on starting out in poetry video:
... hybrid arts and partnerships: the non-essentialist nature of poetry video...
One would be to build liaisons with other progressive media arts organizations, and invite them to consider poetry video as a vehicle for their projects. But since you are already empowered in media, that might be redundant. The other approach is to invite similarly-minded literary organizations to collaborate with you as the writers. From there, I'd leave it open to negotiation on a project-by-project basis as to who would actually represent the poetry on screen, whether that be an actor, the given poet, a voiceover, or the essential text. (This dialogue alone can instigate quite an active and creative debate.)
Here in Chicago, we have two organizations, both involved with youth arts programs, that would be candidates for your kind of projects... if only they resided in the Southwest. Video Machete teaches media skills to kids, while Young Chicago Authors (YCA) does the same but for writing. In December, I was a guest artist for a poetry video workshop at YCA, so they seem to be taking a more active interest in new media, too, even though they lack the means to do much more than surf the web and view VHS tapes.
However, your case seems more individual than institutional, Ryn, because you seem to be saying that your collective's interests are drifting away from documentary toward, as you call it, narrative. That's ironic to me. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I undertook poetry video (in part) as a reaction against the preponderance of documentary video that I perceived as suffocating the creativity in contemporary video art. So many people talking... so many facts and opinions... so little inspiration. Video art had gone dead from documentary, and a lack of visual thinking. Those artists who once ravished the eye with generative systems and video synthesis had largely packed up their work for tenured university positions, leaving the landscape populated mostly by indie field production crews... 3/4" PortaPaks, mics, and the men who carried them. There were some inspired exceptions among such production ensembles... TVTV particularly comes to mind for its guerilla media approach, and they were an inspiration. But they had done the bulk of their work by the early 1970s.
Back in the day, narrative was often more opinion than fact, and narrative was so often blurred with documentary that the two were often undistinguished in contemporary criticism and creative output. As it was, both felt like a cure for insomnia.
... distinguishing poetry video as a genre apart from mainstream narrative...
Because I was just a little marginalized at one time, and my peers and I were the only people willing to teach us (invent? define?) what poetry video was supposed to be, I consider poetry video to be a distinct genre. Some critics may categorize it under the umbrella term "narrative," but it certainly steps out from under that term and achieve things that narratives, in the main, do not. This consideration is proper, in as much as we do not qualify all poetry as narrative when we're just talking about the text. We do not consider audio art as a narrative, and yet it can be perfectly at home as the soundtrack for a poetry video. Image processing and other video imaging and editing techniques that depart from verité are also common in poetry video. So no matter the channel where you approach the genre, whether it is text, sound, or image, there can be something in it that functions outside the common definitions of narrative.
So, prepare for some possible departures from your typical thinking as a video producer. This ride will be intense.
The discussion continues between Ryn Shane Armstrong and Kurt Heintz.
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