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The Man with the Kindest Face
The rear-view glimpse is fleeting
as he lets you into the lane.
He might not have a face at all
or change it like a set of masks—
behind a newspaper in the waiting room,
sliding over to make room on the bus.
You resolve next time to look at him,
risk letting him look back at you.
You taste the salt in your throat,
and you hear him ask, What’s wrong?
You smile at him and say, Nothing.
And you mean it. Nothing at all.
The man with the kindest face has change for a twenty
He doesn’t look rich. Yet his pockets overflow with coins. “How much do you need?” he asks, and you tell him. You want to tell him more—-that you need to believe, understand, be heard. He extends his closed hand like a magician. You expect nothing. You expect a dove to fly out from his sleeve. You open your hand, beneath his, and wait.
The poem is a splice of the first poem that opens my new collection Cyclone and one of the many poems featuring the same figure that recurs throughout the collection. The film is footage from the Prelinger Archives, which I projected cylindrically into a 3D rendering environment (Blender), rotating the camera to give a continuous scroll effect. I then sliced and flipped this, giving the Rorschach-test-like effect of imagery spilling out from the midline. We then projected this footage onto the face of our friend and actor Barney Wells with a sheet behind him and filmed it. Valerie once again composed and performed the music, and from there it all came together quite quickly in the editing process.
Our recent film-poem collaboration “One Stop” was nominated for best music/sound at Liberated Words III in Bristol, where it premiered. The original soundtrack was composed and performed by Valerie Kampmeier. The film commemorates the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Do you remember beach-combing
for three-oh-three shells,
our little Easter-egg hunt
for exploding chocolate?
I think of you whenever
I snap the pill box shut.
You called our ride in a Higgins
boat "one stop on a busy tube."
We breathed through our helmets,
begging the spume to ricochet,
then leapt the ditch toward freedom
and cleared the snarling wire.
So this is freedom. This side
contains the same amount
of nitrogen in the air.
We won the race with our fists,
hands down, sound bananas.
What was it all for, Charlie?
Nineteen more minutes of linked
hands and holy prayers
to that bombshell divinity?
How do we know this road
leads back to the invisible base?
Go first. I'm right behind you.
I sourced archival colour footage of WWII, and composited this into an animation that I created using Blender 3D. I recorded journeys on the tube with an X1 Zoom, and mixed this under Valerie's music and my voice reading the poem.
In dreams, I am convinced
I have always been able to fly —
the updraft from the cliff
will catch me like my mother
when I launched from the stairs
on a bird-brained impulse,
avian memory, invincible faith.
Airline rituals reassure me —
the act is routine ad tedium —
tyres drift up off the tarmac,
metal wings skate the air.
“Falling doesn’t hurt,” we joke,
“it’s hitting the ground.”
So I fall, and fall into myself,
gasping awake on a feather bed.
Larks slice through the dawn,
and part of me goes with them,
diving toward the updrafts,
hoping, mid-air, to be caught.
I had a feeling of the kind of film-poem I wanted to create here, something about flight. I used Blender to render a flock of birds and then composited them together with historic aviation footage from the Prelinger Archives. The poem wrote itself after that, and Valerie’s piano accompaniment followed. We also recorded birdsong on an H1 Zoom and looped it to create a backdrop of sound.
My sister asked me to design the logo for her website. Her vision: a woman in warrior pose holding a lotus in her upturned palm. My immediate thought: why not use Blender? After all, I had some success playing with existing logos earlier.
An enduring logo has to work in print, be quickly recognizable, and turn out well in just two colors. That means anything done in 3D must translate well to 2D. But because Blender is such a great tool with so many useful plug-ins, it acutally turned out to be an ideal starting point for this rather complex design.
I have recently been enjoying working on modelling and rigging a cat in Blender. The challenges are manifold: from realistic fur to simulating quadruped movement to combining complex actions into a believable animal. The process has been very satisfying so far, as I am making good use of Blender’s non-linear action editor and learning a lot about character animation in the process. Here is an early, rough sample of a transition between walking (left two; right two) to trotting (front left, back right; back left, front right):
Thanks to Legaz’s great Blender/QTVR Tutorial, I was able to make my first QTVR movie using Blender. I wanted to create a useful reference for future QTVR movies in Blender, so I created a scene with a camera inside a cube and reference numbers in front of each wall. The camera rotates from frames 1-6 to face walls 1-6, thereby making it easy to render the necessary images for MakeCubic to create the VR movie. You can download the blender library file and reference movie here or here. Then simply import the Camera object from the .blend file (Objects->Camera) into your landscape or detailed interior scene, render frames 1-6, and feed them to MakeCubic. Works great!