~ Poet: Martin Gerigk ~

Haiku by Martin Gerigk

Martin Gerigk takes a highly experimental approach to the traditional literary form of Japanese haiku in his film titled Haiku.

The visual and spoken text elements include fragments from haiku by Iio Sōgi (1421-1502), Arakida Moritake (1473-1549), Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694), Yosa Buson (1716- 1784), Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) and Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). Additional text inspired by the ideas in these haiku is by Gerigk himself, along with Cauro Hige, who also contributes voice and performance.

In a freely contemporary manner, the traditional literary form guides the film’s structure. From the film-maker’s statement:

Following the typical structure of a traditional Japanese haiku the film contains 17 specific events divided in three parts of 5, 7 and again 5 units. All these events are built and derived from original Japanese haiku, contemporary text sequences, sound patterns or pure music sections.

The stylistic approach to text in the film seems more akin to sound poetry and concrete poetry than to traditional poetry. But regardless of approach to literary form, this is a truly outstanding piece of film-making that has been very widely screened and awarded. It displays a similar virtuosity to Gerigk’s Structures of Nature, published earlier in the year here at Moving Poems.

Martin describes himself as primarily a composer and arranger for orchestra and chamber music. Indeed, the meticulous entwining in this film of exquisite images, sounds, rhythms and words, feels more like musical composition than any ordinary film-making. Each element calls and answers the other. In the film-maker’s own words:

Haiku | 俳句 is a symphonic audiovisual project for two Japanese performers, alternating percussion groups, soundscapes and rhythmicized video sequences. The film is an experimental approach to pay tribute to the beauty of Japan and the extraordinary art of Japanese haiku poetry of 15th to early 20th century.

Structures of Nature by Martin Gerigk

Here at Moving Poems we sometimes like to push at the boundaries of what may be considered videopoetry. Structures of Nature is another instance of this. Beyond any theoretical interest in stretching these boundaries, we share it simply because it is a virtuosic marvel of a film that centrally incorporates text among its elements.

The piece has had its widest recognition under the auspices of experimental film, screening at over 150 festivals and gathering multiple awards. Of course, experimental film is a major area of influence on so many videopoems. The relative freedom of subject and form inherent to both poetry and experimental film make for a natural partnership.

The concept, video, editing, music and soundtrack of Structures of Nature are all by German artist, Martin Gerigk, whose bio states that he is primarily a composer and arranger for orchestra and chamber music, with audiovisual art a second string in his creative work. Certainly, the soundtrack is a prime feature of the film’s great impact.

Forget viewer control over sequential perception or any ability to take in all elements of this film at once. The best way to view it is to let go of these traditional expectations and allow the mind to process it on levels beyond straightforward cognition. One of Gerigk’s intentions is to evoke a synaesthetic experience, in which the stimulation of one sense evokes an experience in another. From the film-maker’s statement on the piece:

In my sensory world, sounds are firmly linked to certain colors and forms, a phenomenon called synaesthesia. I have experienced my environment that way since my birth. Over the years, therefore, the idea arose to visualize this variation of perception and make it tangible for everyone to experience. Even as an adult, I still find myself astonished at the secrets of nature. The filigree cosmos of the microscopic, the nested laws of nature; here, the formation of swarms, the principle of emergence, is certainly one of the most fascinating phenomena we know. Especially, since we ourselves live the behavior of swarms, every day, regarding our dealings with one another, our communication, the formation of communities, as well as our division of tasks within society. The world is changing with increasing speed. Digitalization networks us, joins us, changes our communication, and sometimes lets us forget that we and our achievements continue to be an expression of the rules and principles of nature. In order to visualize precisely these laws, Structures of Nature was created. A synaesthetic journey through inner and outer worlds of experience. Thus, I have endeavored to complement the speech and music to be heard, and all the sounds, by commensurate film sequences which correspond to my own visual synaesthetic perception. Each cinematic composition simulates the basic geometry and the color and form of what is heard but also completes the subject of what is described.

The 18 minute length of Structures of Nature is another basic way the film departs from the usual briefer expectations in videopoetry, but Gerigk’s astonishing creative mastery makes the viewing time so worthwhile.