Two Videopoems from Jim Andrews and Adeena Karasick

by | Mixed Media

Artist Statements – “Lorem Ipsum:

Adeena Karasick: “Lorem Ipsum” is a homophonic translation of Cicero’s “De finibus bonorum et malorum,” On the Ends of Goods and Evils, using similar sounds and rhythms as the Latin. It’s a way of being in conversation with the previous work; in Derridean terms, a kind of “homage and parricide,” erupting as a kind of echography as it massages the “original,” moves through and across different modes, while maintaining a sense of “homophony” (same sound). “Lorem ipsum” is the term for the standard placeholder text used to demonstrate the graphic elements of a document or visual presentation. I was interested in not only ‘place holding’ as a concept but in the ways it gets reworked through an impossible relationship both in love and in language, how it speaks to notions of locus, of being, of place and replaceability, plaisir, power, transfer and exchange; how nothing ever is what or where it is, because it’s always shifting, fluid, in flux, referencing or representing all that it’s not. Taking this notion of replacement / displacement made so much sense as a homophonic translation where I could burrow into not only its content, but languages’ sonic properties; or as McLuhan might say, it’s acoustic space; its inner landscape, fields of relations, elation, erration; and play inside a dynamic aural arena that’s creating its own dimensions out of itself — so extatically wrought with how sound communicates meaning through rhythm, cadence, lilts, liquids, labials; modes, tones, pitch, fricatives, consonantal clusters, sibilance, assonance — evoking intense emotion, synchronically, diachronically. Sometimes what’s generated is intensely sorrowful or deeply passionate, sometimes dark and foreboding, and sometimes, due to the strange mashups of logic, it’s just…funny. The text of “Lorem Ipsum” was written while composing the Spoken Word Opera, Salomé: Woman of Valor, written on various trains through Italy (Padova, Venice, Cinque Terre, Sorrento), the summer of 2016. It appears in my 2018 book, Checking In from Talonbooks. “Lorem Ipsum” is one of three homophonic translations in the book. 

Jim Andrews: We started the video of “Lorem Ipsum” after I read it in Adeena’s book Checking In (Talonbooks, 2018). I had no idea of the method of composition. Turns out it’s a homophonic translation of Cicero’s “De finibus bonorum et malorum”. I was just really struck by the poem. Which goes to show that you don’t really need to know how a poem came to be to enjoy it. I felt it was both passionate and intensely eloquent in an excitingly strange way. It’s compellingly erotic but also has a kind of yearning toward poetry and art, a lust for poetry and art—for beauty, in a sense—that you don’t see much. If at all, ever before, in just this way. And yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s seriously goofy, at points. “Wild logos” is beautifully contradictory but the poem has, yes, that kind of energy. I used Aleph Null and a video editor to create the visuals. Aleph Null is a graphic synthesizer I wrote in JavaScript/HTML/CSS. The text of “Lorem Ipsum” is filled with samples of screenshots of one of my Aleph Null projects called Alchemical Cosmography. The underlying images are, primarily, images from the 9th to the 18th centuries concerned with alchemy and/or cosmology. I had a sense of the congruence of these images with “Lorem Ipsum” before I knew that it’s inspiration was a text from the ancient world. Cicero, a Roman, lived from 106-43 BCE. There’s a kind of classical feel to “Lorem Ipsum”, a sense of it being connected both to the contemporary avant garde but also to the bards of the ancient world, to a long and venerable tradition of the quest through romance for satisfaction and even enlightenment, and to the poetry of lust, romance and bawdiness; the portion of Cicero’s text that Adeena used is on hedonism. It’s a timeless piece.


“Checking In 2” — Artist Statement (Jim Andrews):  I’ve been rethinking my relationship with video. At this point, it’s one of several media and art forms that I work with in a single project. The Aleph Null 4.0 art projects I create almost always involve an experience inside Aleph Null 4.0 itself. This is a never-quite-the-same-twice experience of generative art. The animation spends most of its time becoming. Whereas the slideshows of selected screenshots show things fully arrived, fully there. Completely. And then there’s the matter of video in Aleph Null 4.0 projects. Videopoems such as Checking In and Checking In 2  have moved from quick documentation of what anyone could generate in Aleph Null 4.0 to things created not only in Aleph Null but also in a video editing program such as Camtasia or Da Vinci Resolve. And a bitmap editer such as Gimp or Photoshop. And possibly a sound editer such as Audacity. When coding is involved, I use VScode. When the results are most interesting, they couldn’t be done in any one of these programs alone. They’re strongly intermedial. Among various arts and media. The best of my video work builds on the Aleph Null experience. Far from replacing the interactive art/media I create, video works well in concert with it. They feed into one another in a work flow that provides a multitude of experiences and perspectives on the material. The Aleph Null, never-quite-the-same-twice experience is protean, like a babbling brook. The slideshows are of solid stills fully realized in their moment, like studied photos or paintings. The videos involving Aleph Null range from documentation to fully realized works of art such as  Checking In 2.  Some of the Aleph Null 4.0 videos are strictly documentation, recordings of things that anyone, given some luck, might create themselves in Aleph Null 4.0. The look, anyway, if not the text. But I spent several months of work on the videopoem of Checking In 2. I got to know the poem quite well, consequently. I read it repeatedly. In shards. I put the shards together. Figuratively. I began to think in Checking Inisms. When someone on Facebook opined that “chatGPT and associated AIs will do for literature what photography did for painting”, I saw it could be but slightly twisted into a Checking Inism: “AI is doing for literature what photography did for painting.” Or, better: “AI says it’s doing for literature what photography did for painting.” And when the poem said “Minute Maid is taking minutes”, I wanted to add “and having seconds”. When you immerse yourself in, say, The Fairie Queene, it isn’t long before you begin to think in Spenserian stanzas. When you read Checking In 2, you begin to reshape what you hear and read into the forms that Checking In so playfully sets up in one’s head. That’s the sign of a pretty interesting poem, I’d say. It reconfigures your world view.

About The Author

Jim Andrews

Jim Andrews has been publishing since 1996. It is the center of his work as a writer, poet, programmer, visual artist, audio artist, and net artist.