'digital mala' is a small digital media artwork that I included in the end of year group show at Peloton Gallery, Sydney. peloton.net.au/
The work comprises 54 haiku and 54 photographs displayed sequentially on a small disassembled digital photoframe.
This video shows a very abbreviated version of the 18 minute sequence.
54 haiku, 54 photographs, disassembled digital photoframe, 18 minutes looped
The buddhist meditation bead string is known as a mala.
Used as a handheld device to focus mindfulness during meditation, or in moments of reflection while quietly reciting sutras or mantras, a mala comprises 108 beads.
'digital mala' consists of 108 digital beads - 54 haiku and 54 photos. The images and poems arise from everyday experiences I've had in the bush - the Australian forest. Specifically, a wild forest property I own and caretake north-west of Sydney.
Haiku is a short-form style of poetry originating in 17th century Japan, and has strong association with zen. Traditionally, a haiku is 17 syllables, contains a word denoting one of the four annual seasons (of temperate climates) and should reflect, without embellishment, a direct experience of the natural world by the author. Haiku should be spontaneous and contain two distinct elements that work dynamically in the mind of the reader, to 'awaken the mind'.
Contemporary haiku, particularly in the West, has evolved to include a broader range of subjects and is generally less strict about syllable count and structure.
However, the essential quality of haiku is directness - pointing directly to an experience, communicating a moment of meaning from within the endless stream of time and life, the great river of impermanence within which we travel in this life.
So, 'digital mala' is an experiment in the sequential combination of photography and poetry, two modalities of representation that each activate different aspects of meaning construction within the mind of the viewer/reader. The two words signify how different these modalities are - viewing, reading. The work forces an oscillation of these modalities in the mind of the visitor, to 'awaken the mind'.
Each haiku and each image is presented for 10 seconds, one after another, on a small digital photoframe that's been disassembled to reveal its electronic workings. The device has been laid bare.
The sequence takes 18 minutes to complete, and loops during exhibition hours. I don't expect any visitor to actually see/read the entire sequence.
The intention is to plant seeds of thought about experience of the bush, to (momentarily) direct the mind of the viewer toward contemplation of the (largely neglected) local natural world and its inhabitants, the indigenous animals and plants of the Sydney sandstone country.
that cracking sound and
falling casuarina pods -
black cockatoos up there