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By David Finkelstein | January 10, 2002

A brief “poetry video” to a text by Dadaist poet David Gascoyne, dating from the early 1900s. A series of nonsensical yet evocative relations between bodies and objects (“I have in my belly a little agricultural machine which weeps electric lights…”) are read by Marina Johnson in her lightly Swedish-accented English. A collage of graphic elements such as flowers, fish, and playing cards are mixed in stylish black and white to illustrate and comment on the text, while Michael Mourcade’s ambient music provides subtle continuity.

Minton’s illustrations of the poem are mostly flatly literal (showing a heart when the poem mentions a heart) but occasionally oblique (showing a woman sitting on a wall when the poem mentions “Alsations.”) Because the text itself is highly abstract and seeks to create a series of odd, unsettling sensations, this approach works well, opening the opaqueness of the text up with playful juxtapositions. Minton’s images have a stylish and polished sense of composition, evidence of his background in broadcast television.

Johnson’s delivery of the text strives appropriately for clarity, but lacks energy. The rhythm of the images is a bit monotonous and leaden, since it follows closely the rhythm of Johnson’s voice. The extreme brevity of the piece allows it to be a light, fragile glimpse into a playfully nonsensical world, but at the same time prevents us from having an experience of more substance.

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