The Reading Series: Tao Lin and Ellen Frances

Ellen Frances' video based on Tao Lin's poem "when i leave this place," first published in cognitive-behavioral therapy (Melville House, 2008), opens with two gloved hands inspecting a purse. The gloves seem necessary, like they belong to an investigator. The contents of the purse are placed on the table, just ordinary objects. Then Frances shows us a bird in a cage, a view from inside an apartment building, and flowers in a vase. Living things conveniently trapped inside other things. Finally, Lin's poem begins: "the distances i have described in my poems / will expand to find me / but they will never find me." Traversing these distances is a transformative process from one state of being into another, where even reality becomes alien. The speaker introduces the absent subject in the poem--the you, whose face hits the speaker's face "at the speed of light." The speaker addresses you: "i want to cross an enormous distance with you / to learn the wisdom of lonely animals with low IQs." Even in this new world we have familiar bits of reality: animals, loneliness, wisdom. This is an invitation, a frontier, an outlined path to a new place. Just like the objects in the purse are removed in order to move forward, the speaker and you leave themselves behind, changing into something different, something unrecognizable. Escaping reality could be okay, even necessary at times, but the speaker wants to keep the memory of you: "I want to remember you as a river / with a flower on it." Rivers are gifs of nature: always moving. This constantly moving form links the speaker back to a semblance of familiarity, a place where reality and fantasy coexist. 

Tao Lin is the author of Taipei (Vintage, 2013) & six other books. He may be followed on Twitter here.

Ellen Frances is an American artist and director. She is the founder of ORB Pictures, a production company based in New York City.

Her work includes projects for: The International 3D Society, Ultra Records, Sub Pop Records, Erstwhile Records UK, Hardly Art Records, Universal/Republic Records, Atlantic Records/WME, Jason Lescalleet, CREEP, Kimberly Ovitz and more . Her fine art/experimental videos have been shown at several small downtown galleries, including Envoy Gallery, in New York City.

Recently, Ellen has sat on panels to discuss creativity, collaboration and art & commerce for SVA, NY Photo Fest and Maker Magazine. She has guest lectured in career courses at SVA and in the fall of 2013 IMVDb profiled her in a "Behind The Scenes" episode. Her work has been featured on VICE, VH1, Complex Magazine, NME, Creativity Magazine, Impose Magazine, Logo, Mtv, Stereogum, The Huffington Post, HTML Giant, NYLON, Interview Magazine and more.