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"Transitioning Nobodies”

By Olivia Harris

Video Link: "I'm Nobody"

Rather than creating a hardcopy image that abided by the 10 x 14 size limit, I chose to create a stop-motion video for Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody”, so that multiple images could be viewed together. Much like the periodicals studied throughout the term, my video combines individual pieces within a larger work; the image of Emily Dickinson, her poem, and the skull drawings are all isolated objects that are used together to comprise the final work. A video allowed for the use of these images as their own separate pieces, meaning they could exist as independent items within a larger object.

The stop-motion medium also presented the opportunity for transitions between image frames. Just as human identity transitions over time, so do the images in this work. This poem celebrates the “Nobody” identity and creates a new realm of belonging through this character title. The term “nobody” implies a lack of identity or connection to others, yet there are a “pair” of nobodies in the poem, suggesting a unification of isolated entities. This is reflected in the use of multiple images within the video, the doubled image of Emily Dickinson, and the two skulls side-by-side. The skulls are meant to represent a lack of identity, since they possess few defining features to separate one skull from the other – only lines and dots drawn within the orifices.

My main motivation for using Emily Dickinson’s poem “I’m Nobody” is based in its succinctness. The brevity of this work (and numerous other works by this poet) fosters the sense of isolation which the opening line conveys. As for the poem’s inclusion in the video, the Typewriter font offered a legible but rustic touch to the text that acts to offset the modern video format. Although it would have been ideal to use handwritten font imitating the facsimile documents of Emily Dickinson’s original poems, for the sake of readability in a video that involves jarring movements, handwriting felt too taxing on the eyes.

The music for this project was generously provided by two Toronto musicians, Kaan Gunesberk and Emmett O’Reilly. The melancholic tone of the song hopefully helps to emphasize the somber position created in the poem, as well as the atmosphere of despair generally highlighted in this video project.