| Tibetan Buddhist
artists conceive their art as rten, a Tibetan word meaning "basis"
or "support": a "bridge" that links physical representations with metaphysical
qualities. Tibetan artists understand both two-dimensional graphic images
(paintings) and three-dimensional structures (temples and statues) as "bodies"
that support a specific deity. Written scripture is similarly thought of
as a support for "speech," or phonetic embodiments. The Stupa (Originally
Shakyamun's reliquary monument) is considered to be the rten of
the invisible Enlightened mind.
Rten along with yeshespa (transcendental existence) and dam tshig pa (the practitioner's inner image, making rten analogous to a mirror image of the practitioner himself) are important keys for solving the riddle of Buddhist logic. Buddhism emphasises the interdependent nature of the phenomenal universe (what Shakyamuni Buddha referred to as the essential analysis of nature: Skt. pratityasamutpada, or dependent arising).
Compare this with modern
computer intelligence. Computers necessarily compartmentalize bits of information
as discreet objects, a kind of "objectism," if you will. This grand assemblage
of disparate but connected electronic "objects" is, in turn, represented
by so-many graphic illusions- icons, menus, charts, etc. Computer intelligence
is practically the antithesis of Shakyamuni Buddha's notion of pratityasamutpada,
or dependent arising.
| From one perspective, the
computer universe is about as idolatrous a creation as one could possibly
imagine. The virtual world is not the real world anymore than an image
of compassion is the practice of compassion. The computer world, the virtual
world, is merely a collection of fictitious icons swimming in a Black Box.
I imagine, instead, a new type of art form, a post-religious, post-computer
art that incorporates the best of both worlds.
Any ordinary computer today
is little more than a very complicated and clever tape recorder, but the
network changes that. Networking individuals to individuals may be in its
infancy now, but it demonstrates a thrilling potential for, at least, one
possible future. The network of humanity suggests a new dynamic, interactive
imagination, a sum greater than the individual parts that make it up. Ultimately,
this planetary imagination need not have shape. It need not have a name.
Individuals could break away from their stilted obeisance to the altar-like
display and, perhaps, achieve a new evolutionary plateau.