Emptiness is Form (2000)

Emptiness is Form refers to a Buddhist text called the Heart Sutra, which is the distillation of all teachings on Emptiness. Emptiness in Buddhism refers not to nothingness, but to the opposite: the interdependence of all phenomena, both mental and physical. In the case of physical phenomena, the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains, "You are only made of non-you elements." That is, your body is composed entirely of non-body parts: dirt, plants, previously decomposed bodies, stardust, and so on. Thinking about the human body like this, one may come to understand that independent existence is a mental construction that collapses when we examine it.

In a similar way, one can explore the boundaries between physical objects. For example, the precise line between your body and the rest of the world is unidentifiable and indefinable. Your body dissolves into the world around it, shedding microscopic particles, and constantly absorbing bits of the "outside world" through your skin, orifices, and senses. Furthermore, as many philosophers and scientists note, if you remove parts of your body, you do not become any less "you" - e.g. when you get a haircut, or, much worse, lose a limb. Finally, your mind is composed of thoughts, ideas and perceptions that are only understood through the language you learned, the culture in which you were raised, and the people you encountered. Thus, the notion that any part of you, or "you" itself, exists independent of the world--even your thoughts--is a purely mental construction.

Click to download PC screensaver

Emptiness is Form was commissioned for REFRESH: The Art of the Screensaver which is featured at ArtMuseum.net.

Exhibition History

Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, Stanford University, 2000
London Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2002