This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
“Bust Down the Doors!”, a videopoem by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, opens with a countdown, preparing the reader to the challenge he or she is about to encounter. Quick flashing words that compose the poem begin to blink in and out of the screen, daring the reader to catch each word properly and keep up to rhythm. The contrast of the black letters against a white background creates an almost hypnotizing pattern to this race. This format is repeated in all three different language versions, which are English, German, and French.
It recounts the events leading up to an abrupt execution witnessed by indifferent neighbors. The poem’s pronouns and narrative point of view shift every time it restarts. This leads readers to examine the situation as they might find themselves being surrounded by fellow captives, or in solitude, becoming captors, victims, or witnesses. This aids in the interpretation of each version, giving new meaning to each time the poem begins.
Each translation of the poem is accompanied by voiceless music, creating a mood for the poem. The English version of the poem features the song “Amuck” by Art Blakey, a percussion-intensive song that creates an almost suspense-like chase between the captors and the victims. The beating of the drums seems to intensify as the story progresses, reaching a definite ending with the ending of the victim(s)’s lives. As the drums intensify the words blink faster, preventing the reader from looking away, and enhancing the narrative tempo.
The mood of the German version of the poem differs from the English version because of the music featured in it. The background song is “Accommodate Him” (Nu Jazz Mix) by Leotone. Unlike “Amuck,” it does not create a suspenseful atmosphere. It could almost be seen as the lyrics to the song. It is one of misfortune and bad luck, but accompanied by upbeat sounding trumpets. The rhythm of the song also shifts, moving from quick and upbeat to slow and melancholic. If we are influenced by history in this poem, the traitors and the occurrences are similar to those lived in World War II. Those Germans that differed of Nazi ideals were considered to be “bad citizens” and traitors, who were executed by Nazi soldiers. This historical interpretation is almost ironic to the tone established by “Accommodate Him.”
Similarly to the English and German version, the French version features a song which matches “Amuck’s” speedy tempo and “Accommodate Him’s” upbeat rhythm. It still creates a race with the reader as the words seem to flash quicker each time they blink on the screen. However, the reader’s mood does not change to sadness because of the music, but rather because of the story. In all of the versions, the rapid pace of the music and narrative accentuate the irony of the victim’s final thoughts.
Initial impressions can vary depending on the version, but the unavoidable fate and repetitions, along with the variations, help us reexamine the work and how we build narratives in our minds. Its final loop humorously takes apart the narrative beyond the cohesion-promoting rules of grammar and semantics– and it is not to be missed.