WHChaikumultimedia                                                                                                          exercise #3   8/03                                                                                                                                      Tulip Festival

  New Comments and Critiques
by Michael Dylan Welch


Once again, thank you for the honour of featuring my poem in your artwork, and for the opportunity to offer some comments. As before, these are subjective opinions, and it's important that you ignore me and other comments whenever your own muse leads you elsewhere.

Some of the comments I shared previously still apply, especially regarding the em dash. I presume you used one (rather than two hyphens) if you could figure out how, and I'll presume that if you didn't, your software didn't permit it, or you weren't able to tame your software into figuring out how in the limited time available. No matter, as it's a small detail compared to the other aspects of multimedia haiku creation. Indeed, your offerings have many points of excellence to commend them!

So, forthwith, some comments on each piece:

1. Very clever. Probably doesn't stand alone, apart from this exercise, or knowing that the highlighted parts are a haiku, but I applaud the originality of this piece. And it looks very authentic as a newspaper article, too -- well done. AND the text is amusing, too. ("Winsome" is a nice touch, along with the reference to the tire prints near one of the tulips, alluding to one of the previous photo-haiga creations.)

2. Dramatic impact. The white letters are a little hard to read against the yellow, but that's nitpicking. The pinwheel suggests the swirl of colours one sees at a tulip festival as the flowers sway in the wind.

3. A fine, painterly presentation. I like the suggestion that the quill pen is like a tulip, and that the painted "pen" is creating the colours below, just as, perhaps, the poem also creates colours in the reader's mind. Not keen on the space between the first and second lines of the poem, though. Nice font choice. Would have enjoyed seeing a bit more colour at the bottom (greater height for that part).

4. This looks like a picture from Cirque de Soleil. The maker has chosen nice purples to complement the picture, though I think I might have used a whiter colour for the poem, to echo the brightness of the face. I'm not keen on tildes used in place of em dashes, by the way, though if someone is frustrated by not getting a proper em dash, I can see how the tilde might be appealing. But to me, as a typographer and text/page designer, it's as "wrong" as misspelling "the." However, I suppose a case could be made that, in the unique "grammar" of haiku, a tilde might be creating its own new use and meaning.

5. The red shape looks heart-like to me, which adds a new dimension to the poem. I also like the twisting of the frame, and the font choice. One comment I might make about this image, though, is the "artifacts" produced on the graphic by the manipulation of the image -- artifacts that generally I wouldn't like to see in a regular photograph (but seem okay here, given the highly abstract nature of this representation). It's hard to describe what I mean. In the bottom-right corner of the graphic, there are different kinds of spots (harder/sharper looking) than, say, in the softer-looking bottom-left corner. Perhaps it looks too bitmappy there? Not sure I can be more helpful, except to say that I'm *conscious* of the texures, and perhaps by being too conscious of it, maybe it proves to be distracting.

6. Not sure I get any connection between the poem and picture. And while it's worthwhile to explore black-and-white photography in photo-haiga creation, I'm not sure the lack of colour does anything here. Also, I'd avoid a hyphen before the name, as was done here. It should properly be an em dash (or not used at all). I'd also put the name in italics, and maybe position it slightly differently, to contrast more strongly with the text of the poem.

7. A fun twist -- instead of various cars, we see various coloured bicycles. As a way to depart from other photo-haiga already seen, this is a nice variation, but I think bicycles might simply be puzzling if this were to be seen on its own. I like the faded green background, which brings out the green in the photo.

8. Seems odd to have these flowers (bouganvillea?) paired with a tulip poem. The photo also seems to not have the best exposure, since some parts that we want to see are too dark, and others are a bit overexposed. There also isn't a strong composition in the photo, either. The choice of colour for the text, though, does bring out the touch of green in the photo.

9. Pow! A big smooch from this offering! I like the unspoken metaphor of lips being like tulips (gee, it's right there in the word "tulips," isnt' it?). I'm not sure that I like the change in colours used for the second and third lines of the poem. Seems distracting to me. The change in point size is also distracting -- and misleading, because the larger first line subjectively suggests that it might be a title for what follows, which isn't the case. A fun selection of images, here.

10. Should I presume that this image is the maker's impression of the person critiquing all these photo-haiga? :-) (I'm sure that's not the intent, but you're free to harrumph at me if you don't agree here and there with my comments!) Anyway, the colour of the person here, and what he's wearing, certainly echoes the various colours described in the poem. Otherwise, though, I don't know that the juxtaposition adds anything to the whole creation -- or at least, whatever it may add is too ambiguous to be effective.

11. A nice variation on the previous version of this image. The swooping text and shadows suggests the wind that keeps tulips from ever being still out in a field. Perhaps there's a bit too much curving in the text (it could be a bit simpler and easier to read).

12. The background, which suggests flowers (presumably tulips) is a bit subtle here, so really this presentation is mostly just text. I find the capital T's distracting here, and the changes in point size. This is well crafted, with various interesting graphic effects, though I don't think it hangs together as a whole.

13. Here, instead of various coloured cars (or bicycles, or umbrellas, or what have you), we have various bugs. Some of the bug images seem clearly "repeated," even though they are stretched, turned, flipped, or whatever, and the attempt to make the repetitions look different doesn't quiet succeed. My initial impression is that this creation reminds me of those preprinted papers you can buy in specialty stores with decorative borders. The poem thus seems nearly incidental. It's an interesting font, though.

14. In the various photography clubs that I've judged photo contests for over the years, a general rule was that taking pictures of someone else's art (as in a sculpture, like in this case) seldom constitutes a new artistic creation. Rather, they are often just "record shots." It's typically the sculpture that the source of interest, not the way it was photographed. So, with that in mind, how to respond to this creation? First, it's an intriguing sculpture, and well-exposed (though I find the tree being dead-center in the background to be distracting). I like the positioning of the poem and name, and the font choice (though the em dash looks faked, so I notice it). But does it work as a whole? I wouldn't say no, as there's something intriquing about the creation as a whole. I like the choice of bicycles to add something new and different compared to the cars that are mentioned in the poem.

15. Here we have a close-up view inside the tulip. Perhaps haiku are "close up" poems, also. Nice fonts, textures, colours, and other details of craft here. I don't care for the capital "T" used to start the poem, since I have aesthetic reasons for not using them to start most of my haiku, but I don't know if the capitalization was a deliberate choice or not by the maker of this image. Overall, it's pleasing.

16. Dramatic colours, and an interesting use of textures on the font. The curly flourishes in each of the letters matches the mood of flowers well. I'm not sure that the picture is doing everything it can for you here, though. What other pictures might be more pertinent?

17. The photo here suffers from what I suspect are moire patterns. Do a Google search to learn about them -- they're an artifact of creating "line screens" in the process of printing photographs using tiny dots of ink. The new "stochastic" method of line screens tends to eliminate moire patterns. If you scan a photograph printed in a newspaper, you may easily see this problem, something that printers try to avoid. Anyway, regarding this creation, I'm not sure what the photo here has to do with the poem. I'm forced to wonder because the maker has paired them, but I'm left without fulfilment or understanding.

18. An intriguing photograph, and nicely chosen background colour to bring out the same colour in the photograph. The text, though, seems hard to read -- not sure why. Here, again, the choice of photo, though interesting in itself, seems almost randomized in being paired with the poem. Random pairings may indeed create interesting results, and haiga relies on good juxtapositions to create energy and interest, but I think the best haiga move beyond random juxtapositions to retain greater control over meaning and intent. I hardly think this juxaposition was done randomly, but the effect upon the viewer may seem that way.

19. Not sure what the intent is here, though the woman's shape may be a bit tulip like. What's most effective are the bold colours and simple design. The larger point size for the first line is distracting to me (it again looks like a title).

20. The poem gets lost here -- too small. Or perhaps the font has been stretched to be more vertical than it should be, and that diminishes its readability. This may be a lesson to be very careful when stretching and manipulating type in a program such as Photoshop. It's easy to go too far. I suspect this image (or at least the text) looked better on the maker's computer, but at the resolution seen online, the text doesn't work. I like the idea of colour suggested by the peacock, especially in the "eye" of its feathers.

21. The graphic image here has a kaleidoscope sort of appearance, which echoes the colours one sees at a tulip festival (or in a parking lot full of cars). I find the treatment of the first line and name to be a bit distracting. The treatment is the same, yet we're not really supposed to equate those two things in any particular way, so the treatment gives a conflicting message. Might be better to reserve that special type effect just for the name or just for the poem. Here I'd also like to comment on a common problem in the appearance of type in many photo-haiku. Look closely at the white parts around the red text here. See how it's blurry? I'm not sure what causes this, but it's very distracting. If I were a company wanting an image with text on it for an advertising campaign, these sorts of undesireable artifacts would be a deal-breaker -- they simply wouldn't be acceptable. They are perhaps more noticeable in this image. I'm not sure why the happen. The way I consider digital photo manipulation (and the manipulation of text in software), if you can see artifacts of manipulation, then it seems the technology has failed. In other words, speaking just of photography, if you can *tell* the photo is digital, then the technology (or at least that photo) simply isn't good enough. That's a harsh aesthetic line I'm drawing in the sand, but until the technology is sufficiently good enough, or my skill at controlling the software reaches sufficiently expert levels, I'm likely to be dissatisfied with digial photography and any manipulation thereof -- no matter how much fun it might be to play with it. In short, if you can see the scaffolding, then the building ain't finished!

22. I recognize the buildings in this picture -- the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, with the tip of the TransAmerican pyramid in the background. My wife used to work in one of the foreground buildings. Interesting effects here, with a sort of stage/spotlight effect from the bottom. I'm not sure what these effects or the choice of photo is supposed to mean, though. This doesn't seem quite fully realized.

23. An intricate border to this creation, but I don't think the piece as a whole hangs together. The rectangular shape of the photo clashes with the oval shape around it, so the elements don't seem sufficiently harmonized here. I like the colours of leaves in place of any more "obvious" image, but I don't think the frame is doing anything for you here.

24. This piece has an erotic feel to it. The multicoloured nail polish suggests M&M candies to me, which either amuses me or makes me hungry for a little snack. The repetition of the skin images creates an intriguing abstraction and effective ambiguity.

One concluding comment. Of all of the various depictions of my poem, it seems that one challenge has been to try to be different or creative. I think this is a good impulse, and worth exploring, but in the end it's worth going back to the center again, asking yourself if the final creation really achieves the desired result. This would certainly be easier if you were the writer of the poem, and I appreciate the difficulty of trying to work with someone else's poem while trying to avoid obvious interpretations. It's a challenge, and I think, as a group, you've risen to the challenge extremely well. There's a tremendous amount of variety and creativity in these images (first and second rounds), as well as subtlety. Bravo. And again, thank you for the honour I feel that these excercises have bestowed on my poem. I thank you all. Keep up the excellent work.

Michael Dylan Welch

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