“217 Views of the Tokaido Line” by Will Luers

Screenc apture from “217 Views of the Tokaido Line” by Will Luers. White background with a set of three pictures. Text: "his life now / a stationary shop / pilgrims".
Open “217 Views of the Tokaido Line” by Will Luers

This mesmerizing work of observational poetry juxtaposes a generative haiku with a split-screen 6 minute looping video composed of short clips captured along the Tokaido line. Luers’ statement explains the concept in detail in the “About” page.

With our small cameras, smartphones and apps we document our travels. We capture and collect “haiku” moments, tokens of time and space, just as we always have, whether with pen and paper or the bulky camcorder. But with digital technology, we now store these moments as files in searchable databases. How do we use them? Do we try to find the narratives in the fragments or hunt for the suprising incongruities? Perhaps we only care about the isolated moment,the singular shot or sequence, which we “share” as soon as it has rendered. However we narrate experience, our devices and their databases remind us that there are always moments lost in any narrative retelling, always a different path through the data.

The video is arranged deliberately and it tells a narrative, of sorts, but the generated haiku that appear and change every 10 seconds shape how we the videos. Because the video space is divided into three distinct portions, Luers uses the spaces to display single, dual, or multiple moving images, including short loops. The loosely defined haiku are generated with a similar structure, since line is generated from its own data set, consisting of 83 poetic images, as defined by Ezra Pound “that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.”

Luers increases exponentially the possible associations we can have with these verbal and visual snapshots, yet they cohere because they are so focused on their common source material. Lulled by its soft train sounds, he invites us to meditate upon this wonderfully ambient piece.

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