Poets 16:9

Video anthology of poetry in Western Switzerland

For wider audiences, poetry anthologies remain one of the most effective ways of exploring poetic works. The short format, its flow guided by a theme or form, along with a selection made by an informed editor, encourage the less intimidating discovery of the poetry practices of certain eras or cultures. In printed book form, anthologies have allowed the spread of various traditions in the West; these, however, were generally reduced to silent reading, which often deprived them of their oral, gestural, or ritual particularities. Today though, it would be difficult to draw up an anthology without taking performance – and even slam – into account. The video anthology of poetry in Western Switzerland lends itself particularly well to exploring current practices and can also serve as an archive of poets reading their works.

Technique

This anthology is based on sixteen videos produced by Nadejda Magnenat (filming and editing) and Antonio Rodriguez (concept and selection) in January of 2018 at the University of Lausanne (UNIL). Its limitation? The naked voice, in a basic setting, free of any pretence. Among the selection’s thirty authors, each poet had seven minutes’ time. The entire anthology is published for free on the poesieromande.ch website. 

Adapted for an exhibition, this series of videos aimed to show that large-format presentation could serve as an ideal medium. Our goal was to arrive at a final product with a power and quality that rivalled beautiful double-page printing. Given the anthology’s geographical unity, the screens evoke a Swiss flag  –  a cross on a red background – which media design truly unfurls. Indeed, it was important that the screen style correspond to that of ordinary screens today, generally in 16:9 format. Like beautiful paper, the range of NEC freeboard screens is generally used for advertisements in trade shows for the luxury, watchmaking, or perfume industries.

The Laboratory for Experimental Museology’s Patrick Donaldson produced the media design, directed by EPFL Professor, Sarah Kenderdine. The team had already worked together on the archives of the Montreux Jazz Festival. Particular attention was given to the videos’ interaction and distribution. It would have been possible to add the texts (and their translation) under the poets' videos, or even to zoom in on elements of the video itself.

Background

Over the course of a few days in January 2018, Nadejda Magnenat and Antonio Rodriguez shot just under thirty videos with established poets in Western Switzerland. This anthology stimulated great interest in the press  – notably in Le Temps  newspaper – which not only featured the launch but served as a springboard for the first two videos. Indeed, Narcisse’s split-screen, which enabled the embodiment of the lead voice and backing vocals in “Toi, tu te tais”, garnered more than 10,000 views in a single weekend. First posted on the poesieromande.ch website from March 2018 to April 2019, these videos have been viewed over 35,000 times to date. While not claiming that each click corresponds to a full viewing, the sheer extent of reach via the internet certainly reflects modern digital relationships. Now, video anthology has found a multimedia structure that best carries it and allows collective public viewing, with impressive effects and sharing options.

Concept:
Antonio Rodriguez, UNIL 

Video production:
Nadejda Magnenat, FNS / UNIL 
David Monti, UNIL

Media Design:
Patrick A. Donaldson 

Sponsor:
Sarah Kenderdine, EPFL 

Programme development:
Nikolaus Voelzow 

Scenography:
David Deppierraz Construction:
Denis Correvon

 

References:

1        First edition of the anthology: Antonio Rodriguez, Nadejda Magnenat (Dir.), Anthologie vidéo de la poésie en Suisse romande, online, University of Lausanne, 2018–2019.
2        Lisbeth Koutchoumoff, "Trente poètes romands face camera”, Le Temps, 10 March, 2018.
3        Michel Murat, Les anthologies de la poésie française d'André Gide et Marcel Arland, in the framework of "Anthologies d’écrivains", 2006.