is a collaborative art form that was developed by Toshihiro Anzai
and Rieko Nakamura in 1992 (http://www.renga.com/). A truly internet-based
performance art, it combines digital art and classical linked poetry.
Renga participants exchange digital artworks, altering each image
as it is received to create a new work of art. The resulting series
of linked images is thus a visual expression of the transmission of
artistic ideas between participants.
There are few
rules in graphic renga. Images may be altered by manipulating and
changing the received image, by adding new motifs to it, or by inserting
it as a motif in a wholly new composition. Unlike classical linked
poetry, there are no rules against backlinking. The theme of the renga,
the number of images and the order in which they will be passed are
decided by the participants. There is no poetry as such, although
images may be titled.
We learned about
graphic renga when Carol Raisfeld introduced it on WHChaikumultimedia.
We have been composing as a duo since then and have two collaborations
scheduled to be published in the next issues of Simply Haiku and Haiga
Online. Those two have six images with captions in the form
of one-line haiku. They have similarities to rengay and colorenga,
the difference being that the haiku were composed after the images
were complete and it is the images, not the haiku, that are the linked
developed in a different direction. Twelve images long, the images
do not relate to each other in a way that would have been compatible
with a colorenga. We realized that any text composed for it would
have to be a twelve-link renku resembling the more traditional Japanese
forms. We decided on a shisan, but this presented challenges:
1) The graphic renga had been composed with no prior
thought to season references, though three of the images (4, 5 and
6) seemed to refer specifically to Spring and Summer.
We were beginning with a pre-existing set of images that had been
composed under graphic renga rules, which are quite different and
more liberal than those of renku; for instance, graphic renga do not
The images were created and passed between us in an alternating a/b/a/b/
rhythm, which meant that if we simply wrote captions for our
one of us would have all the three-line verses and the other all
We solved these
problems by electing to compose a Winter shisan, which allowed
Spring and Summer verses to fall in an appropriate place. We decided
that whatever the rules of graphic renga, the shisan would be
renku whose links responded to the images and to each other. And
finally, for the allocation of three- and two-link verses, we
adapted a pattern
for a two-poet shisan that was published by Paul MacNeil in World
Haiku Review 2002. This meant that we would start and end the
composing verses for our own images, but through the middle we would
each be responding to the other’s.
As they developed,
the verses of the shisan linked to each other in classic form
to the images, not only their own but the images before and after.
They also added new layers of meaning to the artistic themes developed
in the images and the result is a renga that gains in depth and complexity
with the two threads, graphic renga and shisan, inextricably entwined.
2005: Simply Haiku