I entered a mysterious world last week. This strange and mysterious land—filled with dancing words, songs, and poets—finds its footing in the world of video. Videopoems are by no means new, but they are certainly new to me—they are the horizon. I watched several, attempting to understand and immerse myself inside mystery of the jumping and moving juxtaposing of image, sound, and text. I found these snippets of video stories posted on YouTube, listed on poetry sites, and embedded in little corners of the internet. I even found several passed around as “must” sees on Facebook. Videopoems have many forms, as many forms as people have imaginations. Some run to the absurd; I believe I didn’t give the absurd their artistic fair-minded due. My giggles ran over the words and images; I lost the intricacies of layered sounds, pictures and lyrics and became a third grader finding humor and silliness. But maybe all is not lost; maybe giggling is an emotion that holds real value in this world. There aren’t enough gigglers. Maybe I succeeded after all, or perhaps this particular artistic expression, like most others, does not need ever fan in their fan club. I did find many amusing videopoems, and some interesting from an advertising standpoint, because this is what they appeared to be—a selling point. They were a loosely veiled billboard promoting a new book or some other agenda of the poet. One videopoem, with the poet’s lulling almost brainwashing tones springing from cartoonish representations of the words he spoke, captured my attention briefly, only briefly. His poem caught me for the same reason flashing lights and harmonious child-like songs quickly have me turn and look, they appeal to my sense of the easy. However, I believe that as artists we don’t aspire to hear that we appeal because we are easy. As a matter of fact, I am not sure anyone wants to appeal because they are deemed “easy.” I don’t want to give the wrong impression where videopoems are concerned, there were a few that worked beautiful and exceeded in forming an image that I won’t simply forget. For whatever reason these videopoems added just the right amount of the three elements required (images, sound and text) to realize art.
When I set out on the journey of creating my own video poem, I flopped (I should note here that am still in the midst of the flop. It really is more of a flopping about continuously and a bit of blaming the computer for its lack of miracle work). I didn’t know where to begin. I imagined some ethereal image, a pinnacle of fluidity with moving words and lulling sounds, but what I found was anything but inspiration. When my search for poetic imagery began, I saw a field of grass in the late afternoon sun with tiny birds sitting on the ends of the stalks. I thought, “How beautiful. How poetic,” yet the images felt too whimsical and overly done. Is it possible the poetic is now the trite, that nature is too beautiful? I then decided I would film tires moving as I drove on the H-1 freeway; it would be a form of imagistic movement to climax my poem about leaving. However finding a videographer was no easy undertaking. Everyone looked at me like it was a ridiculous idea to drive on the H-1 under normal conditions of necessity, and yet I was asking for them to volunteer to get stuck in the endlessly slow moving cars to film tires moving? And I wanted it filmed in black and white? Was I crazy? That idea didn’t work. I was however able to film electrical wires against the sky as I drove. Let’s hope I find something to salvage in that too blue sky.
How about lions, Grecian urns, and Greek statues of the male and female form, I thought. I knew just the place. It is along Kahala Avenue where statues live in the yard of an abandoned blue-roofed mansion. My plan formed. My children would jump over the fence and run through the yard filming the strange land filled with marble lions and marble naked women and men. We went at sunset, the best time of day of semi-prohibited activity. There were a few late afternoon beachgoers, a several people strolling small and large dogs, one lonely looking man (probably newly divorced) playing with his daughter, and one really lovely orange sunset against a very lovely moving body of water. We easily found a place in the fence that called for jumping over jumped to enter the yard. My youngest pulled herself up and over the fence, my other daughter stood and looked into the yard. “I am not doing it,” she said. I didn’t blame her; I didn’t want to get caught running through marble statues. We stood staring at the lions, and there was a little back and forth between my daughters, the “you do it, dummy,” kind of talk, and then we left defeated. I filmed a few shots from our position of underprivileged on the other side of the fence. They are sad, sad lions from that point of view.
After I uploaded my shaky videography attempts onto my computer, I had to find a way to make them beautiful. I came upon a free software program VideoPad Video Editor Professional and downloaded it. There are people in the world who press every button before reading directions; I freely admit that I am one of those people. I pressed and dragged, and clipped, and cut, and zoomed, and black and whitened it all, and undid it all, and began again, and then I pressed the help button and watched a brief tutorial. It helped, maybe. My videopoem is still in the processing of forming. It is weak, can’t walk yet alone run, it has no inspiration, it is rather sad. It is like those lions.