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100,000 Suns in a Drop of Dew

Interactive installation


100,000 Suns in a Drop of Dew is an interactive installation that performs a Buddhist philosophy of emptiness and form. The work consists of a webcam that observes participants as they interact with a series of algorithms through gestural input. A projector displays a continually fractalizing series of video collages of natural landscapes in Western North Carolina where the artist was raised. As participants engage with the webcam, their image is integrated into these pristine landscapes of the Great Smoky Mountains that continually fragment into glitched-out, corrupted data forms, producing a kaleidoscopic vision of both human and nature that explores concepts of impermanence and identity.


Here, I use interactive technologies to evaluate the expression “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form” as it is understood in the Heart Sutra and adopted by many artists of the neo-avant-garde and at Black Mountain College in their own process and work. Rather, emptiness (Śūnyatā) as it is understood in the sutra does not point to an empty space—a void, an absence of matter—as it is often interpreted in the West, but instead articulates (in a relative sense) the true nature of reality: all processes and phenomena existing through dependent origination. More so, processes in nature do not exist in a static, independent, permanent, and unvarying way. Rather, emptiness is the interdependent and impermanent nature of reality: processes are always in flux an unfold through an assemblage of causes and conditions, changing from one moment to another. That is to say, material forms are emptiness in that they inevitably change. Both emptiness and form are not separate things: they are intertwined realities that are always present in each other.


Just as the work’s video collages continually decay and reconfigure themselves through the actions of participants, they also reveal preconceived truths about image and representation through and unfolding of form-emptiness. That is to say, perception, thought, language, and image, like floating clouds or the evaporation of morning dew, are not fixed concepts.

Exhibited at:

{re}HAPPENING Festival, Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, NC, April 2023. 

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