A collection of poems with images, looking at one persons internal world.
CW Issues in the collection include low self-esteem, poor body image and dysthemia. This is a follow on video to 2017’s DULL NB: This video is designed to be listened to on headphones or earbuds. The sound is quiet, but there are no jump-scares. Below the video is more information about the project.
About Notes on Becoming a Ghost
Notes on Becoming a Ghost is a poetry/video project designed as a follow up project to DULL. The collection was launched in July 2021. The title refers to how the artist has noticed himself gradually receding from the world and almost deliberately becoming ‘invisible’. This collection is intended to be an honest illustration of the internal dialogue of the artist in the form of short poems that run on from one to another in a constant stream of thought. The collection does not shy away from themes of low-self esteem, poor body image and dysthemia. (chronic low level depression)
The writing employs the same simple matter-of-factness with no judgement or comment, as DULL, but is presented in the third person as if the voice is a separate entity to the artist and is narrating the artists thoughts. This deliberately distances the artist from the thoughts/words giving the impression that the thoughts/words are happening to him, and are not actually a part of him. It also places the reader or audience at a distance from the artist and they become observers of, or listeners to, his thoughts with no way of intervening.
Having the narrator whisper the poems and asking audience members to listen to the collection on headphones whilst watching the video, creates the impression that the voice could be inside the audiences heads, or that the narrator was standing close to the listeners and whispering secret information to them, both a treacherous and intimate act. This impression was enhanced by adding a quiet tonal track to the sound that shifts from right to left and back throughout the recording, as if the voice is speaking from a large, perhaps windy, void.
The video clips used in Notes on Becoming a Ghost consist of short clips filmed over years by the artist, new clips filmed especially for the project and royalty-free clips found on stock image websites. The clips were selected for their atmosphere of isolation, sense of otherness or feeling of introversion. Over these clips is a layer of gradually shifting ‘fog’, as if the clips are being seen through a filter that muddies them – further evidence of distancing or struggling to see the world clearly. The video also includes photographs of the artist himself at various ages.
Notes on Becoming a Ghost was launched in July 2021 via a Zoom event. The film was shown in it’s entirety and the audience were invited to comment or ask questions after the film.
Notes on Becoming a Ghost was conceived and created during the third Covid lockdown in the first half of 2021. Initially the idea was to create a video reflecting my lockdown experience and the boredom and isolation I felt having moved to a new town during the pandemic without the opportunity to get out and meet new people due to meeting restrictions. However it soon became apparent that the writing I had been doing was reflecting a long term general feeling of isolation, rather than just during lockdown, so I gathered poems written before lockdown that had a similar ‘outsider’ theme and edited and wove them to reflect a constant internal dialogue.
For many years I have been taking short video clips of random scenes with the intention of using them one day for something, so I gathered these all in one place along with the clips I had begun to film for the lockdown collection. I then filmed some close up images of my body to illustrate the body-image issues addressed by some of the poems and I scoured royalty-free video sites for short clips that could be used to add atmosphere and a sense of time’s inevitable passing. Once I thought I had enough clips I recorded the whispered vocal (all in one take!) and set about editing the videoclips together to fit the length of the sound recording. As with DULL, I wanted to add an element of random happenstance to the video. The order of the poems was set, but I wanted to introduce a little chance, as that can be where magic happens. I divided the length of the sound recording by the number of video clips and determined that each clip should be 15 seconds long (plus 2 seconds for transitions). I then numbered the videos and literally threw dice to select the video clip order. Once all of the videos were in place there were a couple of places where video clips seemed to be linked or too similar, so I changed their position in the order, however, there was no attempt to deliberately chose a video clip that ‘illustrated’ what was being said in the audio. I added a slowed down second video track of clouds over the clips and added a second audio track of the tones that shifted quietly behind the whispered voice. I then added titles.
In keeping with my desire to make things as DIY as possible, I used the free audio recording and editing software Audacity and the free, open source, video editing software Shotcut. For the videos I used my phone, a hand camcorder and the video function on my pocket digital camera.
This project took about 3 months in all to complete, from conception to launch, as I had the time to do it and was not relying on others to contribute.
As ever I can see how I could make the video better, more professional looking and could work on the writing further, but now the video is out there and has been seen, I will move on to my next project.
Notes on Becoming Ghost is also available in booklet form.
The booklet is printed on transparent overhead projector film and so all of the pages are ‘invisible’ but the words are visible, layered on top of each other like a palimpsest, although it’s possible, as you read the book, to reveal the poems underneath, or ‘peel back the layers’. At the beginning of the booklet the words and poems are indistinct as there are words upon words, but as you work your way through the booklet, the poems become more legible. This plays on the ideas of confusion, thoughts being difficult to read and jumbled, tumbling over each other like an internal dialogue, and the collection gradually disappearing, like a ghost, as you read it.
There are also simple paper copies of the booklet available by contacting the same email address.
Copies of the Notes on Becoming a Ghost pamphlets are available to buy. Please email email@example.com for more information
I absolutely loved your event. Dr Rosy Carrick. Poet, writer, translator
Your video is incredibly powerful and beautiful. John Osborne. Writer, radio presenter
... so gorgeous. really moving, beautifully shot. Max Lindsay. Theatre Director
Your poetry sharing last night was really, really beautiful. Paul Hewitt. Playwright
I was serious about how good it was (I really don’t tend to say stuff like that unless I mean it) Helen Seymour. poet and playwright
An incredible set of poems Ricky Tart. Poet, performer, singer/songwriter
I loved it, there’s so much to mull over and digest. found it really moving. Dillon Jaxx. poet
… really enjoyed it, such a powerful way of presenting your work! Gavin Urie. Poet
Thank you that was lovely & moving <3 Mary English. Songwriter
Thanks so much, that was moving and full of great meaningful and thought provoking statements. Loved it. 😀 Una Chadwick. Audience member