Call this moment

Call this moment

    crows and I
    call this moment
    through trees

haiku: Owen Bullock
video: Tim Brook

The work

Call this moment is a sequence of vignettes. It combines readings of contemporary haiku by Owen Bullock with a slowly evolving digital video by Tim Brook. Spoken words, layered with meaning, interact with layers of literal and abstract photographs, inviting each viewer to conjure new images in their own imagination. The result is both complex and contemplative.

Trees

The process

At the beginning of our collaboration, I sent Tim a large selection of 62 haiku written in Australia and published in the last five years. These are contemporary haiku which attempt to capture the experience of a moment, using the senses and often creating an analogy from nature to human life; they are frequently composed of two contrasting images. Such aesthetics are now widely understood as important elements of haiku, as opposed to mere syllable count, which focusses only on form and often results in poems which have little to do with Japanese aesthetics and are more properly termed ‘zappai’.

Tim chose a selection he thought he might be able to work with and began assembling images to compliment them from his vast storehouse of photographs, as well as taking some new ones. He also made in-the-field sound recordings for some sections of his digital video work. Tim then sent me a large selection of existing images and from these I chose some to respond to. I felt I needed to do something different to my normal practice, and I didn’t want to replicate what he had achieved in the images. So, I began composing in the Gendai style. This contemporary Japanese approach literally means ‘new-style’ haiku, but, in practise, veers towards the surreal. It suited the indirectness of many of Tim’s images, where the subject is not entirely revealed, but implied. The details of the images intrigued me, and often generated a story or imaginative departure in my mind. I composed 14 Gendai pieces, included in the 43 haiku for which I then recorded audio.

In much visual art the real subject is colour or light, and Tim later arranged the whole sequence of the work based on the progression of a colour palette, taking the concept of vignettes—which is used in literature and in photography—as a guide. Another guiding principle we developed was that each image had to leave out something that the haiku contained, and vice versa.

Just as haiku slow the reader down and invite contemplation, Tim’s slide-tape technique, with its gradual transitioning between images, slows the viewer; the two approaches are extremely compatible. Tim’s pacing of the sequence of images is crucial to the video’s reception. The process of assembling it whittled down the overall number of haiku included to 30, with the more conventional and Gendai pieces interwoven. We hope you enjoy it.

Owen Bullock 2021

Thanks to

Technical notes

Photography
Nikon D780 with various Nikkor lenses
Sound recording
Audio Recorder running on an Android phone
Zoom H4 digital sound recorder
MP3 files from Freesound and Xeno-Canto
Video production
Wings 7 running under Windows 10