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GALLERY 2010/2011


The Politics of the Divine–Thangka numérique


Description of campaign/project

I don't actually think the suicide chamber of the 1973 movie classic "Soylent Green" needs updating but the idea behind its construction, for conveying a sense of a beautiful and gentle world to those who have lost hope, is in a broad sense similar to feel-good-movies (which "Soylent Green", precursor to the "Matrix" trilogy, decidedly is not), Victoria's Secret adverts, the feeling when standing beneath buttressed cathedral vaults and the domes of mosques, statues of war heroes, national flags, sports paraphernalia, and gold-leafed sacred texts. Each object or media presentation operates at a high register subconscious level that affects our mood and ultimately the choices we make. This project examines the autonomic reflex and its relationship to the festival's theme of Love:Conflict:Imagination is that this brain function is germane to each, is often culturally and sociological independent, and is the basic stuff of successful design for mediated environments as well as propaganda campaigns.

I spent some time in Lhasa, Tibet studying the iconography and construction of South Asian thangkas, sacred paintings used in Buddhist instruction that illuminate the way to divine worlds, gods and processes. "The Politics of the Divine–Thangka numérique" employs a series of digital representations of thangka that retain elements of its geometry, symmetry, colour, luminosity, scale and precious material, but are devoid of religious references. The key objective to create a full-scale, walk-in environment that approaches the sacred along the terms above. Sound art will enhance the visual effect and investigation into disbursing hormonal traces (after recent studies on the tears of females–mothers' tears) is being considered. After encountering the new environment, participants will be asked to record and communicate their feelings via text-message to a project server. If they subsequently have some after-thoughts some time after the encounter, they would be encouraged to transmit these thoughts via text-message or other electronic means.

Useful knowledge can only be obtained after many visitations and coding of the accumulated text-messages over time and in different cultural settings. Variations of the presentation of this environment could involve hospital waiting rooms, bus terminals, or other public spaces. If art and design can reduce stress levels, nurture a sense of hope similar to the first light of a new day, have a placebo effect on our physiology, then greater knowledge of their therapeutic effects may be useful. If a greater understanding of the subliminal environment surrounding how we come about to make the decisions we make, in love and in war, is useful, then we would have a sense of greater control over our lives, and that matters.

My investigations into the sacred world began many years ago after a personal loss. Being aware of our own feelings is within either the domain of professional therapists, the consul of spiritual advisers, or the way to madness, or redemption, for the artist.


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Entry details


The Politics of the Divine–Thangka numérique


Giving the assisted suicide chamber of "Soylent Green" a fashionable new look!

Concept author(s)

Nu'a Bön

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

Project design, code-writing, and aesthetic development.


United States of America

Competition category


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

I create autonomic installation environments for art biennales and exhibition, that incorporate single-channel HD video, light boxes, and sound art in order to enhance our understanding about the use and nature of spectacle in sacred and secular art and spaces.