Music, Poetry, and Images by Otto Laske
Duration 14:16 minutes
TreeLink is based on my reading of my own poem of the same name, written in 1979 and integrated into electronic concert music by me in 1992. The animation adds another layer of reading not found in the original musical composition. It uses collages made by me based on images by Michael Rhoades and Sylvia Pengilly (both composers as well as visual artists), as well as collages made from photographic renditions of works by glass artist Crispian Heath.
The topic of the TreeLink is aging, metaphorically addressed by reference to a particular wooded location near a former residence of mine in Needham, Massachusetts, USA. The topic is treated both narratively and visually in five sections that present a resolution of the experience of aging.
The spoken text, in the music at times overlaid with itself, and also distorted at times, comprises six stanzas of unequal size:
Evening light is weighing down
on the playground oaks and maples
early this wintry day.
Here, in the snow-soft meadow,
I have stood before, happier,
not noticing the weight
in the trees, when the sun sank
to close the afternoon.
The trees have aged.
I suddenly know
they were always aching
under the heavy light.
Afternoon hides below the grass,
a raven descends, and the wind
takes years off the branches,
shifting them to my shoulders.
I return weighed down,
The first 2 stanzas are distributed throughout the first two sections of the animation.
The single-line stanza 3 is at the center of section 3, emphasizing the central topic. Section 4 puts the emphasis on stanzas 4 as well as 5, while the last (6th) stanza is reserved for the concluding section.
My use of collages in this animation is intentionally “painterly”. The movement of the images is closely allied with the flow of sound energy, and it is this alignment that, for me, is a must in “visual music”.
Collages using Pengilly’s images dominate section 4, while Rhoades’ images, derived from his oil paintings, and Heath’s photographic glass work images are seen, more or less identifiably, in almost every section. Hybrid images are frequent throughout.
I want to thank the contributing artists mentioned above for giving me permission to use their work.