Conference Project Proposal: Found Poetry

My conference project will consist of two videos which utilize kinetic text and animation. The central theme is found poetry, or words found in the world and transformed into something poetic. They also utilize animation of shapes and figures to add to their visual interest.
fridge

Still from ‘Fridge Poetry.’

The first video is titled ‘Fridge Poetry,’ and its inspiration is exactly that. I own a set of small fridge magnets, each with a single word printed on it, and my fridge is covered in odd poetic sentences created by my roommates and I. It always amazes me how limited words can combine to convey a new meaning. The video is intended to be a visual representation of a fantastical fridge, with the magnetic poetry as kinetic text being the focal point. I made around 80 individual word tiles, and I animated each one to appear as if someone was dragging it from its place lined up on the bottom of the fridge to form new poems. The pace of motion is varied, which I hope conveys the sense of an invisible someone thinking about what they want to write. To reenforce the fantastical element of a fridge that almost appears alive or slightly magical, I added a list of imaginary chores.
chores

Imaginary chores.

I may also add ‘living’ magnets, such as a flower magnet that unfurls its petals or a frog that hops around. I’m still thinking through this idea. This video focuses more heavily on the words than the second one, and its background is a static image of a refrigerator (my refrigerator in fact, photoshopped to remove the real, boring chore list and to create a blank slate for the animated poems to form).  
sky video projection

‘My Never Sunshine’ projected onto a ceiling.

My second video, titled ‘My Never Sunshine,’ is a mashup of the songs “You Are My Sunshine” by Charles Mitchell and “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. I had this idea because one day I got both songs stuck in my head, and thought that a combination of the two would work well. Since I’m not a musician, I looked on YouTube and found that in fact two artists, Justin Sinclair and Jamey Geston, had recorded a live performance of a mashup of the two songs. (Watch it here.) The concept of the video is to juxtapose the lyrics in the form of kinetic text with the recorded song. I scrambled the lyrics of “You Are My Sunshine,” jumbling the words within the song to create a new poem of sorts, and interposed it with the lyrics of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” keeping each song separate. My hope is that this will create an interesting cognitive dissonance for the viewer as they are reading one thing and hearing another, with both the visual and auditory elements strongly resembling the original song but not matching it. I also used different font colors to emphasize the difference between the songs. My rationale behind using black for “Ain’t No Sunshine” and yellow for “You Are My Sunshine” was to denote the absence or presence of sunlight. Here is a brief excerpt to give an example: Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone You are my grey, my only dear It’s not warm when she’s away You make me mistaken when skies are sunshine Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone The idea of a lack of sunshine led me to a background of clouds, which the camera appears to pan over as the video progresses. I wanted to create the appearance of drifting slowly through a skyscape. The background utilizes pattern, with the clouds forming a somewhat repetitive pattern, and some of the individual clouds themselves being made up of patterns. At strong beats in the song, I will add new visuals, such as a rain cloud, a rainbow, a sunburst or a bird flying. Despite the melancholy tone of the song and the lyrics, the overall effect is somewhat cheerful due to the use of bright colors and crisp, clean lines.
sky3

Still from ‘My Never Sunshine.’

My motivation behind this conference project was to combine kinetic text with pattern, since they are the two parts of our course that spoke to me the most. Found poetry works well for me because I love words but struggle to create completely original creative content (I am more comfortable with writing essays than poems). I like that found poetry takes something already in the world and transforms it into something new and different but somewhat reminiscent of the original. I have also always enjoyed small pieces of found poetry in the real world, such as clever license plates, song mashups, bumper stickers, street signs and bathroom stall graffiti poetry. They have a surprising and whimsical effect that I hope to emulate with these videos.