Robin Cracknell's Subtitle Poetry

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Don’t Take Pictures features Robin Cracknell’s poems composed of reshuffled subtitles from foreign films in his series, Subtitled.

Robin Cracknell’s recent series, Subtitled, is a unique blend of text and imagery in which he produces enigmatic poetry from shuffled fragments of dialogue from foreign films. These poems are then printed over still images from different films. Using chance to determine how the dialogue is arranged, the film’s original context is transformed into one entirely different.

Cracknell extracts the subtitle files from foreign films and shuffle them Dada-esque to create strange, often melancholy short poems. The cinema images are paired with these poems through algorithms. Cracknell gravitates towards Chinese and Japanese films, with Tarkovsky and Bergman in there for good measure. He presents the film stills alongside notebook pages of longer poems made from subtitles. Typewritten, marked up, yellowed and torn, the notebook pages are Cracknell’s signature aesthetic.

In a 2017 interview with The Print Space, Cracknell says he enjoys this work because, “It has a defined starting point that belongs to someone else, which is a nice change from my own work which starts and ends with me. It also gets me to think about other characters and narratives which is a much-needed diversion from my daily recycling of my own ideas and narratives.”