Film Scratches: Digital Lyricism – The Film Poems of Bobie
Film Scratches focuses on the world of experimental and avant-garde film, especially as practiced by individual artists. It features a mixture of reviews, interviews, and essays.
A Review by David Finkelstein.
Bobie (Yves Bommenel) is a French poet and composer who has created a series of inventive, invigorating videos of some of his poems. They are all under 3 minutes long and, for those viewers who don’t know French, quite a few of them have an English text either on the web page or within the video. He is adept at creating radically different moods, textures, and rhythms for each poem with his manipulation of digital imagery and electronic music, so that the energy and mood of each poem is placed in its own special world.
In Sakura Yama, the technology and speed of trains in Japan is effectively juxtaposed with the cultivated natural beauty of cherry blossoms. Bouncy electronica music suggests modern bustle, while the screen is divided into rectangles like a traditional wall hanging. The text, read by a synthesized voice, dances gleefully through the images.
In Circulaire, the words to the poem are completely lost in the looped sound texture, but the beautiful visuals are entrancing: expanding gray circles in a soft texture like a charcoal rubbing, framed by quadrilateral shapes.
The text of In Nomine Pixel is a prayer about digital video production, in fake Latin, set to a track which sounds like a video game with a beat. Visually, stained glass windows from a church are cleverly transformed through video effects into fast paced eye candy. Since both art and technology are often experienced as a form of religion, this seems appropriate as well as witty.
The text in Rétrospective is simply a recitation of dates, and might not hold up on its own as poetry. But it is highly suggestive when viewed with the images: a superimposition of many layers. The images are all reduced to colored outlines on a black background, allowing the eye to distinguish between the layers. The film visualizes our experience of aging, of storing larger and larger caches of memories in our minds.
Bobie has a penchant for using synthesized voices to read most of the texts. At times, the poems clearly refer to technology. At other times, it seems as if he has a deep mistrust of whole notion of performance, of the ability of an actor to read a text in a way that doesn’t overdetermine the listener’s interpretation.
These tightly integrated compositions, an equal partnership between music, poetry and images, extend the tradition of lyrical poetry by shining a digital light on the daily epiphanies of life.