Right so where were we. SCRO will have a life as ink on paper, another as light in the air. That’s what I imagine right now anyway. Both start from a shaken aasemic journal page like this.
The black wavy areas are my fingers (to the left) and wrists (to the right) where they press the paper to the glass. (“Are”?) This one came out unusually white on the left because of how afternoon sunlight had soaked my study just then. The checker pattern on the right’s what my scanner does with a grey that hovers, to its this-or-that B&W mind, discomfitingly between.
The first one to come out white like this was a shock. Shitty shit, I thought, I just got this toner cartridge, I hate going to Office Depot. Then I waited for a cloud, tried again, the scan came out black, I thought aha, oho.
I’d already planned 24 pages, for dailiness, the quotidian, now I saw I needed to do the pages one an hour over the course of a single day. When a learned a week or two later about the Poetry Marathon, I knew what day it would be.
The printed form, if I can find a chapbook publisher willing and able to take this on, will be a continuous scroll of these pages, looking something like this.
Just a mockup, assembled by X-acto knife and scotch tape …
I’ll be starting at 6 am, around sunrise. If the day’s sunny, I should get the brightest backings in mid-afternoon, when my south and west windows take in the sun. From there it will go, as the poet said, into the dark.
The other life I imagine for this – patterns of dark and light cast on a wall.
I opened up iMovie, thinking I’d mess around there for a bit, then learn some real video editing software. But as I hit the program’s limitations, I started to feel they were a help to me – limits I could make constraints on the poem. Plus, holding myself to ordinary means (Sharpie, home-office photocopier, iPhone voice-notes app) suits this project, which is all about nothing special.
Working quickly, not deliberating much, I cropped some 16:9 stills from the page I’d scanned. (At 1200 dpi, the highest res I can. Some kinds of data loss I love. Not pixellation. And if I want these images on the big screen one day.) Here are a few.
Some grabbed me because their language did what it meant.
Here I love Mr. Moustachio. The back-and-forth between him and “angry” feels equally weighted. And the horizontal distortion bar pleases me.
This might be my favourite. A leaf beetle bearing or born of the word “leaf.”
This one’s mostly abstract – I’m keen on the way markings call our language faculty into play without allowing it to resolve in a determinate meaning – but “city” resonated well with the audio clip I had by this point found.
Cuz I’d also begun grabbing clips of ambient sound with my iPhone’s voice-notes app. At first thought I was just practicing for when I could borrow real recording gear. But after a few test clips I found the homemadeness of the sound suited me just fine. Also the sounds of me recording or abiding – shifting in my seat, clinking my coffee cup on the tile coaster.
The audio for the clip I posted yesterday – chainsaw crew next door taking out my neighbour’s lilac, in preparation for raising a new fence – me closing my study window – clink of said coffee cup.
How to put it together? It’s about letting the accidents in – patterns not of my choosing. Including patterns I inherit, my father’s karma, my father’s genes. (Not my choosing or his.) Each page of the scroll takes about a minute to read aloud and I know I might want, in some iterations, to read the poem aloud in company of the moving images.
First decision, each of 24 passages gets a minute each.
So I’m in the realm of number, 24 passages, 60 seconds each. If each still is Phoenician, in a wildering course that never travels wholly out of view of phonetic charactery, for their sequencing in time I’ll go to Babylon, where our minutes and seconds, our degrees and zodiacal houses come from.
I did some reading about 60. It’s a cool number. A unitary perfect number, one of only five known, being the sum of its unitary divisors. A highly composite number, having more factors than any smaller number. An abundant number, the sum of its divisors greater than itself.
Count the joints on the fingers of one hand, once through, thumb doing the counting, you get 12 – that’s a day. Do it with both hands – that’s 24, a day and a night. Do it five times, you get 60. So much for the inevitability of base 10 systems.
Sixty also has a sweet number of factors: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60.
Decided, each clip will be x seconds long, where x is one of the first ten divisors of 60, randomly generated.
If x yields a sum longer than 60 seconds, discard and generate a new x (as in darts when you’re playing to 300). So clips will tend to accelerate at the end. Whoosh.
The results for x in this clip
were 5, 20, 12, 5, 3, 2, 3, 3, 1, 1, 5. I got to decide what clips in what order. Also how slow or quick the transition between two clips. One set I set in motion.
Overlaid the soundtrack with no effort to coordinate it to the clips. That the window slides closed just as one black blade glides over another is just good luck.
That so many things are tuned to their neighbours – without any assertion on my part – seems to me more than luck.
One more for ya, different page, sprocket hole study.
If you’ve made it this far. The cross-fade and the “Ken Burns effect” in iMovie can both be cheesy very easily. Have I avoided cheese entirely? Comments section, be honest, I need to know. And thank you for reading.
For a few months now I’ve been laying the groundwork for a new project called SCRO. In a couple of weeks, over a 24 hour span and in the company of a few hundred other poets around the globe (see here), I’m going to generate the images and sounds for the poem actual.
I thought, while I wait for that day – the base text is written and the process mostly set – I’d tell you about the scheme and share a few bits of the mockup.
The base text is 24 pages of journal writing, reworked and streamlined, begun shortly after a visit to my father in California. The visit stirred feelings, worries, memories. Maybe because I was writing in my house, for which my dad helped me secure the loan, the ground of the poem became this house.
The illegibility – you’ll see what I mean – is for how hard it is to get another person. Also for how hard it is to get yourself. Also for my fear my father is slipping away, his mind, to a place where he’s not to be reachable.
Here’s the third page, before any funny business.
I rework the writing a bit, streamline it, but try to preserve the blushful emotional directness. This one’s not so exposing, but later ones, oh yes. I want to work with the language I speak in when I’m speaking just to me and maybe in difficulty. I’m interested in dailiness, inner sounds, outer sounds.
I want to bring the banal into the lyric in way that doesn’t sink my practice but ballasts it. I know some of the known ways: irony and pastiche in written lyric, cadence and insistence in spoken word. But those don’t come to me so natural. So I’m stumbling towards a chimerical way with proprioceptive foreparts and digital hindquarters.
Dude, obscure. I take the page and shiver it on the photocopier in the corner of my study. My gesture, slow, fast, does something to the scripture; the scan bar, turning strokes and loops by light to bits, does something to it en même temps.
I scan that on black-and-white to further the data loss and get
What I’ve called aasemic writing and have written of here.
SCRO as a truncated form of scroll – the form I want it to take. Also escrow – a debt that binds me to my father. Both from a Germanic root meaning shred.
Only later did I realize the sound-cluster calls to mind scrotum. Hello hidden mind (u stinking bastard). That’s what this scroll book is though. Query into the broken unbroken ties between me and my dad that manhood are.
This post’ll need to be in 2 parts. Gotta grill me some chicken and torrent some Mr. Robot. Just quick, I’m looking at two final objects – a scroll I hope I can find some chapbook press willing to fashion, and an audio-video thing I imagine installed big on a gallery wall. Here’s a foretaste: