Yesterday I divulged into a few overarching topics that needed to be addressed for this month’s client, like what is haiku? and what is Haiku Den—what do they do or provide? In the end I’ve developed it as a gallery of members submitting their reflections on the poetry of haiku for the purpose of inspiration. I follow several blogs that keep their membership tight for the purposes of quality control, and in the end, these sites are very much like diy magazines, only digital, and interfaced by the users. In many ways this is a bit elitist, but it does help collect the different aesthetics online into categories and trends, if that’s the thing you’re looking for, and that is often the case if inspiration is your goal.
Haiku Den is like that. But what kind of sensibilities does it have? Well, probably something like one of said blogs I follow called Designspiration. It’s rather noted in the design community so you may have seen it before, but Haiku Den would take the idea of user-submitted visuals, tie them strictly to the poetry of haiku, and share with all the world to see.
Since I don’t want to rip off the work of everyone else in the world, and it’s a great opportunity to do projects in the type/image form, I’m fashioning my own submissions for Haiku Den this week. I’m concurrently working on sketches for the branding of Haiku Den and developing a strategy for visuals that will give it a unique presence, both online, in mobile devices and as a community in general. I posted snippets of my mind map, but following is the whole shebang.
While developing this type/image work inspired by haiku, I’ve been thinking a lot about the content of the pieces, and how they reflect onto the page. With so few words in a haiku poem, and a prevalence for natural and seasonal imagery, I want to ensure my reflections are sustainable—that I don’t constantly insert a grasshopper or cherry blossoms when I come across those images in the poetry. Haiku is about much more than that.
For Tuesday’s haiga, I aim to explore that extension of meaning. Here’s the haiku:
One horn short, one long —
What troubles him?
The poem uses the image of a snail, a seemingly vulnerable, small, and quiet creature. Strange and insignificant you might judge as the poem opens. Buson continues the image with a qualification to the creature by noting it may be deformed in some nature, with its horns being asymmetrical. This could also be a personification in the second image however, in that the horns are seen as cocked or troubled, as a human’s eyebrows. The poet wonders perhaps if this seemingly insignificant snail has worries or pains given its uneven appendages. Or perhaps it asks if creatures as small as a snail recognize that they are different from other creatures, and if they recognize that they are different from others even of their own kind. And if that troubles them?
So much is explored in the pithy lines of Buson’s haiku, that would otherwise simply be a string of words. It is two simple images, blended in a moment that is given the gravity to brighten with clarity that perhaps too many words would spoil. It might be about sympathy, difference, significance, and survival. Buson’s haiku is beautiful enough on its own though, and needs no commentary, it needs no illustration. However, we learn by expounding and examining, and for some, that exploration is visual.
Breaking down the poem into more than just the words however is where meaning unfolds. This allows a designer to see past the simple visuals of snails, leaves, horns, shells, troubles, etc. This is how the simple haiga develops.