Cover video by Dana Ambrose.
Dana Ambrose is a videographer, video editor, and photographer based in Vermont. As a visual artist he searches for raw, authentic moments to inspire story and creativity. He discerns and plays with visual expectancy as post production is moiety of his artistic process. Dana graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in marketing, and works as a marketer for an architectural firm in Stowe, Vermont.
Reflections:Shawn Corey: "The whole experience was really lovely."
The whole experience was really lovely. The community that was created around one phrase/each other’s pieces was really amazing and a really fun experience to be a part of! To see how people perceived my poem and responded to it was really heartwarming.
Devin Alejandro-Wilder: "I wonder what he would say if he knew that I barely understand this language either."
In viewing the project as a whole, I was curious to observe how the two ‘paths’ within the work compared in subject, media, and mood- as they flowed parallel to each other but both from the same first mouth. As I witnessed the contrasting and complimentary images throughout the issue, I found myself surprised by the literal interpretations of the word ‘root’. Having received work that appeared to be exploring a more abstract or conceptual translation of the word and feeling naturally compelled to do the same, I found that this process of de- and reconstruction only reinforced and pushed that impulse.
While I was completely consumed in my creation process amongst snapshots of dogwood, the low hum of my projector, and wet gold paint, I admit that I did not consider how my piece would be received or what would come after. Seeing what did, I was grateful for the continuation of putting the disembodied on display. And reading what was written, from the translator who felt his gaze leaning on the torso for clues, I wonder what he would say if he knew that I barely understand this language either. In learning to speak – the echoes inform. Though it was the shortest amount of words given of any response, I was grateful for every one.
More than anything, seeing the sequences of translations cultivated a sense of community and continuity like nothing that I’ve experienced before. Having felt so removed from an artist group, this was a chance for me to create something, with beautiful strangers, with artists I already admired. Initially, our labors were secret labors, separate but yet so connected. And then these labors came together to form an astounding arrangement.
I often write about the body—the female body, the disabled body, the body in trauma—and I was surprised to see how different iterations of the body were repeated throughout each piece. I saw it as a reflection of our societal preoccupations at the moment—bodies under control, bodies in danger. And these translations were a way to recognize and honor these bodies. With my poem coming at the end of one of the roots, it was humbling to see all of the forms that this translation took before reaching my 'Ars Poetica with a Galaxy in It.' This sequence was a performance of how deeply personal translations are. We bring ourselves into translations. We bring our bodies. I feel privileged to have lent my body to the magic that collaboration can birth.
Wylie Garcia: "The visual and verbal similarities were uncanny."
Seeing the piece as a whole was beautiful. The nuances of interpretation were little threads that I was originally skeptical could be carried over from piece to piece, but in the end the visual and verbal similarities were uncanny, especially when so much changed in the middle of the transmission from beginning to end. On pathway B especially, Rene and I were mesmerized at the visual metaphor that was mirrored between my piece and her piece with liquid/fluid substance being a visual focal point.
In response to finding out that I interpreted Shawn Corey's poem and that J. Turk interpreted my sound/film I was speechless because I connect creatively on a personal level to both of their work respectively. I didn't realize it at the time but Shawn's poem was the keystone to the whole process and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to try to visually express what the poem meant to me. When I saw J. Turk's response to my own piece I was humbled. The interpretation felt so personal and vulnerable a communication through subtle changes of intention and uncertain gesture.
J. Turk: "Something, someone is born of a patching which is only recognized in final reflection."
For many years now, I have attempted to understand how bodies are born of language, how we function as socially fraught texts. Our bodies are written in languages we might never learn to speak. As I began writing for this issue, I found myself drawn to consider again my own textual body. Watching Wylie’s video, I saw in it so many feelings, collisions I held within my muscles. The synthetic soundtrack, its whispered voices conjured a series of connections, lines emerging between moments of light, the experience of which returned me to my experiences of shifting my own images within the mirror. The desire to communicate remains foundational, what is said less important than the feeling. How do you translate a feeling? So many of the pieces in this issue move through sensorial snapshots turning toward, away from, and through the body. Perhaps this reoccurrence is the result of our unifying theme, the root of language, affect, experience all return to a sense of embodiment. Video works deal with a sense of digital disembodiement, the breaking open of the image. Often in my writing, I try to collage together fragments and scattered lines into poems and essays resembling exquisite corpses, Frankenstein creations; this too feels akin to how we construct the illusion of selfhood. Like the various translations within this issue, something, someone is born of a patching which is only recognized in final reflection, looking back at all that has been drawn to the surface. I find myself thinking about the idea of what is lost in translation, any attempt to bring something foreign into your own tongue, or to express neatly. Looking at this issue, I am reminded of the beauty of gaps, the beauty of partial knowledge, and of what we gain, if not through translation, through the attempt at it.
Wren Kitz: "I cannot help but scratch my head and wonder 'what have I done?'"
For me, the most fascinating part of having a look at the final issue is zooming in slightly on how the music I made bridged between 2 incredibly different pieces of writing. Of course, every creative writer has their own unique style, but I cannot help but scratch my head and wonder 'what have I done?' Perhaps the natural tumult of a worrier's mind. A metaphorical musical bridge with islands of words on either side. I reassure myself that I have perhaps not altered the direction too, too much while looking at the titles; 'A Series of Treatments' and 'Under the Knife'.
Meeting the other artists in this issue and seeing who I had translated/who translated me felt bizarrely like meeting up with an old friend you haven't seen in ages, nerve-racking, mysterious, somehow comforting and nostalgic. I felt intertwined with the group while still somehow feeling far apart, in my own little world. The solitary act of making [becoming] all of a sudden shared and on display in a large group piece of work was a new experience for me and I am grateful to be able to reflect and feed my brain with the seemingly endless possibilities of ways to collaborate.
Renee Greenlee: "Bookended by that common element of organic light."
What stood out to me in Path B was how Wylie and I both responded with organic shapes and light-focused work— the beginning and end of the path. Even though the path encompassed different translations of response along the way, it was bookended by that common element of organic light.
Both paths represented the body in a way that surprised me. It was a common theme throughout, and it made me wonder about that stream of consciousness that connects us and allows us to go deeper. Is it the body that roots us in our existence and that’s why we all related to it in some way? The body is what we know; a tangible form of the everyday, lived, real experience that we can’t escape until death. It’s how we move through this world. I thought it was remarkable that this theme brought both paths together in a way, through all the different perspectives that were shared.
Seeing it all together is a reminder to me of how all of our brains work in amazing ways to develop responses based on our talents and experience of life, merging and diverting into distinct voices.