Much to my delight, the video I made with Tasos Sagris and Whodoes, The Life We Live Is Not Life Itself won the Avant-Garde prize for the top film in Fotogenia 3 international festival of video poetry and divergent narratives, held in Mexico City 24-27 over November 2021. The whole festival was a magnificent feast of diverse forms and voices. The finalist list included some of the best videos I’ve ever seen. So to come out on top is incredibly humbling. Massive thanks to Tasos Sagris and Whodoes for entrusting me with their fantastic words and music and the Institute for Experimental Arts in Athens for supporting the project.
The video was a major technical challenge that developed out of the collaborative nature of the work. Capturing the feeling of Tasos’ poem and the mood of Whodoes’ music required careful scripting. Nearly all of the footage was taken specifically for this project. An important part of the video includes a series of animated faces that were derived from a library of source images generated by artificial intelligence. Nearly every scene is composited from multiple sources – with a few exceptions, none of the scenes exists at they look here in real life. The irony is that the real people, observed going about their business, often appear twice in the same scene, side by side, or following themselves. The AI generated faces watch on from window and picture frames. Is this the life we live? Are these the people we meet again and again? Who can decide between the imaginary and the real as we traverse a world full of conflicting desires, politics, dreams?
One of the judges, esteemed video poet, curator and author, Sarah Tremlett, had this to say: “A big yay for Ian Gibbins and Tasos Sagris winning the DELLUC / Avant Garde award at FOTOGENIA! I really enjoyed being one of the judges judging the finalists of this important award. The Life we Live is not Life Itself, is a huge technical achievement that complements and extends the pathos /political integrity of the poem. A wholly constructed alien world where the sea sits at the end of a narrow passageway and faces on adverts slowly change. How can we live authentic lives when ‘society’ is built by anonymous often ethically unaccountable corporations? Society, we have learnt is out of our control, yet something the man in the street also pays for (in both senses of the word)? and yet humans still say ‘we’, still believe in a just society. Thank you for this wonderful poetry film that speaks volumes!”
Meanwhile, the video has screened as offical selections in the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival (Berlin, 25-28 November, 2021); 18th Annual Another Hole in the Head Film Festival (San Francisco, December, 2021); Fonland International Festival of Video Art and Performance (Coimbra, Portugal, November, 2021); 6th Trujillo International Independent Film Festival (Peru, 23-26 September, 2021); 2021 International Screening of Experimental Films and Videopoems TRANÅS AT THE FRINGE (Tranås, Sweden, 16-24 October, 2021); Nahui Ollin Film Festival 2021 (Durango, Mexico, August – September, 2021); 9th International Video Poetry Festival (Athens, June, 2021); Vesuvius International Film Festival XVI (Italy, 2021).