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Watch: Algorithm-Based Buddhist Art Debuts at Stanford University

Nancy Chu reports on Rebecca Nie Heart Sutra in Sacred Futurism, an augmented reality installation of Buddhist art that uses unique GPU algorithms inspired by the complexity of life and our human experiences.

Video by Jiayue Ceculia Wu and ZM Nie. An excerpt from the final version of “Heart Sutra in Sacred Futurism”. Courtesy of the artist.

Heart Sutra in Sacred Futurism, an augmented reality Buddhist art installation, debuted on October 10 at the Sankofa World Music Concert at Stanford University, an event co-sponsored by the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies. The installation, which was created by Rebecca Nie, a Stanford-affiliated Buddhist chaplain, is a futuristic expression of the Heart Sutra, integrating singing in Chinese, Korean and Japanese. It was produced in collaboration with the concert’s musical director, Jiayue Cecilia Wu, an assistant professor at the College of Arts and Media at the University of Colorado, and starred musicians Scott L. Miller, Jane Rigler and Chris Chafe. To prepare, the musicians rehearsed for several months using cutting-edge network audio technologies, such as Jacktrip, to compose, record and produce remotely. Heart Sutra music.

Rebecca Nie, who is also a video and algorithmic artist, designed and developed unique GPU algorithms inspired by the complexity of life and our human experiences. She also made visual representations of Avalokiteshvara inspired by an early 12th century Bengali painting of the bodhisattva.

Image courtesy of the artist.

“By working in this manner with proven expressions of transcendent wisdom and universal compassion, we as artists hope to ignite the public’s imagination to find a heartfelt sacredness that is intimately theirs and rooted in the contemporary world. increasingly focused on technology, ”Nie told Lion’s Roar.

According to the installation declaration, Heart Sutra in Sacred Futurism draws on sacred expressive traditions in song, drumming, architecture, ink art, and figurative representations of the divine found in the Buddhist world. Meanwhile, the artists, who are classically trained in these traditions, intentionally transpose these tried and true expressions with futuristic visual dynamics based on technology-rich algorithms and acoustic techniques such as electronic music and surrounding sound.

The result of the multimedia collaboration is then video mapped to Stanford University’s sacred historic monument, Memorial Church. In total, the augmented reality piece incorporates layers of complexity and symbolism. This is the message and metaphor of sacred futurism: we build a future not on empty slate, but by fully recognizing the nuances of the past and pursuing what gives life. “

Rebecca Nie has a long-standing relationship with art. His approach blends Western and contemporary influences with Eastern aesthetics and philosophy. His studies in science (quantum optics and pure mathematics at the University of Toronto and applied physics at Stanford University) allow him to bring innovative technological approaches to his artistic creations. She is also an adviser to the Stanford Zen Society and Zen Master of the Korean Jogye Order. For her, the art and experience of Buddhist awakening are inseparable.

“When creating, I let go of my limited self to allow lines, colors and textures to come out of a mystical center in my being, and I know this is the space through which we are all connected. “Nie said.

“I trust this approach to express the awakened universal nature within each of us.”


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