, then edit and condense the hell out of it. The problem is that Marc really had a lot of interesting things to say, and what I’ve ended up with instead is a 42-minute documentary split into four, semi-independent sections. These can be watched in any order, I think. I’ve put them all into an album on Vimeo for easy linking and sharing.

I’ve also added closed captioning to each of the four videos, as I do with all Moving Poems productions these days, to make them as accessible as possible — but also to facilitate translating. If anyone would like to translate the videos into other languages, please get in touch. Vimeo will host and serve as many subtitle files as we want to upload.

Swoon on Sound

Marc explains how he creates the soundscapes he uses in his videopoems and other projects, despite not being a musician. He then takes us up into the bell tower of the cathedral in Mechelen, Belgium, famed for its massive carillon.

Swoon at Home

Where the handle Swoon comes from, and why Marc’s home and city double as a film set for many of his videopoems.

Swoon’s Secrets to Filming No-Budget Videopoems

If you only have time to watch one of these, watch this one. Marc lays out his basic DIY approach to making art, talking about the usefulness of water footage and other home-made filter effects, filming to music, cheap editing software, and more.

Swoon on finding a new angle in videopoetry composition

Marc talks about a new direction he’s recently taken: composing videopoems with the poem in text on the screen rather than in the soundtrack. Along the way, he talks about the influence of theater and classic film, and why he never follows scripts and works mostly by instinct.