Music MusicologyPoetry Gallery


Pixel Revolution Video

Video showing the Gloucester MA presentation of a still exhibit and a cinema performance of cutting edge visual music animations - Summer 2014




Music, poetry, and images by Otto Laske
Duration 14:16 min., 2012

TreeLink from Otto Laske on Vimeo.

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,
more certain,
more luminous.

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.


Farewell to Los Angeles

Music, poetry, and images by Otto Laske
Duration 12:20 min., 2012


Farewell to Los Angeles is based on my reading of a poem of the same title (1979) which I embedded in selections from three pieces of my electronic music repertory. As a composition, the music stands on its own. It is part of a large compositional oeuvre that can be found on, specifically the compositions "Message to the Messiah", "In Memory", and "Trilogy" (Erwachen, Ganymed), composed between 1978 and 2001.

The video itself comprises six sections; it combines images, spoken poetry, and music. The design of the video follows the stanzas of the poem as carried by the music, assiduously referencing the structure of the music. The images worked from are themselves collages that morph into each other; all of them are taken from the internet and enriched in Studio Artist.

Esthetically, the video strives to render the poem in its fullness (video poetry). The poem achieves its ultimate form as a film accompanied by speech carried by music, -- a little "Gesammtkunstwerk" of the 21st century.

The central topic of Farewell is the human condition of living with love, loss and departure, seen as the seeding source of poetry. Poetry is conceived as a “release of words in silent innuendos” that has the power of the sea. This is conveyed in the video by the spoken text, as well as the wind-scattered words, of its central section. From a musical perspective, the video might be said to be in the tradition of German Lieder, whose source is Franz Schubert (1797-1828).

The film is dedicated to Nadine Boughton. Dennis Miller was a wonderful mentor in coping with some of the big technical difficulties encountered.

-- Otto Laske, 1979 --


Visual Music by Otto Laske (2011)
8:15 min.

Coves from Otto Laske on Vimeo.

Coves is an animation in three parts, based on a sound track derived from my electronic music "Being and Nothingness" of 2009. The title refers to pictures I have taken of 4 of the numerous Cape Ann coves around Gloucester, MA, specifically Lanesville and Pigeon Cove, with Halibut Point a recurring motif. The many storms these coves have seen, the number of fishermen lost at sea and the mix of promise and threat of a life dependent on the sea contributed to my sense of what these coves stand for and have to tell me.

Section 1 is built around the dialectic of forces moving against each other, however gradually, and their overlay and interpenetration. Section 2 highlights the internal conflict of these moving forces, physical and psychological. Section 3 at first shows continuing upheaval but eventually moves into a tenuous and dubious calm. Sea landscapes intermingle with intimations of humanoid shapes: rock, wave, and rapidly changing sky appear throughout.

The piece is dedicated to Dennis Miller who generously accompanied me from absolute beginner in animation to this first piece.