Manual: How to make videopoems, courtesy of Swoon

This entry is part 8 of 39 in the series Manual


Manual: How to wait from Swoon on Vimeo

Manual: How to walk from Swoon on Vimeo

If you follow my poetry video collection Moving Poems even a little, you’ve probably watched more than one videopoem by the Belgian video-artist and soundcreator Swoon — and I haven’t even posted all his work. Not only is he prolific and (obviously) fast-moving; he’s one of the most inventive and interesting artists working in the medium. I like the music he composes as well. So I was thrilled when he asked me, this past week, if I’d mind him making some videos for my new Manual series.

He’s also kindly provided an English translation of his blog post about the videos as well as a short bio, which I have tweaked just a little with his permission:

Poetry, words and dreams form an important basis for the work of Swoon. As a stranger in our midst he recycles “virtual” internet images, shoots his own, creates soundscapes and makes dreamlike, moving paintings out of it all — a dream made real out of vague bits. Swoon’s work has been selected for several festivals around the world. He’s an autodidact.

Swoon writes:

For “Manual” I wanted to create, first of all, a track that I could later adjust with each new episode.

Listen on SoundCloud

For images I wanted to do something with what Dave said on Facebook: “My biggest influences on the writing in this series, by the way, are the Serbian poets Vasko Popa and Novica Tadic. That’s the level of absurdism I’m trying to mine — a challenge for my somewhat too-logical mind.”

So I needed to go away from my usual way of setting up a project. I was not going to use layers; the feel of the films needed to have a slight touch of absurdism.

For “How to wait,” I wanted to film two bare feet standing/waiting. When I used a piece of bacon (lying around, waiting for lunch) to set focus and I looked at the test-footage, it struck me. This works. I love it when coincidences like this take a lead.

All I had to do was follow my trail of thoughts. Keep it simple. Film at home with what you can find in the kitchen.

For editing, I created three “storylines” of film for each text. Then I edited three different versions (backwards, …) of those three into a “nine-screen.”


Swoon adds that more videos will probably follow. How exciting! I think the bacon works in part because of the English expression “bring home the bacon” and related phrases such as “save one’s bacon” and “chew the fat.” According to the U.K. site The Phrase Finder, “bacon has been a slang term for one’s body, and by extension one’s livelihood or income, since the 17th century.” So to me as a viewer, the bacon in these videos seems to symbolize the generalized object of striving or attention. In any case, I think Swoon’s use of it is a good demonstration of the Zen dictum, “first thought, best thought.”

Listen to Swoon’s audio compositions on Soundcloud, watch his videos on Vimeo, follow his blog and visit his website.

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