Marja-Leena Rathje
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a collaboration


Yippee! Our collaborative project In Its Four Voices - Silent Messengers: Connecting with D'Amico #2 has been published on Qarrtsiluni, the online literary and visual art zine! Go see and LISTEN to it! Then come back....

I must tell you the story behind this international collaboration. First about the image. Artist Karen D'Amico** of London, UK, and I met and corresponded through our respective artist blogs. She mailed me about a dozen close-up photographs of rocks that she had taken, and offered these to use in my work as I wished. I chose five of them to create the prints called Silent Messengers: Connecting with D'Amico #1-5. Thus it became 'a borderless collaboration of sorts', as Karen commented.

Sometime earlier this year, blog friend and prolific writer and poet Tom Montag of Wisconsin, USA, expressed an interest in writing a poem inspired by one of my Silent Messenger pieces. Tom wrote a fairly long and thrilling piece based on his choice, Connecting with D'Amico #2. I am still astounded and awed that my work inspired this. In turn, I felt excited and inspired to find a way to make this into some kind of performance piece. With no experience in this and with the three of us in three different countries, a voice recording seemed the best possibility.

Around the same time Qarrtsiluni's editors decided that the theme for March and April would be Ekphrasis - 'poetry in dialogue with visual art'. Perfect.... except for the restriction to far fewer lines than Tom's poem has. We checked with the editors to see if they would consider an audio file. Yes, they replied and so, we pushed on.

I roped in my clever daughter Erika who had some experience with digital music recording. The challenge was to find four readers and capture their voices into one recording. My husband got drawn into this, a bit reluctantly, heh, to read the first voice. As Karen was too busy to participate at this time, Erika took her place as the second voice. And I read the third voice, that of the artist/marker, of course. Recording our voices here at home was physically easy enough, but Tom is in Wisconsin, you know. After a few trials, the best recording of Tom's reading of the fourth voice was over his phone into our computer with the aid of some special software and Skype (thanks to my husband's expertise here). Then Erika did all the intricate editing work on all the voices using Apple's Garage Band, not exactly the most professional program but giving us reasonably good results we think.

As Tom said, this is 'a collaboration of a collaboration across three countries and three media'. This project has been an exciting new venture for me, and for all of us, and I'm so thrilled with it. A huge thank you to Tom for the fabulous poem and his reading, to Karen again for the photos that inspired my work, to my husband for his voice and technical help, and to Erika for her voice, advice and skillful editing work! And a big thank you to all the editors of Qarrtsiluni for their excellent editing suggestions and for publishing this.

We hope you like it...

(Tom is away on vacation right now, but I hope he will write a few words about his poem on his blog when he gets back. I'll update with the link here when it happens.)

** Reedited March 15th, 2013 during a blog tidy-up: Karen has not been at this blog address for some years, so link has been removed. I have now quite accidentally found her new eponymous website: Karen Ay

Marja-Leena | 01/05/2007 | 9 comments
themes: Being an Artist, Other artists, Silent Messengers


Well, Marja-Leena. You have a voice to match the rich texture and complexity of your art. Thank you, all four of you.

I'm glad to hear the backstory - this clears up a couple things I'd been wondering about (what the exact nature of the collaboration was between you and Karen; whose voices were on the recording).

Bill, thank you!

Dave, I thought our adventures with the collaborations would be of interest. I had written about Karen's contribution on my blog previously but many readers may have missed it. And yes, the voices part needed some clarification. You know, you were one of my inspirations for doing an audio presentation!

I did enjoy that! I have to say it's still a novelty to receive audio so easily with still new broadband, but the poem was great, and lovely to hear your voice. Why did you decide not to have the text of the poem?

Lucy, glad you enjoyed it with your new broadband! I would have liked to have had the text as well, but Qarrtsiluni limited submissions to 30 lines. Maybe Tom and I should post it on our blogs sometime?

In a way, though, it is fascinating not to have a text, but only voice and image.

Bill, you're right - it's much more of a performance piece that way, isn't it?

An impressive collaboration; how lovely to hear your voice.

Anna, glad you think so. Now you've seen photos of me and heard my voice, so next I hope we meet...