This haunting narrative about a summer vacation turned tragic uses a slim strip of moving images as the background for a stream of language flowing from right to left as a series of voices tell a piece of the story. The sound of waves on the shore serve as a soothing aural backdrop to each character’s whispered voices, perhaps suggestive of what happens when the sea raises its voice. Each character involved with the tragic turn of events brings a different perspective to the situation, yet they are all so involved in their own affairs, much like the ending of Robert Frost’s poem “Out, Out.” In the final lines of the poem, as the speaker (whisperer) seeks to tie up the events in a neat little package that can provide closure, we realize that closure eludes all the characters in the story, who must continue to live on haunted by their memories and regrets.
In this piece, Bigelow distills a series of messages that overtly (or covertly) came from the Bush administration after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The messages are delivered as short videos, one word at a time, interspersed and juxtaposed with images that illustrate their disturbing subtexts.
With this poem, Bigelow’s flair for satirical humor is aimed at the world of presidential politics. Our speaker is a president who transformed the world through a series of measures in the areas of international relations, economics, health care, information science, language, race, government, and more. The measures and their outcomes were simultaneously idealistic, absurd, funny, critical, and surprisingly achievable.
This work consists of 4 anagram poems derived from The Lord’s Prayer that re-focus the prayer for artistic and humanist purposes. One could also read this as two texts: the prayer, Bigelow’s anagram poem, and three intermediate stages as they morph from one to the next. Each poem has its own distinct visual and aural background: the prayer is placed over an image of Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene in the famous “noli me tangere” (do not touch me) scene, and Bigelow’s anagram is placed over Polly Little’s “After the Fall” painting. Every time the reader “shakes” the piece, the words move part of the way towards their position in the final poem, and the visual and musical works become superposed with varying levels of transparency and volume. These intermediate stages offer texts worth paying attention to because they use the cut-up method to provide insight on the language of the Lord’s Prayer, preparing the reader for the anagram poem at the end. In the same way, the overlay of the images are enhanced by a graphical match cut to highlight the similarity of their structure and power relations between figures.
In other words: read individually, these works are clever, but read holistically they resonate.
This poem is all about layering: words from a line randomly appear over a mask that obscures an image over words over a background. The “ink” for these words are simply spaces on that mask that allow the reader to see the image beneath and the image is revealed more as the density of randomly positioned words increases. At the same time each line contains a audio reading playing on an endless loop. Selecting icons triggers lines, stacking and remixing all the sounds, creating new phrases from the combinations.
As you read these often hilarious statements, think about what they are saying about our speaker. What do they reveal about him? Why is he even telling you these things about himself? You’ll have to erase him to know the answer to one of these questions.
This subtly haunting poem tells the story of how each letter from the alphabet disappeared, or was made to disappear, by corporations obeying a secret agenda. The conspiracy theory overtones are underscored by the use of sound, a short loop of metallic whispering wind or water and a handful of soft musical notes. Clicking on each letter on the left hand column will take you to the corresponding letter and narrative of its disappearance, with the large letter disappearing as you read the accompanying text, but it also starts a slower, almost imperceptible, fading process of those letters in the entire work. If you click through quickly and read the whole poem you may not even notice, but step away for a minute and you’ll find that the letters you have read have disappeared from all the language in the poem and the result may be challenging to read (see image below). This more than anything provides a visceral impact, as we try to read a barely functional language mutilated by loss of letters.