Friday, February 25, 2011

Process Video: Dissonance


I'm especially excited to share this Process Video with you! For a while now, I've been admiring artists' process videos (like this one from Chris Piascik or this one from Robert Josiah Bingaman).

I wanted to create one just like theirs, and show how I write poems (because I always want to know how other writers create). So while writing "Dissonance," I recorded my desktop (using Quicktime--surprisingly easy). It was easy to forget that it was recording--this video represents an extremely typical way that I write. When I sat down to write, the only thing I knew was that I wanted to use artist Toc Fetch's work, which I had bookmarked earlier, as I usually do.

It took 50 minutes and 4 seconds to write this poem, and this video shows the process condensed to about 5 minutes. It was a struggle to upload this video successfully (it turned out very blurry in YouTube, every way that I tried), but in Vimeo it turned out a bit more clearly. The words are still not extremely clear (next time I do this, I'll use a larger font). It was strange to watch this video---maybe the pacing surprised me a little. You may wish to view it full screen to get that whole "I'm Hannah typing frenetically away at her computer" experience (for best results, have coffee nearby, and a cat on your lap).

I'd love to hear your thoughts on process--is this how you work, too? Do you type or write longhand? Do you listen to music (you saw me on Grooveshark and iTunes--at the end of the video, I list the artists I was listening to). It feels a bit like I'm inviting you into my brain...welcome! Come on in.

Process Video: Dissonance (poem) from Hannah Stephenson on Vimeo.

82 comments

  1. I have been much impressed by the sculptures - and the ideas - of David Nash of late. He talks of there being a looseness in the way the forms come together, but a tightness in the form itself, and of the need for there to be a moment of letting go. He also says that he keeps his mind on the process and let's the end result take care of itself. This all makes a lot of sense to me, and I think it is applicable to other arts as well - poetry, for example. My present post was intended in part as an allegory of these things.

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  2. So damn cool. Really. Your blog, your writing and all of it just gets better and better. I look forward to Fridays as it may mean that I get to hear you read a poem, so I was initially disappointed. Now that I have watched this video I feel like I just had the honour of watching a birth. Absolutely brilliant. Now if only we could hear the thoughts in your head and if only you could explain how your big, beautiful and numinous mind works---that would be fantastic.

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  3. Brava! I'll be sharing. It was fun to recognize things I do too (interrupt to look up words, hunt for synonyms, etc.) as well as things I could never do (listen to music while writing?!).

    I've discovered that if I upload a sufficiently large file to YouTube and Vimeo (typically in excess of 50 MB), both services will convert it to a pretty sharp FLV (depending on source material, of course). I don't imagine we use the same software, but in Adobe Premiere Elements, I choose "save to computer" -- never their supposedly helpful "online" option -- and then MPEG-2DVD file type in the NTSC TV standard, 720x480 frame size, 29.97 fps. I haven't really explored HD because my connection is too slow and uncertain -- I'd be lucky to get all the way through an upload of that size without the connection crapping out for a second or two at least once. But if you can do it, that would be the way to really get readable type for this kind of video. In general, I think the sharpness here is really pretty good, though.

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  4. I followed your advice and got the coffee first, though I don't have a cat. I am impressed, both by the work it took to put together this video, and the care you put into the creation of every poem. Thank you for sharing your process; and you amaze me even more, the way the image and your "fertile" mind leads you to polished work. I'm fascinated by process, and I find it interesting to see the similarities and the differences to how I create a poem. Like La Belette Rouge said, when it's appropriate to the video, I'd love to hear you doing a reading of more of your poems.

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  5. Ha ha...first off, I loved it. Second, when I work nowadays (with all the technology at our disposal), I do work dissonantly, interrupted by many things, searches, music, etc etc. I like the feeling of keyboards, I like to hear the clicking but in my heart my favorite way to write anything is in a corner of a coffee shop with my pen and paper, scratching away, new lines, correcting, etc. I work better in the silence of my head without the distractions; however, I don't do that much because I don't have that sort of time.

    Happy Weekend!

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  6. I'm always fascinated by process videos, especially of creative people at work. You and I share some things, working online instead of on paper (I now find it much easier to "think" online than on paper), listening to music (though I don't always do that), and doing research to make sure any facts used are correct. I keep a very ragged dictionary near my desk (I don't use a thesaurus at all).

    What makes this video fun to watch is that it looks like you work so effortlessly and quickly, when we all know how much goes into making a poem good.

    I appreciated this very much. Thank you.

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  7. Hannah, Fridays on your blog are my favorite days. I loved this video, loved being inside your mind. I found myself reading the words more carefully as you crafted them, thus ultimately getting a lot more out of the poem than I did on first reading.

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  8. Loved this! There are many things we do that are similar, probably one reason I love your poetry so much, because we process things the same way.

    One major difference in how I write is that I juggle maybe five or six poems in parallel - as a guard againt writer's block on one poem, mainly. I have stacks of references on each poem, and the elapsed time on each poem is days!

    I still am impressed by your daily discipline. And I now really look forward to Fridays because of you.

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  9. Absolutely fascinating, Hannah. The silent flicker and shift of visuals racing past comprise something much more than a mere visual aid guide to methodology.

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  10. Clever to transfer the process-in-time idea to a poem!

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  11. Fantastic! Your brain is a great place to visit. This is an awesome idea, and I enjoyed it very much. I am fascinated by the creative process, maybe because mine is so odd. It is also interesting to see how the process is so unique to each individual poet. My poems always begin in the woods, sometimes in my head, always scratched on paper. But I can relate to the dissonance. The physical is an integral part of my process--the moving of the hands, picking at rocks or tree bark, or walking, and my mind switches into that semi-hynotic state. Whatever it takes to produce your awesome poems is a good thing. Thank you for sharing it here!

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  12. just found your blog via a friend's and this video is amazing. i've been wanting to create something like this FOREVER and I'm so glad I can do it with Quicktime. Brilliant watching you draft. I just really love technology!

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  13. This was so entertaining, intriguing and really a treat. I loved watching your mind work, so very, very cool!!! Thank you, from a fellow poet who is also a "Hannah!" Smiles to you!!

    Love your poetry!

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