Text as material: 10 works inspired by poetry, word and song

Ten artist videos using poetry, text, waiata and spoken word as material and inspiration for moving works. Many of the works seek to span time and distance, Lara Lindsay-Parker's Star Crossed (2017) combining 19th century poetry with cellphone communication; Kahurangiariki Smith working with her mother on both waiata and karaoke; Richard Von Sturmer drawing on the Japanese tradition of 5 line Tanka poetry to create not only sequences of words, but a cine-poem shot in the local neighbourhood.

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1) Lara Lindsay-Parker, Star Crossed (2017)
"The fruits of a “famous love letters” Google search play alongside the isolated motion of a texting hand. In the age of “u up?” I propose a fervent expression of deep love and dependency that spans centuries. On October 13th, 1819, John Keats writes a love letter to Fanny Brawne. 2017 edition. “I cannot exist without you…you have absorbed me…you have ravished me away by a power I cannot resist”. " - Artist Statement

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2) Kahurangiariki Smith, He Tangi Aroha – Mama Don’t Cry (edit) (2019-ongoing)
"Initially informed by long nights at karaoke, and the necessity to learn Mum’s waiata, I explored karaoke text as an educational format. He Tangi Aroha – Mama Don’t Cry has since evolved into an intergenerational collaboration between me and my mama, Aroha Yates-Smith.

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3) Dick Whyte, The Ghost in the Machine (Lumiere Super Cinema) (2010)
An experimental film superimposing seven of Lumiere's first films over top of one another, inspired by principles of haiku poetry (title taken from Arthur Keostler). Part of a series of films by Whyte reinterpreting Lumiere works.

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4) Connor Fitzgerald, CLOSE UR EYES, MAKE A WISH (excerpt) (2020)
"This poem and film responds to my combating feelings of love and mourning between my relationships to gender and my natural surroundings. Feeling grounded and a part of this ecosystem is directly linked to my sense of wellbeing. This work is an articulation of how I, as a nonbinary person, am interconnected with my own time and place." - Artist Statement

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5) Rangituhia Hollis, Across the face of the moon (2019 iteration for Masons Screen)
"Across the Face of the Moon knits together huge arcs of time—time measured in incomprehensible mind-bending things like moons and galaxies and eons and the distance between stars—with observances on a smaller scale: a couple contemplating their journey as parents to their young son." - Thomasin Sleigh

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6) Richard Von Sturmer, Tanka Films (2007)
"One morning, after returning to live in New Zealand in 2004, I walked into the bathroom and found a moth clinging to the handle of my razor. The verse below formed at that moment, and as I had recently bought a digital camcorder in the United States, I filmed the moth as well. 'the rain is continuous, as a moth is sleeping on the stem of my razor I decide to remain unshaved'. This would become the first of 26 Tanka Films, tanka being an unrhymed Japanese verse form of five lines. Although I began with five shots to correspond with the five line form of tanka, it soon became unnecessary to adhere to a five-shot sequence; sometimes the filmed images were so strong that only three shots were needed.'" - Artist Statement

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7) Ruth Watson, The Surface of Things (text only, 1 channel of 3) (2015)
The Surface of Things is a three-channel video work made while the artist was resident at Headlands Centre for the Arts, California, USA in 2015. In this scrolling text, the artist variously describes the accumulated traces on the studio floor left by previous residents; the artefacts of a local military base, now seen as objects of tourist fascination and boredom; and the inefficiency of maps to describe people, animals and activity.

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8) Martin Rumsby, For Dots (2008)
Part One of a document of African American street culture in Chicago. Featuring music and poetry by Dorothy Hilliard, Oba Maya, Dave Braxton, Nathaniel Rowry and others.

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9) Stella Brennan, No Stairway (2006)
Inspired by suffragist Charlotte Perkins-Gillman’s short story, The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), in which an increasingly psychotic invalid entwines herself in the art nouveau extravagances of her sickroom wallpaper. The voice-over is from French poet Henri Michaux’s book The Miserable Miracle (1956), documenting his experiments with mescaline. No Stairway is tremulous and cyclical – the doors of perception never open. The viewer is trapped, surrounded by garish kaleidoscopic pattern.
 

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10) Rachel Shearer, I am an open window (2015)
“Inspired by the poetry of Joanna Margaret Paul, I am an open window contains a stoic duration filmed in lush super 8mm textures. Tonal shifts are layered with text fragments gleaned from two of Paul’s poems provided to the artist. A lens is locked onto a persistent gaze of an open doorway, a cracked window, perhaps referencing Paul’s Barry’s Bay photographic series, where the lush foliage beaming from an open window is shrouded in the darkness of the surrounding interior. The super 8mm film stock is painterly, fragile and heavily textured. The work reinvents the aesthetics and form of small gauge cine-poems.” - Solomon Nagler

For more works on the CIRCUIT website using Literature and Poetry, see here.