issue 9-1
spring/summer 2008



You may be familiar with linked verse renga, but did you know that renga may also be a linked series of images? As originally invented by Japanese artists Nakamura Rieko and Anzai Toshihiro, graphic renga (lit. linked image) is a collaborative, internet-based performance art in which an image is exchanged over the Internet, each participant changing it and then passing it on (http://www.renga.com). As practiced by Nakamura and Anzai, graphic renga involves only images, but at WHChaikumultimedia we've developed a variant using haiga. Each participant must

1) Alter the image by adding something new to it, cutting out part of it and pasting it into a new image, or substantively altering the image so that it becomes a new art work. Something must be kept from the received image, and it must be clearly visible though it's okay to make viewers work a little to spot it.

2) Compose a new haiku for the new image. The resulting text/image combination should qualify as a haiga, while also employing a modified form of linking and shifting by retaining one word from the previous haiku and avoiding back linking (the repetition of words and themes previously used).

We've done several graphic and haiga at WHChmm—competing in small teams, or taking turns in a "global collaboration" like this one. The response is always enthusiastic, and members whom we haven't seen in a while come back for the fun. Like their better-known poetry counterparts, graphic renga are an aesthetic of free association and spontaneity. Inspired by the previous artist's work, we find that first ideas are often the best, and the pace is such that haiga are often completed and on their way to the next person within hours.

It's always interesting seeing how themes emerge, run for a while, yield to new ideas and crop up later in different guise. "Improv in the Key of Rose" is particularly interesting in this regard. We hope you'll enjoy it, and perhaps even be inspired to gather some friends and try one yourself.

click on the thumbnail to enter the renga