Rig Veda – Christina Shah

VR Media is pleased to offer another in our series of video poems, visual adaptations of the work of local poets. The first ones we did featured the work of Liz Bachinsky (Nails and Lions Gate Bridge). Then we did several pieces from Catherine Owen’s The River System (currently viewable on our YouTube channel). This latest offering is a piece I did with Christina Shah after reading her work in EVENT magazine. The title struck me first, rig veda. What is that? It seemed a good fit on several levels so we arranged to nail down a location that reflected the setting and I got down to improvising, guided by the text and conversations we’d had around visual treatment. I added a subtle pulse underneath using a fretless bass and Strymon effects unit. We recorded Christina reading and I adjusted the pitch down just a hair to give it just a bit of “off-ness” in post. Otherwise I just cut it (or, rather, dissolved it) to the feel and mood I got from both the text and footage from the job site down by the “River District.”

Christina Shah on the work:

‘rig veda’ explores the shift in the urban landscape along the Fraser River delta (Vancouver, Canada) from a surprising perspective– up close and personal with the people and the massive earthmoving equipment involved in its transformation.

This area is transitioning from farmland and working river dotted with log booms and sawmills to a modern waterway studded with concrete and glass condos and light industrial business parks.

I work in heavy industry – and have great appreciation for the sheer size and power of the big rigs, for the energy and generosity of the people I’ve worked with, and for the skill it takes to do deep foundation drilling. I wanted to portray the humanity and pride of the contractors and construction workers who build these projects. At the same time, I feel some ambivalence as I observe the rapidly densifying landscape (and attendant traffic) in the neighbourhood I call home – one that used to have vacant tracts of land rife with fireweed and blackberry canes, and where I have spotted coyotes trotting along the train tracks at dusk.’

It’s been a pleasure to work with Christina and we hope you enjoy the video. EVENT is a partner publication and the link to their homepage can be found in the sidebar. Stay tuned for more of these projects!