Few installations are designed to ‘empty’ the viewer, most are concerned with filling us with information, but the purpose of ‘The Void’ is precisely that.
The Void, an audiovisual installation that simulates the Big Bang /
Created by the artistic collective Tundra , The Void is an audiovisual installation that tries to transmit Sunyata, the Buddhist idea conveying void, to those who experience it. This endeavour was far from easy, which makes it bold and praise worthy, especially because it aims to move our basic perspective of reality.
In the installation, as in Buddhism, the idea of the void does not represent an absence of everything, instead it is the initial and final state where based on our projections anything can appear. The Void also uses the notion of the Big Bang to impress this idea on viewers.
The team designed a type of personal Big Bang for each of the audience members. This is a 360° video installation that emulates the Big Bang in an abstract fashion. The twist however, is that the room is full of sensors, so that if anyone moves too much, or a phone rings, the projection stops. Once everyone is still again the video will start from the beginning again. The artists’ website describes it as “A social experiment, to see how long today people can stay totally calm”.
You are standing in an empty room. There are no chairs and tables. They were there, but they took them away. There are no monsters from your bad dreams, although, they never were there. You are standing in an empty room, made of little pieces of stardust that carry the emptiness between them. And while breathing in and out, you feel the movement of the emptiness inside you and that the emptiness is you. At this moment you see that the only things which are absent in the room are the impossible ways of existence.
The experience is designed to be a type of induced meditation; to lead the viewer into the Buddhist Śūnyatā. Nonetheless, the idea of Śūnyatā, is fairly hard to define; it is often misconstrued as a word that describes how nothing exist. This, however, is wrong, and The Void understands its true meaning. Śūnyatā states that there is existence, but phenomena are empty of svabhava, a Sanskrit word used to describe nature itself, intrinsic nature, and essence or to the not-self. This means that even if we are not aware of it, we tend to think that all things have an essential nature that makes them what they are. We perceive reality as something that is full of things and distinctive beings. But this understanding of things is merely our perception of them. The Buddhist tradition believes that the phenomenological world is a huge field or nexus that is constantly undergoing changes and what we consider distinctive pieces, things and beings, are merely temporary conditions. The Big Bang is a perfect, albeit somewhat aggressive, analogy of the void described in Mahayana Buddhism.
“The Big Bang, as a cosmological event, is a good illustration of our main idea,” says project manager Bulat Sharipov. “Emptiness, as an initial state, is where everything can occur. So we were trying to create a little personal big bang to every visitor.”
In a world that is designed to distract us, where everyday objects demand our constant attention and where we feel we must exist in more than one place at a time, the sensors in the room function as interventionists that interrupt our constant compulsions. In this sense we can understand The Void to be a laudable project that wants us to stop for a couple of minutes to inhabit the space within us.Tagged: installations, The Void, collective Tundra, art collectives, audiovisual arts, Big Bang, art and science