Monday, December 5, 2011

Book Fourteen

This book is composed of rough, almost unpleasant craft paper. Two pieces of galvanized sheet metal make up the cover. I cut the sheets and put the whole thing together during a month residency at the Banff Centre. It was February 1997 and I was working on a contribution for the "Deep Web" project. The results are still available on this site. An Index of Possible Saviours is a collection of animations I made of the concrete poems of Canadian poet b.p. nichol.

In 1997 Web animations were a kind of Zoetropic machine. They played at erratic speeds, were made up of low resolution GIFs, and were generally quite tiny. These qualities became advantages for web pages delivering time-based poetry and text. I adapted some of my own work for the medium. Bloodwork: An Epigram to Anna Akhmatova is a dedication to the Russian poet and Birds of Good Omen for Sandra married slow progress of the text with the stop motion photography of Eadweard Muybridge.

I also completed an animation of Leonard Cohen's "Two went to Sleep." As neither the images nor the text were mine I didn't put it up. But, I still like it, and there is something in the way the text and the images repeat that links Muybridge and Cohen together.


I was in the mountains and it was desperately cold. Each morning I would awake in the inky blackness and walk over to the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Building. Elk hunkered down in the thick snow and sometimes you would surprise one in the darkness. A magnificent but unsettling experience.

In 1997, when my month was done I left the project I copied my work onto a CD. A technician brought in two special pieces of equipment - each about the size of a desktop computer. The first was a dedicated hard drive the second was the CD burner. The process took all afternoon.

That CD no longer works and the word files on my computer from that time will not open. I have the pages of the journal to read and some letters in a box. Things fall apart. Time passes.

Does time pass differently for everyone? I think it might. For a while I asked people if they had a shape or a notion of how time passed. I asked because, for me, the year has always been a circle with the summer at the top. Christmas and new years are at the very bottom. Hence "the height of summer" or "the depths of winter." I tried to realize this notion by breaking the circle and swivelling out the lower half to make a sine wave. I thought that a web page that scrolled horizontally would contain this idea well. The page would scroll from left to right - like time itself. The project was hindered by the limitations of web browsers but I still have a desire to return to it one day.

Here is a screenshot of the beginning. Click on the image for a larger version.


Here is a list of the books.

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