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Maud 2000

"Come into the garden, Maud, For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the rose is blown."

Maud is a visionary interpretation of Alfred Tennyson's poem of the same name. The poem tells, in first person monologue, the story of a man's obsessive and unrequited love for a rich lord's daughter. Tennyson described his protagonist as ‘the heir of madness…raised to sanity by a pure and holy love…passing from the height of triumph to the lowest depth of misery, driven into madness by the loss of her whom he has loved.'

The video quotes a few short fragments from the poem, which together chart this descent from joyful anticipation into abject misery. This transition becomes a journey through intense emotion, manifest in the visual and aural reading of the landscape. The raw materials for the piece were collected in two very different landscapes. The first was a bush walk via a series of fishing pools near Taupo, New Zealand, in high summer. The second was a stretch of East Anglian woods and marshes in winter. The two contrasting locales and seasons loosely correspond to the two extremes of emotion expressed in the poem.

A formal unity is derived by interpreting both landscapes with a hand held camera, gestural, cyclic movements and a very slow digital shutter. This technique permits a highly painterly approach to the reading of each space. The poem is reinterpreted by echoing its narrative through empathic visual abstraction.

The soundtrack is largely composed of electro-acoustically treated fragments of the poem, deconstructing the words and syllables to generate a dense aural landscape with multiple resonances. Each spoken phrase, having first delivered its narrative intent, is recycled in many different ways to reveal its musical, rhythmic and concrete qualities.

Sianed Jones collaborates as performer and composer during the final seven minutes of the piece (not seen on the video). Her presence embodies the persona of Maud, as object of the protagonist's cloying and oppressive desire. She uses her extended vocal improvisational techniques with samples of her voice and violin, triggered from different parts of her Victorian costume.

"The deconstruction of the words creates a layered and echoing landscape of sound that makes the poem's intense emotions palpable..Maud appears on stage..behind her the sun can still be glimpsed. Like the tortured heart of the crazed man, the band of light twists before it turns into an empty shell and dies." Lies Holtrop WWVF 2000

The video is available as part of the Video Art 1997-2005 compilation.