RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Tuesday, July 12

Homepix/Gambleraku

Had a comment from a friend about the nature of the gambleraku poems (which I occasionally have arbitrarily started spelling gamblerokku lately) being more hopeful at one point or another, and being I have come to the start of the creative end of the homepix cluster, I thought I would share the process, being the fact two pics and poems a day pop up on the site can be misleading.
Although at a younger age, I did lots of art and zines with wacky artboy things in them, I have never really considered myself a visual artist so much as a word artist, and I've typecast myself into that role voluntarily a lot of times, being my brain has thought in words so easily. But the item that initially started the rojonekku blog was a project I had where I wrote a thousand haiku over the course of a couple of years. After I started collecting them, I also began collecting the empty 12-pack boxes from the beer I drank, and also have long had a workboot box full of magazine pictures culled from all sorts of sources, all trimmed to roughly the same rectangular size. It seemed to me that sorting through the haiku and picking four to handwrite on colored paper, and affix to a flattened 12-pack box, along with five assorted pictures from the magazine clipping bootbox, would make a good thing. The haiku part was inspired to just write about my shitty back roads poor assed life, but in a poetic way, and I've always been inspired by Han Shan, the T'ang Dynasty poet. Really, he's more a hero to me than any writer of the modern era. But it made sense to involve my obsessive compulsion to clip pictures from magazines with my drinking with my simple man haiku. And once I started compiling the Beerbox Haiku Plates (of which I think there are about 225 or so total), it also made sense to grommet holes in them and attach them in sets of three so that they were giant nearly six-feet tall wall hangings. Which is what they now are, at least the ones that are completely done.
A lot of what I do is ruled by mathematics and organizational eliminations. Thus when I was to pick out haiku, I would organize the haiku - each of which was written on its own notecard - into piles, and shift them about according to which compared to which better or worse, process of elimination until the haiku I was feeling the most was sitting at the top, and then put those in groups of four relatively related poems. The whole thing is actually much more complicated than that, but in a ridiculous nerdy way that I can't even bear to explain. I've barely explained it to my wife, just enough so she knows there's method to me shifting giant stacks of notecards around for two hours on end every now and then. And she is very tolerant of the methods to my madness, as well as the madness to my methods.
So in the process of working on the Beerbox Haiku, it made sense to me that I'd have to eventually take my own pictures to make this work as a creative endeavor, or else I'd run into the same sampling issues that hip hop ran into by using parts of other people's pictures for my bullshit. At that point, which was only a few years back, I - like many dork artphags - got into taking Polaroid pictures. But once I bought a bunch of Polaroid film to take pictures with, it only made sense, for whatever reason, to take pictures of vehicles, which I did. That became the Poloroidz Projects thing on here, which is something that I've immensely loved and is amazing to go back and look through. If you've never fucked with that, go to the bottom of the page to the tag cloud and click on Poloroidz and stroll through that nonsense. (In fact, a lot of what I've done over the years in this site involves weaving tags together into nonsense, in the hopes that you can lose yourself in that if you are of the right mind. I know common internet website practice is to have neatly laid out lists with multiple pages per list, but I prefer the rich retarded fabric of nonsense for my internetting pleasures, and that is what I've emulated with Rojonekku.)
But Polaroid stopped making Polaroid film, and that shit went sky high. It was already like $10 a pack at Wal-Mart, putting it at about a buck per picture, which was worth it if I only took pictures of old cars (part of the reasoning behind the them actually was making it worth the waste of money), but once it was no longer available, damn... I was not the only artphag into taking Polaroids, and I was not very high up on the socioeconomic scale amongst that group, thus I got priced out pretty much as soon as you could not buy it at Wal-Mart anymore. (A 10-pack of Polaroid film now, which was around $10, averages about $50 on ebay, which amazes me. Something that at one time was readily available enough and discreet enough that people took naked pictures of each other with it is now not affordable to most human beings on earth.)
Thus began my dabbling with digital cameras, meaning we had one for the family that was relegated to second-class status because it was only 2.something megapixels, and was busted up, so I played around with using that, but then ordered a lime green Polaroid digital camera off the online, thinking in my head it was a natural technological continuation of the Poloroidz Project. Oh man, was I wrong. That camera, although tons more megapixels and able to hold a thousand million pictures, sucked. I gave it to my then 5-year-old to be her camera and went back to the old crappy family camera, which I always loved the feel of anyways. It's much bigger than your modern digital camera, and is busted in a way that the thing that holds the batteries in won't shut, so I have to wrap it in duct tape, and it looks like some sort of terrorist device, especially when I used blaze orange duct tape.
That became my camera, and I started to wander and take pictures wherever I was. While in Las Vegas early on in taking on this camera as my go-to camera, I realized I was bored with the rhythm of 5-7-5 syllable haiku. Now I know that western linguistics does not match eastern character-based language, so we don't necessarily have to stifle ourselves to the 5-7-5 format, but I also feel that the 5-7-5 form has become a tradition on its own in western society, so to just arbitrarily write three short lines of poetry and call it a haiku seems sort of chumpy to me. But like I said, I was getting bored with the 5-7-5 rhythm, so being I was in Vegas, I just decided to go with a 7-7-7 structure instead. Thus was born the gambleraku (or gamblerokku as it is sometimes called). So almost immediately as I thought about putting homepix up on Rojonekku, I realized I was also scribbling these three-line poems all the time on notecards again, like the original 1000 haiku project. Thus it made sense to pair them together.
Somewhere in the process of taking the homepix, I realized I had a good eye for it, meaning I saw beauty in the ugly, or whatever. I know that the dumb shit I take pictures of is better than most of what I see people with fancy hypertronic lensed expensive cameras taking. You will not see close-ups of flowers, unless there's like a half-melted wax soldier in the background or something. I have an eye that is not like other's it seems, and I am thankful for that.
That being said, picking the pictures that I put up from the ones I took mimicked the process with the haiku boxes where I'd go through all available pics, putting them in different folders, figuring out which ones I liked most in batches of ten, and then writing the name (which itself was just a five-letter code for whatever it was the picture meant to me) on a notecard, and then carrying the notecard around until I wrote a gambleraku to go with it. About two weeks ago, I sorted through what was left of the homepix at a point where I found some different settings for the camera that were doing wacky things, and thus I decided that was it for this first phase of the photographs, and the homepix project. So the taking of pictures is done.
I still have a stack of about 100 notecards to write gambleraku for, which I do late at night, sitting in front of our large ass monitor, zoning on them, usually with headphones on like a 1978 stoner kid. And the ones that were written are already set up to go on the blog, for like a month now, which means combined with the ones I've yet to write, even though the project is starting to wind down, it'll still be going up for a couple months.
That being said, when you see a moody or downtrodden or cryptic gambleraku, that is not necessarily my mood at that point. They don't even go up in the order they were written, as that doesn't fit the parameters of how I do them. I am a man confined by self-created parameters. Like heavily so. But when you get a change in tone, the change is a subtle or consistent one that has probably already passed through my real life and perhaps already come back and left and so on.
I really feel like the homepix/gambleraku things are a great and wonderful and wacky thing, and honestly have been surprised it hasn't been discovered by more internet dorks into that type of thing. Part of the problem is probably that aforementioned fabric of nonsense that causes things like that to get lost. Usually if somebody has an internet gimmick like this, they only do this, on their site, and keep everything else clear. I cannot be such a person. All my madness is here, for the most part, all in one place. In fact, after a few different blogs with such one-style parameters, I figured it best to keep it all together anyways. Hopefully you enjoy that wackily woven fabric. Straight up and from the heart is how it's always been.

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