Dave Bonta • Native Land

Videorenga: linked verses in which each verse is part image, part text.

Footage via the Prelinger Archives at archive.org: old home movies, authors unknown. Sound: Corsica_S (Tim Kahn), recorded in southeastern Oregon, via freesound.org (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial).

Text, concept, editing etc. by Dave Bonta. Aside from the soundtrack, the videopoem is available for remix and distribution under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 licence. (See the remix by Marie Craven: vimeo.com/117679174 )
Blogged: vianegativa.us/2015/01/native-land/ An excerpt:

Haiku, as we now call it, developed from a tradition of Japanese linked verse (renga), specifically haikai no renga or renku. These were multi-author, collaborative improvisions in which each two adjacent verses could be read as if they were two stanzas of a longer poem. Displaying the Japanese aesthetic preference for asymmetry, verses of 17 mora (sound units akin to syllables) alternate with verses of 14 mora. Native land attempts to do something vaguely similar, stitching together videohaiku of unequal lengths, with lines in intertitles completing a verse (videopoetic unit) begun with the preceding shot. But each line or couplet could also be read as the first part of a verse concluding with the shot that followed it. Realizing that this ambiguous connectivity might easily be lost on a first-time viewer, I decided to make two versions of the sequence, cleverly titled “obverse” and “reverse.”

Native land deviates from Japanese linked verse tradition in two significant ways: it doesn’t have multiple authors, and it’s too thematically unified. The second deviation might be a direct consequence of the first, actually. Had it been made by two or more people, it would be less likely to bear the stamp of a single poet’s didactic concerns. I would argue that it does contain a strong element of multi-authorship, though, inasmuch as I sourced the video footage from six different anonymous home movies in the Prelinger Archives, presumably shot by (at least) six different people.


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