We took part in the international un-competition The Deconstruction on the weekend, and decided to deconstruct neighbourhood.
Haiku-bombing in chalk is about observation, non-permanence and quietly unsettling our usual relationship with place, and perhaps with each other. Of course it's also about getting a bit of a street-art adrenaline rush.
Haiku-bombing is partly inspired by the famous graffito tag eternity that was written in chalk on Melbourne's footpaths in the 1930s, and then later in the streets of Sydney.
Step 1: Observe
Do a recce of your neighbourhood, observe the life of the street and find places or relationships between things that interest or inspire you. Consider avoiding obvious iconic places, and focus instead on details that don't seek attention.
Also think about places where you can take a good photo, and where you can get a camera angle that will allow you to read the whole haiku in one shot.
Step 2: Write
Write some haikus. Follow whatever tradition you prefer.
The usual English language form is as follows:
- Use three (or less) lines of 17 syllables (or less) - usually 5/7/5
- Use a word associated with a season (kigo)
- Use a cut (kireji) to contrast or compare two events, ideas, situations or images
- Show, don't tell
Step 3: Prepare Your Kit
Print or write your haikus out on a piece of paper to take with you. Ask a friend to be your haiku-bombing buddy and read the words out for you as you write, this reduces errors and means you can work more quickly.
Look official in a non-specific way by wearing hi-vis vests and carrying your haikus on a clip board.
Buy non-permanent line marking chalk in an aerosol can from your local hardware store. This is sometimes called landscape chalk.
Bicycles are the perfect mode of transport for multiple haiku-bombings, you can also use your bike to conceal what you're doing a little.
Step 4: Haiku-bomb
Using temporary aerosol chalk, write your haiku in your chosen site.
- Consider camera angle and whether the text will be legible before you start writing
- Avoid private property, especially if it looks well loved
- Use bigger letters on the lines furthest away from the camera if writing on a horizontal surface
- Indent lines if you cannot fit the whole line of the haiku in the space available
- Leave plenty of space between lines on horizontal surfaces
- Use capital letters and avoid cursive writing or decorative details, the contrast between the simple, direct graffito style and the transient & poetic qualities of the material and content is part of what makes haiku bombing interesting (IMHO).
Step 5: Shoot & Leg It
Document with video or photos
Skedaddle. While writing in chalk in public places is hardly hardcore criminal behaviour, you could get done for criminal mischief.