Visual Haiku is a photographic interpretation of an ancient Japanese poetic form. In contrast to my earlier street photography, this work is less about intra-frame composition and more about inter-frame context. Besides exploiting the pictographic shorthand of images of everyday objects, I use natural forms and different qualities of light to create layers of interpretation. The series currently numbers 23, with new photographic poems in progress about the coming millennium and the increasing ubiquity of cyberlife. Recent Visual Haiku have been montaged digitally and explore ideas about advertising, identity, the Second World War, and the history of photography.
I am interested in the way images are stored in memory, both personal snapshots and the media-created imagery of what constitutes our growing collective history. I “read” the poems top to bottom, or as many Japanese read text, as a single snap-shot of symbols which fuse into epiphany. As an installation, a group of Visual Haiku totems becomes a mysterious amalgam of organic and man-made, a symphonic forest of linked imagery emerging from our primordial subconscious. —1998, Boston, NYC
The sculptures are made from oak plywood, sintra, and laminated silver gelatin prints. Dimensions: approximately 84” x 12” x 2”, with prints measuring 9” x 9”.
Haiku is a more than thousand year-old poetic form developed in Japan which contains three lines and uses a 5-7-5 syllable per line rhythm. Originally haiku were composed to give a snapshot of some personal epiphany evoked through a pondering of some detail of a natural seasonal detail, a thawing spring pond, for example, or the hoarfrost on a horse’s mane. As the form matured, it came to be used more colloquially, and content restrictions were relaxed so that it could be used for almost any brief pithy epiphany. It is the spirit of haiku more than its formal structure that I borrow.
Many Visual Haiku were never made, so I have dozens of prints created for the series that have never been shown. They can stand alone, but were meant to be a part of a poetic narrative. Some are show here, along with some from existing Visual Haiku, so you can see them bigger.