June 27, 2007
Given the way in which W.G. Sebald combined text and images in his books, it was inevitable that he would somehow make his way onto YouTube. Recently, two short videos about him have been posted. The first is by Nordica Libros and serves as a short book promotion for Sin Contar (as Sebald’s book Unrecounted is called in Spanish). In a fairly rudimentary way it interweaves Jan Peter Tripp’s images and a few of Sebald’s poems into a kind of book tease with a spare piano accompaniment.
More ambitious is the “visual/verbal poem in memory of W.G. Sebald” by South African writer/artist Michael Cope called On Fire.For 9 minutes 59 seconds, the lines of Cope’s poem scroll upward across black and white still images and video clips. Cope’s somewhat haunting visual and verbal meditation on the Holocaust, terrorism, atomic bombs, and other destructive fires is interspersed with images and references to what appear to be his family. Both Cope’s poem and video struck me as simplistic for the opening moments, but as the minutes rolled by I realized that they were far more complex and effective than I could absorb in one viewing.