Filmpoem 34/ The Shipwright’s Love Song
I spent some time with Jo on her narrow boat, Tinker, and recorded Tinker’s sounds, alongside her moving through the water. This is a male voiced poem, so I was persuaded to read it. I shot it last month on Kodak Ektachrome Super8, which is now so rare as to be prohibitively expensive. This will be the last filmpoem for a little while as Luca, Chris and I concentrate on partnering Felix Poetry Festival for next year’s Filmpoem Festival, alongside working with Absent Voices in Greenock and delivering Filmpoem Children’s Workshops in schools throughout the land. Busy times for Filmpoem!
This film was made with the support of the Poetry Society, the Canal & River Trust and Arts Council England.
The Watchers No.1-5, 2014, Five channel digital video w/ audio, Installation View ‘Virgin With a Memory’, Cornerhouse, Manchester Courtesy of Cornerhouse, Manchester
Sophia Al Maria is an artist, writer and filmmaker. She studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo, and aural and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. For the past few years, she has been carrying out research around the concept of Gulf Futurism. Her primary interests are around the isolation of individuals via technology and reactionary Islam, the corrosive elements of consumerism and industry, and the erasure of history and the blinding approach of a future no one is ready for. She explores these ideas with certain guidebooks and ideas including, but not limited to, Zizek’s The Desert of the Unreal, As-Sufi’s Islamic Book of the Dead, as well as imagery from Islamic eschatology, post humanism and the global mythos of Science Fiction.
Her work has been exhibited in various institutional shows around the world, including Biennale of Moving Images, Miami, USA (2017); Axis Mundi, High Line Art, New York, USA (2017); No to the Invasion: Breakdowns and Side Effect, CCS Bard Gallery, NY, USA (2017); Mondialite, Villa Empain Boghossian Foundation, Brussels, Belgium (2017); The New Normal, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing China (2017); Seeds of Time, Shanghai Project, Shanghai, China (2017); Transmissions from the Etherspace, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain (2017); Paratoxic Paradoxes, Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece (2017); Eternal Youth, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA (2017); Black Friday, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, USA (2016); Repetition, Villa Empain, Boghossian Foundation, Brussels, Belgium (2016); Imitation of Life at HOME, Manchester (2016); In Search of Lost Time, The Brunei Gallery, London (2016); 89plus: Filter Bubble, LUMA Westbau, Zurich, Switzerland (2015); 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience, New Museum, New York, NY, USA (2015); Common Grounds, Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany (2015); Extinctions Marathon: Visions of the Future, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2014); Virgin with a memory, Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK (2014); Do It, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, UK (2013); The 9th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2012); For your Eyes Only, St. Paul Street Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (2012); Dowse Museum, Wellington, New Zealand (2012); Genre Specific Xperience, New Museum, New York, NY, USA (2011); Bendari & the Bunduqia, Waqif Art Centre, Doha, Qatar (2007) and We Few: A Comic Palindrome, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, Egypt (2005). Her writing has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Five Dials, Triple Canopy, and Bidoun. In 2007, she published her first autobiographical novel, The Girl Who Fell to Earth (Harper Collins Perennial).She was invited to participate in the 2016 Biennial of Moving Images in Geneva, Switzerland. The artist has also participated in the Inhabitation residency at Villa Empain, Boghossian Foundation, Brussels (2016).
Sophia is the author of Virgin With A Memory and The Girl Who Fell To Earth and has also guest edited an issue of the experimental art-writing journal The Happy Hypocrite, entitled Fresh Hell.
The artist currently lives and works in London, UK.
Between Distant Bodies, 2013, Video Installation on 2 cuboglass TVs, Installation view at Frieze 2013
The Three Gorges
The Three Gorges of the Yangzi River are one of China’s most celebrated natural wonders. The area attracts thousands of tourists each year who come on ships to gaze at bizarre rock formations, spot poems that have been carved into cliff walls and learn about China’s ancient history. This area is thought to be the cradle of Chinese culture. Its original appearance has been altered – or “edited” – in recent years through the construction of a dam that has increased the flow of the river. Besides producing an enormous amount of electric energy this intrusion into nature’s creation improves ship navigation on the main river and makes smaller tributaries passable for the first time. Despite the inundation of cultural heritage sites and of traditional villages and towns – forcing millions of people to relocate – tourism agencies have predicted an increase in tourist numbers. We, as humans, alter our landscapes so that they better fit our purposes and our liking. This raises questions about our understanding of the natural world in centuries and millenniums to come. Will we reconsider and try to preserve it in its original form, will we change it so it better serves our causes, or will it vanish altogether, as a result of our growing needs for space and resources, to become a memory conveyed solely in a virtual world, where it can be edited as we please, to be glorified or mocked in an exaggerated super-nature.
My video installation takes a playful view at these future perspectives, while at the same time provoking thought about our self-righteousness to rule over our planet, use, exploit and adapt the natural world to satisfy the outrageous needs we have acquired to secure our extravagant lifestyles.
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.