This music video production was another enjoyable opportunity to work with flutist, composer and performance artist Janice Misurell-Mitchell. The piece is based on the poem, “Karawane” (or Caravan), written and originally performed by Da Da poet Hugo Ball in February, 1916 at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich; it is considered one of the first sound poems. Janice was kind enough to allow me to contribute my own artistic vision to the video which was inspired by the poem, the music and her unique performance.
Visually I wanted to pay homage to the poem which explores an emphasis on the auditory experience of what we commonly seem to recognize to be words, over their potential meaning. In her composition and performance, Janice advances this illusion by adding the element of vocal inflection, which seems to contribute meaning where of course none exists. I wanted to continue the theme by creating visual segments that seem to break the nonsense “words” into phrases. To some degree these phrases are punctuated by the musical line. However the idea is not exactly to “trick” the audience into thinking there is some hidden meaning. In fact part of the “objective” of Da Da is to be random and arbitrary so I tried to keep that in mind as well. To do this it was necessary to not overthink the process but to trust my instincts and use visual elements that just seemed “to work.” A few times I chose to monochrome the scene in black & white, as well as superimpose the vintage photo of Ball during the segments that specifically related to his historic performance. I then faded to color to bring us back to the present. Various effects were chosen to add a visual emphasis to particularly chaotic portions of the piece. During the beginning segment of the reading, I used clips from the actual original printing of the poem as subtitles which utilized varied fonts for each of the “words.” These random techniques were championed by this post WWI artistic movement to express the absurdity of war and draw attention to the arbitrary nature of life itself.
This video production provides an opportunity to showcase some of the effects in my visual arsenal as well as share the end result of an artistic collaboration. The video was recorded as a live performance at the Roots Room in Chicago and mixed with a prerecording of the music backtrack. War Chant was a previous performance video production I produced for J.M. Mitchell.