The main thing with ASL poetry is you really don't need to know what's being said- in fact, most of that wasn't actual signing, just gestures and expressions. It's all about the visuals. As for what's actually going on, I know it involved the color red, seeds (probably being eaten by birds), seeds being pooped out, weather (including lightning), growth, warmth, and a host of other concepts jumbled into his moves in a stylized manner.
There really isn't any one way of translating an ASL poem anymore than someone can translate a painting or a dance performance. The more someone tells you what they think its about, the more they kinda ruin it.
There are a couple signs used, though. The sign he uses at the very beginning (hooked index finger touching the chin) means "red". Surprise, surprise. Its signed several times throughout, actually. For the first minute or so he's introducing us to the setting (I interpreted it as lots of land, with one really big tree), and at ~:57 the story starts to focus on a bird. The bird is characterized by flapping wings, and rather importantly, a hooked index finger held like a beak. The hooked index finger is the same handshape as is used in the sign "red", which is a common and clever device in ASL poetry.
At 2:33 he fingerspells "seed". Seems the bird has eaten one. A lot of ASL is in expression - the face of stomach distress at 3:04. The sign at 3:12 means "shitting", and with the expression we can take it to mean wet and nasty shitting.
The bird flies away at around 3:27. The seed falls deep into the ground at 3:34. Clouds start to move in at 3:39, and then it starts to rain. Lightning at 4:03, then finally the storm subsides and the clouds recede at 4:11. Sun comes out, the ground gets warm. 5:00, the seed sprouts, starts to grow very, very tall. Then the whole story starts over again.
Actually, now that I think about it, a lot of handshapes are repeated. The "red" handshape is used for the lightning and raindrops. Also, another handshape (sort of the "4" or "5" handshape) is used for the wings, to describe the trees, to describe warmth, the clouds, and so on. Repeating handshapes is sort of analogous to rhyming in spoken poetry.
does it really make sense for there to be a soundtrack?
i initially read the title as ESL poetry and I thought it would be kids speaking broken english. this is cool too though.
Yeah, I thought about that too; its obviously deliberate, as the narrative fits the music so well.
I can't really get into the mindset of the artist, but I'm guessing the performance is for everyone, not just Deaf people. Some Deaf people have some range of hearing (perhaps he does, too), and I have Deaf friends who like to crank the music up loud enough to feel the beat. (Don't be the only hearing person at a really loud Deaf party when the police show up.)
Am I the only person who doesn't know what ASL is? Please help, I'm having a full fucking panic attack after watching this shit.
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