Last week I had the opportunity to visit Tampere, Finland. The Annikki Poetry Festival had invited me to give a workshop on videopoetry (as well as do a short live reading). The festival asked J.P. Sipilä to select a collection of videopoetry to showcase, and he suggested a workshop by Swoon.
Invitations like these are hard to decline and I want to say thanks to J.P. and to Simo Ollila for getting me there.
The objective beforehand was to create a few brand-new videopoems in one day. First I showed some examples of videopoetry and talked about the genre a bit—not too long, though. Doing it is the best way to learn in my opinion.
Experimenting is fun; I showed eight small, one-minute films (animation, film, archive, abstract…) in a loop, asking every participant to write one line (sentence, word, etc.) inspired by each minute of film. So everyone had an eight-line ‘poem’. I made them all pick out one of the minute-long films and let them read their lines aloud during that film. The others could observe, look and listen. It’s a fun exercise to create something ‘right there, right now’. Words suddenly fit a certain shot (though not written for that image). The participants get to experience the importance of timing, the power of coincidence, and, hopefully, the fun of playing with words and images.
After that, four groups were formed to work on projects of their own, making sure each group had someone familiar with film and/or video and someone willing to write. I kicked them out of the classroom with two tasks: go out, film, write, have fun… and come back with two minutes of film and a short poem/text to go with that.
Once they were back they started to combine and collect all the material. Choices were made about which visuals to use, while others started to write (inspired by those choices and the things they saw outside). Music and readings were recorded. Each project was scripted out for me to edit.
The room was buzzing. It’s a joy to experience that.
At night in my hotel room, I edited three of the four videos, following the instructions and scripts the groups had provided me with. The last one was edited by the group at their school/home.
I must say I am very pleased with how it all worked out. Enjoy!
Read a longer account of the whole festival at my blog.