“The life we live is a series of illusions… a fleeting smile… mistaken decisions… dangerous, unpredictable… yet, we will meet again, as lovers… parents… children… and you will know who I am…”
It’s with immense pleasure that my most recent video The Life We Live Is Not Life Itself is now out and about as a selection for the 9th International Video Poetry Festival in Athens. This has been an inspirational collaboration with Greek poet Tasos Sagris and musician WhoDoes, both of whom I met at the 8th IVPF in Athens in 2019.
Tasos Sagris’s poem, with its haunting soundtrack by WhoDoes, offers us an extended exploration of lives lived in parallel, at cross-purposes, in and out of love, around the world, from the innocence of children to the wisdom of elders. There are the good times when summer seems to last forever, and the bad, when persecution and misadventure could land us in prison, with nothing but rain to hear our voice. But what is the reality? What is mere illusion? Can there be more to life than simply living?
The raw footage for the video was shot mainly in and around the city of Adelaide, its suburbs, the nearby Fleurieu Peninsula and Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, supplemented with images from around Greece. But nothing in the video is quite as it seems. Most scenes have been composited and animated from multiple sources. So we look down a city laneway and see friends walking along a beach. A derelict shed opens out onto a fairground, lit by mysterious warning flags. Storm clouds, ominously aglow, gather behind skylines. And after the rain, floodwater surges across plazas, covers the floors of ruined buildings.
Who inhabits these strange places? Whom will we meet there? Look carefully in the malls and side-streets: we can see our fellow walkers, and then, again, again… And in windows of city buildings, in old frames hung on walls of broken brick and cracked concrete, we see the faces of the young and old, the boys and girls, the men and women of our imagination, our desires, our reconstructed memories. As alluring as they seem, none of them is real. Rather, they are the product of artificial intelligence, trained on thousands of our fellow humans, and generated by cold, unfeeling algorithms.
No video can truly capture the inner thoughts that inspire a poet’s words. Instead, we can construct a world in which the real and unreal seamlessly merge, creating environments beyond day-to-day experience, yet somehow familiar, somehow recognisable as elements in the shared narratives of our lives.
Is this Life? Who amongst us is truly Living? Let’s see. And perhaps we will meet again … on another rainy afternoon… “like now, like now.”