Anim-Poem: The Medium is the Memory

This animation by Elliot M. Smith operates directly on the text of a poem by Charles Bukowski. I’d never read the Bukowski poem before seeing Mr. Smith’s stunning adaptation of the original and, now, I’d probably not recognize the original if it leapt off the bookshelf and slapped me (which I hope it will).

This is the kind of “new book” that Florian Brody prophesied in his 2000 essay called “The Medium is the Memory” (in P. Lunenfeld, The Digital Dialectic). We’ll be returning to that essay (and that volume) further in subsequent posts.

Meanwhile, what do you think of Elliot Smith’s presentation of Bukowski’s poem? What, if anything, would you have done differently in animating that poem? If you would do something differently, does that divergence reflect a difference in your memory of this poem, even (especially!) if you’ve never experienced it before viewing and listening to Mr. Smith’s adaptation?


~ by matt on 29 July 2007.

2 Responses to “Anim-Poem: The Medium is the Memory”

  1. Eight Years Later…..

    Why do you consider this – admittedly nice – Bukowski animation the “new book”?

    It reminds me in a good way of the typographic animations created on film in the 1920s and 1930s.

  2. No, that was very misleading of me, and thanks for calling me on that. If I’d better represented the line (curve?) of reasoning I meant to convey I would’ve invoked the “new reader” (i.e., suddenly me) that your potent notion of new book would imply. I’d hoped to write more about that subsequently but never did–how does moving the poem off the page affect its most distinctive characteristic, the line break? And things like that.

    Your comment about this animation and the typographic films of yore helps me appreciate this Bukowski animation a bit more. If we’re thinking of the same things, those old animations seemed to be charming, hopeful, and naively alluding to the plenitude of a future in which sans serif will make things right. What stunned me by Smith’s animation here is how much more I like the animated Bukowski poem than the one Bukowski wrote. It’s funnier, in a way.

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Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

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