Variations is a DVD / essay that features twelve Canadian sound and moving image artists, all reinterpreting Michael Snow’s Poem (1957). The selected artists used the work as a foundation, and the subjective nature of art gives both the music and the moving image a chance to shine. Thanks to these colourful interpretations, every single shot is a sweet reimagining.

Jaded clouds washed in a light pink move slowly across the sky. Static crawls around the side, itching at the music and representing a passing of the years, not to mention the slow deterioration and gradual ageing that goes along with it. These clouds are orbs of dust that have never been able to settle. The video itself is like that of an old VHS player; ghostly lines decorate the video, and the music falls prey to the destabilised image. Ambient in tone, the music is a beautiful glide that mirrors the air around it, riding the currents with ease. One moment vanishes, and a new one begins.

Evangeline Belzile’s collaboration with Ian William Craig is as fragile as a falling snowflake; the precious gem of a memory is captured before it disintegrates and melts in the hand (or loses itself in the labyrinths of the mind). As the years go by and the body deteriorates, the emotions of love and compassion stay strong, shining as they abide in the heart. The music and the moving image is close to breaking up and drifting apart, but it still remembers that fond look in her eyes.

Distance becomes ever more apparent…

A metronome swings back and forth, ticking on and on and on. A series of intermittent blips and bleeps stutter and pause, lighting up the music like a tiny constellation, but the music keeps on progressing. Some are as silent as a midnight breeze, while others are more bombastic and energetic; drums are in the middle of their workout, producing flares of sound as bright as a tainted splash of sunshine. Transfixed in the sky, the drums circle the star in a series of kaleidoscopic colours: cyan, blue, purple, pink and orange. Mazinani’s film brings the DVD into perspective, because the sounds and the images are especially vibrant and wonderfully diverse.

Just like an eternal sea, the music continues – it must continue. The stuttering seconds are precise pinpoints in time. Tints of light eclipse the leaves, and the daytime birds sing; every action has a subsequent reaction. The music itself is a distillation of a second, a minute, an hour and a day. Dislocated shots and fragmented memories hang around in the cluttered space of the mind, piled high on uneven shelves. A grainy piece of black and white footage gazes out at the sea. The motion and commotion has already taken place, and the past waves are imbued with an everlasting serenity. Experimental by nature – although some lean towards ambient – the artists evoke Poem and what it means to them in surprising ways.

You can’t escape the inescapable. Change is like an opening flower, or a falling snowflake, because, in this world, tomorrow will always melt away yesterday’s image.

It stayed
Where I saw it
Then it moved a fraction
To the left and then twice that
Distance again further and further

Then just faintly
A corner of it just a fraction
Was visible if you peered
Very very closely
And just as
It was

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