Either by way of shooting practically or by way of greenscreen compositing, the typewriter and/or hand writing on a page will be put into the context of an environment. The writing my compliment or contrast the environment and the audio.
In this segment, Nichol introduces himself in an audio recording. He continues to describe how he likes to begin his readings with some sound poetry – that this is the way in which he gets into his own breathing and body. This segment is the opening segment for the film. Text on screent follows his voice to the word. The segment will introduce Nichol’s “I”, his voice and the relationship between his voice to text on screen.
This is a group of images in the film: creating environments with the poem. In one such sequence we use panoramic photographs of various locations. The camera will travel across these landscapes. They begin to transform from one location to another: mountains to seashore to city to highway to words. This could be explored in a number of different ways: - The words could be used to describe or name a given object, - The words could be modeled to look like the given object - I.E. Mountains, clouds etc. Nichol created a series of landscapes and horizons., Horizon 11 _____ sea light sky _____ sky light sea _____ light sea light _____ light sky light _____ light light light, Extreme Positions
In this sequence, a poem will be read outloud while a finger follows the line along in the book. The sequence places the reader presently on the page. In the reference stills, Montag from Truffaut's version of Fahrenheit 451 reads David Copperfield very carefully. The camera gradually moves in to the point that we can no longer see the line that the words belong to and we are dependent on the voice to tell us the story., Untitled, Untitled, Untitled
In this passage from Book 5 of The Martyrology, the limits of the page are highlighted by using it as a metaphor for a window. Though the window we get a glimpse of an image that cannot be written down. Instead the page and the poem on it become the image. This passage speaks to the complex relationship between word an image - in this case the images traveling by the window serve as a catalyst for the poem which happens firmly on the page.
Continental Trance is a long piece in which Nichol writes through a train trip from the west to the east. It weaves together images of landscape of Canada, encounters he has with the people in the train, reminiscence from his past, anxieties about the future with his poetic concerns about language and the moment of writing. This segment will excerpt from Continental trance and will set a performance of the poem by Nichol against imagery and animation of trains., S, Untitled, Untitled, Untitled
Shot 32 - Ferry to Duke Point
As opposed to synesthetically representing sound poetry using animation (as is being done in other segments in the film), this sequence will be almost like a documentary: shoot very provocative imagery and create a sequence that sets the backdrop creating moments of synchronicity and contrast.
Using various post production techniques, text will be placed in the environment as if it were physically there. Light, gravity, obstruction by other objects, camera artifacts (depth of field, camera movement etc..) will all be applied to the composited text to give it the appearance of having been in front of the lens at the time the sequence was shot. In the reference still here, the design studio MK12 combined a handheld shot taken from a car with interconnected text to create a stunning sequence for a music video., Untitled, Untitled, Untitled, Untitled, Untitled
In Book 4 of the Martyrology, we find a passage that crystalizes a theme we find throughout Nichol's work: the text does not lead us off the page with metaphor, allegory or other tropes. Instead it brings us back to the surface of the page and the materiality of the text. Douglas Barbour performs this passage in Edmonton. The sequence will play with the type of the poem and an animated bouncing ball that follows his every word along the line of the poem. The idea of this sequence is to draw attention to the line and the word.
Ian Hamilton Finlay produced this stunning photographed plate of poetry in nature. Letters/poems are composed on a on a sheet of glass, they are placed in the scene and then photographed. He created a composite images in the most direct fashion. This harkens to the old plate-glass matte painting techniques. In this segment, animated poems will be printed on sheets of acetate and then placed within a scene and photographed frame by frame. The result will be a very direct composite of poem and image.
This is a test plate from a series of rubbings from engraving guides.
Ghosts is a sequence from Love: A Book of Remembrances. The sequence consists of a series of “rubbings” of letters on the page. A relief of a letter is placed under the page and it is then “rubbed” with a writing utensil. The result is an image of the object that was once present. Ghosts is a series of images of letters that were once present but are now absent. This sequence is like a visual exploration of Derrida’s notion of “Trace” in which all elements of a language system (a system of difference) are present in all the other elements by virtue of their absence. The rubbing produces an image of the presence of an absence. Stephen Ross Smith does of performance of Ghosts from the pages of Love: A Book of Remembrances. The sequence will combine his performance with a series of animated rubbings of letters.
The Turin Texts are a sound poem performed on two separate recording tracks. The performance uses 2 layers of soundpoetry in the much the same way that a musician might do overdubs to add complexity to their composition. The source "score" is unpublished and was retrieved from the archives at Simon Fraser. It features a series of shapes that have been cut apart at points and have, as if affected by gravity or wind, begun to drift apart from each other. Following is a frame from the "score" as well as a frame from an animated test (above). The animation creates the sense that these shapes are drifting away from each other.
Very directly exploring the connection between word and image. Various words could be superimposed, projected and/or be used in between images. This sequence explores images and words on screen - like making a moving pictures/textual hybrid. Its a rather direct and forceful tactic. Some ideas for projections: Projecting connectives about, at, for, of, to, across, because, from, off, under, after, before, if, on, so, up, against, between, in, then, when, but, near, or, though, where, and, by, not, out, through, while, as, down, now, over, till, with. Projected descriptives still, blue, grey, white, red, black, brown, yellow, orange Projected pronouns. I, you, we, he, she, they, us Projected nouns. light, sky, ocean, sea, field, road, water, shore, beach, tree, forrest, cloud, dusk, dawn, forrest, fish, horizon, lake, sun, land, hand, mind...
Translating Translating Apollinaire Nichol's first published poem was a translation of an Apollinaire poem. He used this translation as the basis for a dazzling array of "mechanical translations". These would include things like replacing every word with the dictionary definition of the word, a sound translation in which he would write out words that sound like the the component sounds of each word in the poem, an alphabetical version, a version arranged by letter count, a memory translation based on a colleague's recollection of the poem etc. The text would, in a very delightful fashion, reveal something about the system used to create the translation. In the film, there will be some new mechanical translations of the original TTA.
Various translational systems will be applied to Nichol's work., Procedural translations Various computer scripts will be used to create procedural and mechanical links between Nichol's work and what we see on screen., Sound Translations Using audio analysis software that measures frequency, amplitude and attack, various animation parameters will be "hardwired" to the sounds produced by a performance of Nichol's poetry. Scale, rotation, colour, transparency, position, shape...IMAGE CHOICE...the sky is the limit in terms of what can be linked to the results of the audio analysis., Picture Follows Sound - Granular Compositions This is perhaps a more manual version of the above technique in which images are assigned to sounds and then a musical composition is constructed using the sounds. The picture follows sound in this case., Sound Follows Picture - Granular Compositions Strings of sound will be assigned to images. A sequence will be cut together based on visual cues and the sound will follow.
song for st ein
In this sequence, a camera will be placed on the inside of the typewriter to capture the "guts" of the writing machine. As the poem is written it will be read and seen. The entire piece will be cut together to form a rhythmic piece., Untitled, Untitled, Untitled
White Sound is a visual poem in which Nichol used machine noise and "generation loss" to create a visual sequence. Rubber stamps, empty mimeo plates and successive photocopies to degrade the original rubber stamped sequence. The document was then used a score. Nichol's interpretation of the text mimics the noises of the machines used to produce the document. Steven Ross Smith employs a similar strategy in his filmed performance of the score. This sequence will be an animated sequence following Nichol's interpretation which will transition/transform into Ross Smith's performance.
This is a frame for a test in which successive frames of SRS's performance were printed on an old dot matrix printer and then rescanned to create a real shift in the quality of the image.
In an interview clip, Nichol speaks about making a breakthrough in his writing in which he was able to write like his drawings in which people were interacting with letters. In "Love a Book of Remembrances", the poems break down into letters which , when read aloud, form rhythmic sequences. The letters come together to form the occasional phrase or sentence and then scatter once again. This sequence will create a visual analogue for the rhythms in the reading using letters and abstract shapes using a variety of organic cameraless animation techniques., Cameraless Animation, Use Letraset, Marker, Potato prints, rubber stamps etc. to create animated sequences on the surface of the film. The idea behind the sequence will be to create animations that draw attention to the fact that moving image is created out of a series of still frames - the basic unit of moving image. Following is the above mentioned film as well as a small representations of tests done to explore working with sequential frames on paper as opposed to film.
In selected organs, bpNichol writes a series of playful poems about body parts. The series looks at the body in the context of personal history and language. Daphne Marlatt reads the mouth from this series. The sequence will cut between the image of her reading of the poem and animated text synchronized to her voice. The text will slowly drift in its synchronization to emphasize the aurallity – the location of the transmission of the text.
Nichol reports having spent a few months in NYC. From his experience there he created a sequence called "The Actual Life of Language". It would appear to be headline material from billboards, newspapers, and other signs. The title is interesting as it gives one the impression that language, when we are not looking at it, has a life of its own out there. The film will produce its own version of this poem using signage, newspaper headlines etc.
Animated light painting hits on the performative aspect of animation filmmaking. Nichol did a series of drawings like this, highlighting the "moment" of writing and its relationship to the body. The sequence, found in his manuscript papers, was called "body in light" which seems to recall this technique of using an open shutter and a small light source to create a line on film., Untitled
Interrupted nap is a visual poem in which layers of text appear to build up on the pages. The words “yes”, “no”, and “aphasia” appear throughout these pages as does the phrase “once upon a time there was a land…”. From the visual impression of this text there is a sense of a jumble of thoughts over laying each other. The reference to aphasia in the context of the title emphasizes the idea of not being able to make sense in the expression or comprehension of the text. Nichol's performance of this text is particularly interesting and brings up a theme that we will see throughout the film, how does one read a visual text? There are 8 segments to this performance which will be interspersed throughout the film.
Two Words: A Wedding, makes a statement about our relationship to words - that we are inextricably linked to word and that, in their shift in meaning, we too change with them. This poem lays out clearly the idea of materiality that runs through Nichol's work - "because we are words and our meanings change". Stephen Scobie reads this on a beach in Victoria BC. For this segment, he will be rotoscoped out of the background and placed infront of a landscape created from text that describes the surrounding landscape.
Gil McElroy curated a show of Nichol's visual work, entitled St. Art, in 2000 at the Confederation Center for the Arts in Charlottetown, PEI. The show featured a large selection of Nichol's visual work in one location. While it was not a comprehensive show by any means, it introduces the idea of the range of Nichol's visual work. This sequence explores the exhibit and discusses the work and the issue with curating such show.
This sequence will explore the sheer volume of the Martyrology -it is nine books long Using timelapse/stop motion animation, we will flip through the pages of the Martyrology. The background could be a neutral setting OR, using greenscreen, it could be made up of a series of images from the film or otherwise., There are many instances of Nichol explaining the Martyrology to his audiences. He sometimes talks about the saints, he sometimes talks about the notion of a poetic journal, he sometimes speaks about the Martyrology being a place to work on material that does not belong anywhere else. The interviews will be edited together to emphasize the notion of the Martyrology being an open text - he says different things about it on different occasions.
In this sequence, the book fills much of the frame. Behind it is an environment. This could be done a number of different ways: - shooting stop frame: the book and camera are locked to each other. We move incrementally though the city or other environment. The background changes but the book stays steady. There are hands on the book and perhaps we flip pages (also in stop motion) as we move. - Shooting live action. The book is held up against a variety of settings in live action. A montage of these sequences is cut together that interacts with the text. - projected background. The book is held up against a projected background. Again an almost old fashioned compositing technique here that recalls Ray Harryhausen's work in Clash of the Titans or the Jason and the Argonaughts. - Greenscreen. The book is held up against greenscreen and we create our background using any number of images and/or techniques. - An over the shoulder reading of a poem. Reading over someone's shoulder., These sequences will form the visual counterpoint for a series of interview segments in which Nichol speaks about his work., Phillis web interview - Nichol speaks about simultaneously wanting to be able to control the language while also being lead by it. In this same interview, he is asked how he would like to be read. He responds that he would like to be read aloud., In a CBC Yellowknife interview, Nichol is asked if he is afraid of leaving his readers behind with the aspects of his work that is obscure or difficult to read. He makes the statement that he would prefer that his texts be viewed like one might view a musical score., George Bowering Interview - a very young Nichol speaks about the concerns of concrete poetry and "border blur" ( bpcd11), CBC Calgary Interview Intro Aug 29, 1983. This is a very humorous introduction to bpNichol's work in which the interviewer speaks about the variety of Nichol's writing.( bpcd11)
On of the features of bpNichol's work is its luxurious (or on certain days - daunting) volume and variation. Using a variety of recording, texts, and filmic techniques the "Many Pages" segments will explore this variation using a few different visual techniques: - hinting at the wide range of his work though animating through it - condensing big texts into short timeframes (IE a time-lapse of flipping through the 9 books of the Martyrology in 30 seconds) etc. Above is a frame from a test in which the camera moves through different pages of his books. Each page is attached to a sound which gets louder as we approach it and which diminishes as we pass by. The impression is one of almost cacaphonic noise.
In this sequence, there will be a multi-screen composition in which various poetry readings interweave. They will fade in and out, sync up or run out of sync, run simultaneously or alone. The sequence will create tensions between various trains of thought in the various segments of Nichol's performances. It will be like Glen Gould's radio docs in which he would fade the voices into each other - The most famous of which is "The Idea of North"
Waiting is a poem in which the text directly addresses the reader with a sort of ambivalent, almost frightening, voice. This poem is a crystallization of the idea that the poem exists in the interaction between the reader and the marks on surface of the page. This sequence will be returned to throughout the film and will be represented in a variety of forms. It will surprise us with its reappearance. The emphasis on the materiality of the text in this poem will be used as an opportunity to explore the materiality of the moving image.
Allegories is a series of visual poems from Love: A Book of Remembrances. In these panels, the alphabet seem to talk to and about itself. It is no longer signifying a world outside itself. It is, instead, creating its own reality. In this sense, its like a visual onomatopoeia in which the meaning of the mark comes not from what the mark stands for but from what the mark imitates.
This poem introduces Nichol's typewriter poetry. There are a number of poems in this series which will be expanded on in the film by using them as the basis for animated sequences.
The early/middle english series are visual poems from Nichol's journals that show the letters of the alphabet mingling (or getting tangled) with each other. They, very playfully, highlight the idea of language as a system of difference. These poems will be very simply animated using hand drawn cycles of each letter to give them some dynamism and life. The letters will explode from a single source, and conversely come together from disparate directions. The idea is to create a sense of the leters forming a basic physical substance - a protozoic soup of sorts.
This is a sequence in which a visual translation of a poem will be created. It will play out as a silent sequence. This sequence could utilize icons that would stand for words...like pictograms or a rebus. In addition, the sequence could use more subtle visual devices like, visual rhyme, visual rhythm, visual puns...etc. The idea would be to try to create filmic equivalents to literary devices used by Nichol. Images would be gathered like a scrapbook to build this sequence. This process could be informed by "search engine" images, IE. using a Google Image search for the words of the poem IE: "train"., A possible variation on this idea would be to shift from a poem being represented as words to a poem represented as audio with picture (perhaps this is done with one of the performances). So it would start with word on the screen and then shift to words with picture, to to only picture, and then back again. This sequence explores a themes that we see through the entire film about the relationship between words and image and in particular, poetic language and filmic language.
In this sequence, there will an opposition between the word on the page (as it is read or displayed on screen) and the image on screen. The idea being to explore the semantic distance between word and image - what the quality of that distance is and and how it is traversed. One example of this might be to create a frame in which you feature an image above a line of text. The image is initially synchronized with the text. As the sequence progresses the image-text relationship drifts out of sync. A recorded soundpoem from "Borders" will be featured in this sequence. In it, Nichol playfully explores the sound of the words "apples" and "oranges"..and for good measure he throws in some lettuce.
Nichol often explored the word dream on the page. In each of his explorations the word and page are used to express qualities of dreams. The idea here would be to create an animated sequence that would translate these works to screen.
Assumptions is a series of poems from The Martyrology Book 7&. The sequence explores basic and complex assumptions about the world. This selection is a meditation on loss and our subsequent wish for a physical marker and reliance on memory for connection to the passed/past. Roy Miki reads this poem in his backyard on a sunny Vancouver afternoon. The film runs out of the magazine before he delivers the final lines of the poem "the attachments, the attachments, the attachments". This serendipitous event gives us a sense of our attachment to the image of the performer. This sequence will likely be left as is in the edit of the film to emphasize this final moment in which the image disappears.
Flipping through photos of Plunkett, we hear bp read from "the plunkett hotel". Alternate between the photographs, archival documents from Plunkett and live shots. Plunkett is where bp's grandparents had farms and a hotel. This texts speaks about family history and our relationship to those stories as a source of identity.
Nichol wrote a song called "This is a Love Poem" It very simply repeats the phrase "this is a love song, wrote it on the long road, nearly home" This sequence will be projected on a road as we travel through town at night. We will hear the music and a rendition of the song as the sequence plays out.
Typography will be animated and composited into archival photographs of Nichol. The compositing of the type will use lighting, colour, lens effects and perspective to give it the appearance of having been in front of the lens when the photo was taken. This sequence will explore a relationship between the image of Nichol and an image of "his" texts. The reference still above, which was produced by MK12, illustrates the possibilities of this technique., Archival Photos, This test plate highlights the techniques that will be used in the animated sequences: 3 dimensional type, lens and lighting effects and perspective. These "artifacts" will be used to create the sense that the typography existed infront of the lens.