MomenTech, United States

Residency Period: 1 November 2013 - 30 April 2014


Bio

MomenTech is an experimental production studio based in New York City, founded in 2010 by Filipino-American conceptual artist Reynard Loki and Polish-American multimedia artist Maciej Toporowicz. American filmmaker Mika Johnson joined in 2013. Inspired by transnational progressivism, cosmology, post-humanism, ecology, neo-nomadism, futurism and more, MomenTech has created pop culture remixes, instructional works, site-specifc installations, public space interventions and user-generated content pieces, developing over 35 projects and participating in 18 group exhibitions in the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Greece, South Africa, China and the Philippines.

momentech.blogspot.com/


On-hiatus Proposal Summary

As of November 1, 2013, MomenTech is on hiatus from any and all creative production for a six-month period as they engage fully with our proposed on-hiatus activity: a daily meditation practice.

MomenTech's hiatus residency also includes meditation research, data collection and progress updates posted to the RFAOH website.

This investigation into meditation continues MomenTech's interest in the practice, which began in 2010 with Field Experiment, an interactive, site-specific audiovisual project that explores meditation, self-hypnosis, the media and our cosmic origins (via Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, or CMBR) by asking participants to imagine a field after having stared into live television static for a period of 10 seconds. Field Experiment was selected by the Behring Institute of Medical Research to be a part of their first publication for "Placebos for Art," a long-term research project investigating the influence of "art-based placebos" on public health.

Meditation was also a theme in MomenTech's 2011 project Mandala-Tanque, in which pétanque competitors are invited to play a game on the surface of the pétanque court on which a Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala has been drawn. The project was selected for inclusion at the 2011 Dumbo Arts Festival.

MomenTech will resume its normal production schedule on May 1, 2014.

To contact MomenTech, please email: m01123581321345589144@gmail.com.


Final Report

Reynard Loki:

Being the primary writer in MomenTech, the task of composing the group's response to the exit questionnaire naturally fell on me. My suggestion to my fellow collaborators was that I would draft a response from the group as a whole and Mika and Maciej would add their own thoughts. But the more I thought about what we "should" express as a group, the more I realized that it was a bit of a fool's errand. It makes sense: Meditation—the daily practice of which was the main activity of MomenTech's residency—is ultimately an individual journey.

Of course, group meditation is a common practice; I have participated in several such gatherings at the Tibet House in New York during our residency as part of my own exploration into the various styles of meditation. But in the end, meditation is an intensely personal activity that can lead to intensely personal revelations, even as it may help to strip away what is to be one of humans' heaviest burdens: the ego.

The initial structure of our residency was straightforward: Each of MomenTech's three members would engage in an individual daily meditation practice for the residency's six-month period. But while the design of our residency may have been rather simple, its goals were anything but: to "develop mindfulness, concentration, insight, wisdom." That's pretty heavy-duty stuff.

Did we develop any of these aspects? I'd like to say yes, but who can really know? Meditation is not so much a "fix-it" therapy as it is a lifestyle, a way of being present in the world. Perhaps that movement towards "being present" and "being in the present" affected MomenTech's ability to plan for future events around the residency. For example, at the outset, we were all gung-ho about hosting weekly online open meditation sessions via Google Hangouts. That plan never materialized until the very end. (We hosted an open meditation on Google Hangout on the last day of our residency.)

One thing is for sure, MomenTech really did go on hiatus and for the first time in our four-year history, took a break from making art; or rather, taking a break from producing the things MomenTech produces (MomenTech, as a rule, avoids using the terms "art" and "artists.") But is that even possible? Art is often compared to life. And if art, like life, is a continual process, then can an artist truly avoid "making art"? Perhaps MomenTech did not think about, design and build a "product," per se, but the experiences we had, both individually and as a group, during our six month hiatus will forever be a part of all our future work in some fundamental way.

Our residency did "create" one kind of important thing: questions. And perhaps the best thing about our residency with RFAOH. Some of the best effects that meditation can call forth have to do with a growth in awareness. And part of becoming aware is to challenge one's status quo, to continually ask questions. What is art? What does it mean to create it? Can an artist take a break from making art? Is meditation an art form? Conversely, can making art be meditative?

I asked my fellow MomenTechnicians to email me a few lines of thoughts and observations a few days after the residency ended.

 

Maciej Toporowicz:

"Having a surgery and recovery during the residency taught me that meditation has its limits, at least for me," Maciej said. "I wasn't able to meditate, because the post-surgery stress was too much." He added that "having opportunity to meditate more often than usually moved me closer to solving my personal koan, the one I have been trying to solve since a while."

 

Mika Johnson:

"The main challenge the residency posed for me was in relation to self-discipline. On some days finding time to meditate was not an issue, whereas on other days it was almost interruptive, even frustrating. Undoubtedly, this was partly because the residency was not in a physical space, with a community of artists or meditation practitioners working toward a common goal. However, in the end, this absence of a physical space and community made my practice stronger, in the sense that I had to learn to integrate my meditation time with my normal routines and responsibilities, which is also a useful approach to art making as well.

"In the beginning, we had originally set out to answer short daily and weekly questionnaires. We took a lot of time formulating these questions, which were later abandoned. My guess is that the practice immediately became something very personal, which in many ways was difficult to comment on, at least by questionnaire. I responded similarly to the blog, in the sense that I found it challening to write about something that felt entirely personal. I simply didn’t feel I had much to contribute, as the content of that practice was my own subjectivity, not something that I could generalize about or even articulate. In retrospect, I do wish MomenTech had agreed to do one spontaneous drawing before and after each meditation session, as it would have physicalized that response, without rationalizing it. We did this on the last day and all found it surprisingly interesting and satisfying."

"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through," wrote French author Anais Nin. "Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death."

 

Could taking a break from "creating art" help to avoid a kind of "artistic death"? Perhaps. One thing is for sure, for six months, a residency with RFAOH changed the normal "elected" state of MomenTech. The decision to meditate during our hiatus only heightened the experience.

Finally, on behalf of MomenTech, I would like to thank Matt and Shinobu, the founders of RFAOH, for making this all possible. We are fortunate to have been a part of this program. Through our residency, MomenTech sowed important seeds for the future.


archives

SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
       
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930   
       
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
232425262728 
       
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 
       
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    
       
     12
17181920212223
24252627282930
       

 

recent comments

On Sep 10 2015, seo commented on Kill the Buddha!: Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use[...]

On May 1 2014, shinobu commented on MomenTech Open Meditation: it was very interesting -- we cheated a bit to "document" it etc but was such a strange feeling of c[...]

On May 1 2014, MT commented on MomenTech Open Meditation: Still very much a baby of a project, barely walking, but what a potential it has! Also, good karma i[...]

On Apr 29 2014, shinobu commented on Before-and-After Meditation Drawing Experiment: these are killing me[...]

On Apr 29 2014, shinobu commented on Last page: Is the last page the last report, you guys?? (snif snif)[...]


Indra´s Net

After reading a recent post, “Reality and Illusion”, by a fellow member of MomenTech, I was sitting and reminded of two things, the first connected to a haiku by Koboyashi Issa (1762 – 1826), which in Japanese reads:

tsuyu no yo wa
tsuyu no yo nagara
sari nagara

Donald Keene’s translation:

The world of dew
Is a world of dew, and yet
And yet…

Following the stream, Issa’s hiaku in turn reminded me of the Buddhist concept of Indra’s Net: a visual image for the idea that all phenomena are intimately connected. In “Vermeer’s Hat”, a history book by Timothy Brook, he describes it.

When Indra fashioned the world, he made it as a web, and at every knot in the web is tied a pearl. Everything that exists, or has ever existed, every idea that can be thought about, every datum that is true—every dharma, in the language of Indian philosophy—is a pearl in Indra’s net. Not only is every pearl tied to every other pearl by virtue of the web on which they hang, but on the surface of every pearl is reflected every other jewel on the net. Everything that exists in Indra’s web implies all else that exists.

In one sense, Indra’s Net appears a perfect metaphor for the idea that reality is an illusion since nothing actually exists without everything else. Self is illusory as is all else that appears permanent or stable. Quotes like these from the Buddha “A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering” seem to affirm this. At the same time, seen from a different perspective, Indra’s Net also expresses something entirely opposite: that the world is not an illusion and that escaping suffering is not possible. I will explain.

I first heard of Indra’s Net from a teacher who did not use the image of a pearl, at every node, but of a dewdrop. She said that each dewdrop could be thought of as a person; and that if you looked closely at each dewdrop, you could see tiny reflections of all the surrounding dewdrops (others); looking still closer, you could see all the reflections within reflections, to infinity, of all the dewdrops that exist. The same was true for the cosmos.

And so I return to Issa who wrote “The world of dew” after his daughter, Sato, died of smallpox when she was just over a year old. Knowing the poem’s context, the meaning changes.

The world of dew
Is a world of dew, and yet
And yet…

This leads me to think that the idea that the world is an illusion is only one interpretation that comes from the idea that the self is an illusion and that everything is connected, concepts that arise mutually. Seen from a different perspective, the world is very real. This is because  as long as there are people or animals suffering in the world, so are we. Not because we feel their pain but because we are them, much like a hall of mirrors. The same could be said for the planet as a whole. When a forest or ecosystem die, so does a part of us since like Indra’s Net all of life is woven together. This feeling / understanding is what motivates activists worldwide. It is also what allows us to understand our greif when we lose someone or something we love. 

Importantly, these two ways of seeing the world are not in contradiction. They even compliment one another. In one sense, the world is deeply real. But in another, it is very much an illusion. Balance is knowing the difference.

Leave a Comment (8)

Maciej wrote on Jan 6:

As it is often we touched a hot subject. There is a remarkable essay in New Yorker Dec 23-30 2013 titled The Intelligent Plant. It present the most recent update on science of plants.

"More likely, in the scientists’ view, intelligence in plants resembles that exhibited in insect colonies, where it is thought to be an emergent property of a great many mindless individuals organized in a network. Much of the research on plant intelligence has been inspired by the new science of networks, distributed computing, and swarm behavior, which has demonstrated some of the ways in which remarkably brainy behavior can emerge in the absence of actual brains".

"Our “fetishization” of neurons, as well as our tendency to equate behavior with mobility, keeps us from appreciating what plants can do. For instance, since plants can’t run away and frequently get eaten, it serves them well not to have any irreplaceable organs. “A plant has a modular design, so it can lose up to ninety per cent of its body without being killed,” he said. “There’s nothing like that in the animal world. It creates a resilience.”

"One of the most productive areas of plant research in recent years has been plant signalling. Perhaps the cleverest instance of plant signalling involves two insect species, the first in the role of pest and the second as its exterminator. Several species, including corn and lima beans, emit a chemical distress call when attacked by caterpillars. Parasitic wasps some distance away lock in on that scent, follow it to the afflicted plant, and proceed to slowly destroy the caterpillars. Scientists call these insects “plant bodyguards.”

"The hypothesis that intelligent behavior in plants may be an emergent property of cells exchanging signals in a network might sound far-fetched, yet the way that intelligence emerges from a network of neurons may not be very different. Most neuroscientists would agree that, while brains considered as a whole function as centralized command centers for most animals, within the brain there doesn’t appear to be any command post; rather, one finds a leaderless network. That sense we get when we think about what might govern a plant—that there is no there there, no wizard behind the curtain pulling the levers—may apply equally well to our brains."

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/12/23/131223fa_fact_pollan?currentPage=1

shinobu wrote on Jan 2:

plus, plants taste WAY better than animals - I know it by heart as I was born and raised in Japan. No kidding

Lilith wrote on Dec 18:

Anonymous is correct. It is impossible to tell what an eaten apple feels. However, it is possible to tell what an animal feels when you kill it. We know that and that is why there is a big difference.

anonymous wrote on Dec 18:

How possiibly any one can tell what eaten apple felt while being eaten alive and coated with stomach acid?
We are the part of ONE realm. We are not divided into humans, animals, plants, planets, galaxies, etc. This is the essence of the Eastern thought.

Rory wrote on Dec 18:

Gandhi's famous quote is "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Not "the way its fruits and vegetables are treated."

Lilith wrote on Dec 17:

Plants don't feel pain. Animals do. Big difference. Easy to draw the line...

Frances wrote on Dec 17:

Plants and animals are very different in terms of morality and ethics. In the philosophy of animal rights, sentience implies the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Any sentient being (this does not include plants) is entitled, at a minimum, to the right not to be subjected to unnecessary suffering. It is a very simple moral concept.

anonymous wrote on Dec 17:

Yes, the world is very real indeed. I experienced it today while eating apple. My teeth tearing into crunchy green matter only to be swallowed down to the black hole of stomach, where it was attacked by acid. Just like aliens. We don't need to be afraid of them, because we are the Aliens.
Empathy towards animals is correct. But what about fruit and vegetables?
Where do we put a dividing line what to eat and not? Meat, fish, plants, water is all alive. It is morally and conceptually risky to be only content while refusing meat .
All the spiritual systems promise a white open space full of light. However according to my insights it is often a feeling of being a part of boiling chunk of matter moving in a space. Destination unknown. Being so highly manufactured as species, we loose perspective. We built our own illusions to stay sane.
Living in comfort zone not much different than our hero from the movie Truman Show.

 


Nirvana, the Waterfall.

I went to Yosemite National Park, and I saw some huge waterfalls. The highest one there is 1,340 feet high, and from it the water comes down like a curtain thrown from the top of the mountain. It does not seem to come down swiftly, as you might expect; it seems to come down very slowly because of the distance. And the water does not come down as one stream, but is separated into many tiny streams. From a distance it looks like a curtain. And I thought it must be a very difficult experience for each drop of water to come down from the top of such a high mountain. It takes time, you know, along time, for the water finally to reach the bottom of the waterfall. And it seems to me that our human life may be like this. We have many difficult experiences in our life. But at the same time, I thought, the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. Only when it is separated does it have some difficulty in falling. It is as if the water does not have any feeling when it is one whole river. Only when separated into many drops can it begin to have or to express some feeling. When we see one whole river we do not feel the living activity of the water, but when we dip a part of the water into a dipper, we experience some feeling of the water, and we also feel the value of the person who uses the water. Feeling ourselves and the water in this way, we cannot use it in just a material way. It is a living thing.

Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called “mind-only,” or “essence of mind,” or “big mind.” After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.

When the water returns to its original oneness with the river, it no longer has any individual feeling to it; it resumes its own nature, and finds composure. How very glad the water must be to come back to the original river! If this is so, what feeling will we have when we die? I think we are like the water in the dipper. We will have composure then, perfect composure. It may be too perfect for us, just now, because we are so much attached to our own feeling, to our individual existence. From us, just now, we have some fear of death, but after we resume our true original nature, there is Nirvana. That is why we say, “To attain Nirvana is to pass away.” “To pass away” is not a very adequate expression. Perhaps “to pass on,” or “to go on,” or “to join” would be better. Will you try to find some better expression for death? When you find it, you will have quite a new interpretation of your life. It will be like my experience when I saw the water in the big waterfall. Imagine! It was 1,340 feet high!

Shunryu Suzuki. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

 

Leave a Comment (0)

 


Reality and illusion

Thomas Demand/Spruth Magers Gallery, London

A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering. – The Buddha

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
Albert Einstein
 
Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.
Master Zhuang

 

Leave a Comment (1)

H.Kappen wrote on Dec 4:

The Einstein quote is a real twister. Once you make it your everyday koan, it makes your head feel like a luftballon.

 


Study: Progression of Alzheimer´s Slowed by Yoga and Meditation

Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications that can stop the cognitive deteriorating associated with Alzheimer’s disease. But that doesn’t mean that nothing can be done.

A new study conducted at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center shows that practicing meditation and yoga can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

After eight weeks practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation for at least two hours per week, the study group experienced less overall atrophy in the hippocampus and better connectivity in other parts of the brain responsible for memory than the control group, which received regular care.

Read the full story on Huffington Post.

Leave a Comment (3)

shinobu wrote on Dec 1:

Yey! And any more of those visual and audio data of your meditation?? To see if there's any improvement?! (;

Mika wrote on Nov 28:

Coming soon

shinobu wrote on Nov 20:

where are the images of you guys meditating?!

 


The Night

Most of the descriptions of enlightenment refer to a sensation of nothingness – no time. no space, no thoughts. It seems to be a positive place. Most of Buddha figures have a slight and enigmatic smile. Well, one can also visit a different place where you find yourself as a punctum vibrating in a black never ending space. 

It emphasizes the radical contradiction of the human condition itself, between the subject as nothing, as the evanescent punctuality versus the horizon of our world. Here is an extraordinary quote from Hegel. One can only imagine that it was experienced by him in person.
“The human being is this night, this empty nothing, that contains everything in its simplicity—an unending wealth of many representations, images, of which none belongs to him—or which are not present. This night, the interior of nature, that exists here—pure self—in phantasmagorical representations, is night all around it, in which here shoots a bloody head—there another white ghastly apparition, suddenly here before it, and just so disappears. One catches sight of this night when one looks human beings in the eye—into a night that becomes awful.”

—  G. W. F. Hegel, Jenaer Realphilosophie (1805)

Leave a Comment (0)

 


Sculpting in Time

I know of no other filmmaker, before or after Tarkovsky, that devoted so much of their artistic practice to understanding time. The theme is present from his first film on. His book about cinema and art in general is even titled “Sculpting in Time”. About halfway through his career, or at least from “Solaris” on, Tarkovsky began to embed long scenes which double as meditative rituals, both for the viewer and the filmmakers working under his direction. This video, from “Nostalgia”, is one such scene and it does not, thankfully, spoil the ending, which to me is one of the most spiritual moments ever captured on film. 

Leave a Comment (0)

 


Meditation and Singularity

The term “Singularity” has been been popularized by well-known futurist Ray Kurzweil, who argues that with advances in computing and medical and nano-technology, we will be able to transfer our brain (and our consciousness) onto a super-human computer (or computer chip, or other computing device), allowing us to effectively live forever on silicon rather than biology.
 
Naropa (1016-1100) was a Buddhist scholar. He realized the illusory nature of physical reality and finally achieved liberation by seeing the true nature of consciousness and how it attaches to and detaches from the physical body. He systemized the Six Yogas of Naropa and taught them to his disciples.  The Six Yogas, which have been taught primarily in secret over the years, are all about what happens to our consciousness when we go to sleep and when we die.
 
Two of the Yogas, that of Consciousness Transference and Forceful Projection, are directly related to transferring the consciousness of a person who is dying out of the body to “somewhere else” so that it can “live on” in the physical world. According to the literature, adepts at this Yoga were able, at exactly the time of their death, to “transfer” their consciousness out of their body and “forcefully project” it into another living “host” nearby. 
 
So, it seems to me that before we barge ahead trying to transfer our brain’s neural patterns to a physical device, we might want to invite in the experts at consciousness (Tibetan and Indian Yogis) and see if we can learn something from them about how consciousness works both while we’re alive and when we die.  Once we can reproduce the Yoga of forceful projection in a laboratory setting, we could then move on to how we might project our minds onto a superintelligent computing device.
 
This text is loosely based on Wikipedia and writing by Zen Enterprenuer
Leave a Comment (2)

lotus wrote on Nov 20:

Right on anonymous. We are all stardust. It is intuitive feeling felt by some of us. Meditation brings us closer to it.

anonymous wrote on Nov 17:

Love this short piece. After studying Buddhism, Yoga, and Shamanism, I think that people who believe that advances in technology will provide a solution to death are generally unaware of this research above. They also seem unaware that the system we're born in to, which includes death, is already perfect. There is nothing to overcome in my opinion, except this idea of individual identity. We already live forever, just not within one form. Maybe in the end, we get to be everything, at least once, or maybe we already are. So futurists like Kurzweil are simply attached to saving one identity, like wanting one leaf on one tree to last forever without embracing the beauty of the cycle that is the seed and the forest. It seems as banal as that version of heaven where one imagines that they will live on, much like they did on Earth, but in some "other world", forever. Why not just embrace and take care of this one? We might be coming back. Biologically speaking, it would be impossible for you to leave. Your teeth and bones are made of stars.

 


When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions.) [TED Talk]

Leave a Comment (0)

 


“There is certainly nothing more important in life than what we do at the present moment. A person’s entire life consists of nothing more than one moment piled on top of another, over and over again. Once enlightened to this, the warrior has nothing else to worry about, because he realizes that he has only to live in the present moment with the utmost intensity.”

 Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

If the warrior does not feel alone and sad, then he or she can be corrupted very easily. In fact, such a person may not be a warrior at all. To be a good warrior, one has to feel sad and lonely, but rich and resourceful at the same time. This makes the warrior sensitive to every aspect of phenomena: to sights, smells, sounds, and feelings. In that sense, the warrior is also an artist, appreciating whatever goes on in the world. Everything is extremely vivid. The rustling of your armor or the sound of rain drops falling on your coat is very loud. The fluttering of occasional butterflies around you is almost an insult, because you are so sensitive.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Every morning a warrior should recommit himself to death. In morning meditation, see yourself killed in various ways, such as being shredded by arrows, bullets, swords, and spears, being swept away by a tidal wave, burned by fire, struck by lightening, dieing in a earthquake, falling from a great height, or succumbing to overwhelming sickness. 

Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

Leave a Comment (0)

 


Brainwave: Lou Reed + Rob Hogendoorn

Lou Reed took part in the Rubin Museum of Art’s very first Brainwave in 2008 in which he talked about composing, meditation and tai chi. This is a video of highlights of that session.

Leave a Comment (1)

Veevee wrote on Nov 17:

RIP Lou, what an amazing mind and soul he was...and I had no idea he was so into meditation and tai chi!

 

Next Page »