Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Had a meeting in London today concerning a commercial I'm going to be working on over the next few weeks (more about that when it goes on air). Had quite a wait for my train home so I went shopping and bought some Sigur Rós (Ágætis byrjun (An Alright Start), and (); I would love to do a music video for any one of their songs) and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (an apt time for it I suppose). The album () uses Vonlenska (Hopelandic), which is a constructed language created by the lead singer, Jón Þór Birgisson. It's not an actual language, it's simply gibberish that emphasizes the vocal's place as another instrument in the composition.

I'm half Polish and bilingual... though I don't speak it that much anymore, I still dream and think in Polish from time to time. I was never formally educated in Poland so I don't read or write it (I can read a little, but that's mostly down to the fact that the language is relatively phonetic in that it's written how you would speak it, unlike English). When I was a child, in England I was recognized as being Polish (once people found out I was half Polish) and in Poland I was recognized as being English (once people found out I was half English). Which made me feel as though my sense of cultural identity was alien to both. In the early nineties I was a builder working in the south of France with French builders who didn't speak a word of English (and I didn't speak a word of French). We would have conversations non the less, finding consistent familiarities in both our worlds to such a degree that by the end of my stay there we were able to understand one another without having to speak one another's language. I was 'foreign' there. Not English, nor Polish. It was comforting then to be referred to not as English nor Polish. I was neither. I was just me. So, I guess the songs of Sigur Rós, in their Vonlenska babel speak volumes to me for that reason. Their songs remind me of the conversations I used to have in France. Of waking up atop a building site overlooking the Ardèche valley and going for a swim in the river after work each day.

When I was at University, this is after being a builder in France (I was also a candlestick maker once! though never a butcher nor baker, tinker nor tailor, soldier nor spy), I made a few films on my animation course. For the most part my animation was silent (as in no dialog). When asked if I would make a film with dialog I opted to make it in French. The film was called "Mon Frère Raoul la Tortue" (My Brother Raoul the Turtle), a story about fratricide and understanding or misunderstanding. I think my time in France and my experiences of communicating without speaking someone's language most certainly prompted this. Grimmwood, it should come as no surprise, has no dialog in it, though the suggested language is German.

Also, whilst in London, I visited GOSH! which now stocks a wonderful collection of Golden books.

The return train journey afforded me the time to work on some roughs for a comic strip I'm drawing which has been written by Selina Lock. I am quite excited as the story is great and it'll allow me to try out a few things in color that I've been meaning to try out for a while now.


dragonhead said...

Wow! That was a beautiful video. I've added that CD to my wish list.

That must have been very interesting trying to communicate with someone not knowing their language for the first time.

"I was also a candlestick maker once! though never a butcher nor baker" LOL! I haven't heard that rhyme in years.

(just as a side note, my former username was Dragonheadthing then Something, and now just did some account thing so now my username should display as dragonhead)

I. N. J. Culbard said...

Great, isn't it? There's another video of their's up on YouTube with another song from their album, "Takk", called Hoppipolla. Well worth checking out.

Piotr said...

i love sigur rós! and its awesome to find another polish artist! :P

I. N. J. Culbard said...

Hello and welcome to Strange Planet, Piotr.