Roda Lume by E. M. de Melo e Castro

Open “Roda Lume” by E. M. de Melo e Castro

E. M. de Melo e Castro has written poetry in different physical media – in the same way as “peso pesado do átomo” [atom’s heavy weight] (Castro 2006) – such as paper, textiles, canvas, wood, metal, stone, plastic, early opting for a dematerialization of word and image, something that became apparent, from the outset, in the pioneering videopoem Roda Lume [Wheel of Fire] (1968). This dematerialization of the artwork was taken as a guideline for the retrospective exhibition “O Caminho do Leve” [The Way to Lightness] (2006) at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, in Porto. Melo e Castro states:

When I began using video technology to produce my first videopoem, Roda Lume (Wheel of Fire), in 1968, I did not know where the limits were and where my experiments would take me. I was really experimenting on the most elementary meaning of the word experience. A sense of fascination and adventure told me that the letters and the signs standing still on the page could gain actual movement of their own. The words and the letters could at last be free, creating their own space. (2007: 176)

Roda Lume is a 2’ 43’’ videopoem, which was broadcast by the Rádio Televisão Portuguesa (RTP) in 1969 and subsequently destroyed by the station itself, and was reenacted by Melo e Castro from the original storyboard in 1986. The work is indeed surprising, as a poem that overlaps text, kinetic text, image, moving image and sound, anticipating and influencing various genres of digital hypermedia poetry mainly launched after the birth of the World Wide Web. It constructs a different notion of space-time, opening a “visual time” (Melo e Castro 1993: 238) of unfolding images and text that comprises a new reading perception.

Read more about this work at: