MomenTech, United States

Residency Period: 1 November 2013 - 30 April 2014


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.

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:

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.




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Interview with Roshi O’Hara (Part 2 of 4)

Sonja Jyakuen Nuttall, Donna Karan, Richard Gere, and Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara
(photo courtesy Urban Zen Initiative)


In this second part of my chat with Roshi Enkyo Pat O’Hara, Abbott of the Village Zendo, we talk about mindfulness and her own introduction to meditation. Click here to read Part 1.

For some people, meditation is about relieving stress. For others, it’s about improving concentration or other brain function. For some, it’s about getting on a path to enlightenment. There seem to be a lot of different ways to get to a meditative lifestyle.

Some of my students come from AA. Some come from Sex Addicts Anonymous. And others come in and their life is fine, but something is missing.

Was something missing for you?

I found that I wasn’t fully expressing my life. I felt that I had  gifts  and I had a hunger to express them. I wanted to break through.

How long did it take for you to break through?

It took a long time, but I tend to overdo things. So when I decided to start, the first thing I did was to go on a 10-day silent retreat. People take years to work up to that, but that’s just kind of my style. It almost killed me, but if you’ve never done that, and then suddenly you just do it, it’s very, very powerful.

Sounds like a trial by fire. Would you recommend that approach?

Well, it depends on the person and how resilient they are.

What was the experience like?

It was wonderful. To finally let go, to sit in silence, to be intimate with myself. What was I afraid of? I was afraid of myself. But I didn’t know that going into it. I realized that my fears were these things I had built up.

Did you feel an immediate effect?

I did. And yet, it’s just like Rinzai and Soto. There was an immediate effect, and then over many years, a gradual clarifying.

So much of a meditative life involves the concept of mindfulness? What does this mean to you and how to do integrate it into your day-to-day existence?

It’s become a very popular term. It’s a huge concept. There are some neuroscientists who are doing great work describing the connection between mindfulness and changes in the fundamental character of the brain. One reason that these findings are so powerful is that for us, as a culture, science is God, our religion. So if science says it’s true, we can believe it. So the concept of mindfulness really emerged from the work of neuroscientists and educators, who found that we can use this technique—meditation—to better educate kids, to help soldiers who are traumatized, to help Google employees relax so they can do better work.

Do you need to be optimistic to be a good Buddhist?

[laughs] No. You can be a pessimist. I’ve got some people here who are real pessimists. They come in and say, “Oh Roshi, don’t say that!” But that’s just the way I look at the world. It’s not the right way. It’s just my way. 

When the Buddha achieved enlightenment, it was just part of a bigger journey that included his own personal conflict.

After achieving enlightenment, he taught for 45 years. And he had to face all kinds of issues. But I would love to have a more contemporary myth about the Buddha, so we could hear some of his problems and so forth. They’ve all been so idealized, but he was confronted all the time with all these questions, and that’s what the teachings are, how he solved various problems. 

The legend of the Buddha as a wealthy prince who was shielded from human suffering who then, upon seeing all the suffering, devotes his life to ending it, shows that it is possible to make a 180-degree change.

That’s right. That’s really true.

Once you achieve a certain level of mindfulness, does it ever go away?

Yes, absolutely. It’s a misconception about Zen teachers like me. We can all make lots of mistakes. It’s not a “fixed-and-done” thing. It is a life. It is a practice. It’s constantly working. And if you stop, you lose it.

Would you say that a synonym for mindfulness is awareness?

Yes, absolutely.

Do you think that the increased interest in meditation and mindfulness is part of a human evolutionary path? 

I think so. I really do. But I’m an optimistic person.


Stay tuned for part 3 of my interview with Roshi O’Hara, in which she explains how Zen Buddhism is unique within the Buddhist practice, Zen art, walking meditation and her “Five Expressions of Zen.” — Reynard Loki


Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara serves as Abbot of the Village Zendo. She received priest ordination from Maezumi Roshi and Dharma Transmission and Inka from Bernie Tetsugen Glassman. Roshi Enkyo’s lineage comes through Maezumi Roshi whose teaching was uncommon, bringing together Soto priest training and study of the Rinzai koan system. Moreover, Roshi Glassman’s focus on social engagement and peacemaking underlies much of her vision of Zen practice. Roshi is a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Family, a spiritual and social action association. Roshi’s focus is on the expression of Zen through caring, service, and creative response. Her Five Expressions of Zen form the matrix of study at the Village Zendo: Meditation, Study, Communication, Action, and Caring.


The Village Zendo is a community of people who come together to practice in the Soto Zen tradition. The Village Zendo offers zazen (sitting meditation), one-on-one instruction with a teacher, dharma talks, chanting services, retreats, workshops and study groups. Co-founded in 1986 by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara and Sensei Barbara Joshin O’Hara, the Village Zendo is committed to authentically continuing the Zen tradition while keeping it contemporary and relevant to today’s world. The Village Zendo is located in lower Manhattan, offering a place of healing and sanctuary in the midst of one of the world’s busiest and most vital cities.


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