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"my search for a classical form in the emerging medium of digital art" - harvey rayner

Archive for the ‘Zen Art’ Category

Contemporary Zen Art

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Contemporary Zen Art

Master Dogen’s Zazenshin

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Master Dogens Zazenshin

Eihei Dōgen is a famous zen monk who lived in 13th century Japan. In his time he was a great teacher and established the Soto Zen sect in Japan after first training in China for many years under numerous great Buddhist masters. Part of his legacy is the ‘Shobogenzo’ in which contains the chapter called ‘Zazenshin’ which translates as ‘A Needle For Zazen’. Zazen being the type of sitting meditation that forms the core practice of Soto Zen Buddhism. In his translation of master Dogen’s Shobogenzo’, Gudo Nishijima writes the following at the start of the Zazenshin Chapter. “Shin means a bamboo needle that was used for acupuncture in ancient China. So shin means a method of healing the body and mind, and the word came to be used for a maxim that has the power to cure a human being of physical and mental discomfort. Subsequently, the word shin was used to describe short verses useful in teaching the important points of a method of training. In this chapter Master Dogen… …praises a zazenshin by Master Wanshi Shokaku, and finally, he wrote his own Zazenshin.” which is the one you now see above.

Master Dogen’s Zazenshin small

Yoga Sitting Master Icon

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Buddist Yoga Sitting Master Logo

a friend of mine Sipra Pimputkar asked me if i would design a logo for their yoga class. on this occasion the subject interests me so i had a bash although obviously my output is primarily abstract. the logo is not fully resolved yet, but it is close. this theme has been inside me for many years and i have tried on many occasions to bring it into the root2art language and failed. on this occasion the work grow by itself and it only took 20mins to get to what you see here. sometimes when asked to make something with a specific theme i work with greater freedom. may be this way it is more genuinely spontaneous.

i’m now looking forward to making some variations on this theme. i’ve thought for a long while that the image of a figure sitting in meditation is often perceived in the west as intrinsically Eastern. my own feeling is that it is simply intrinsically human. i’ve had the desire to produce an image of the mediator in a more western language – something that those in the west who find meaning in the image to feel as it if is home grown and not imported. one of my own particular interests in art has been studying how the aesthetics of Buddhism has morphed as it has been adopted by different cultures – somewhat like the ego-less monk who adapts seamlessly and effortlessly with his environment whatever it might be.

Geometry Of Space Balls

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Geometry Of Digital Space Balls

the geometry of this ‘model’ is fascinating. i’m finding new relationships and peculiarities all the time. the more i understand it as a whole the more i know what it is that i want to reveal in it. it’s about constantly re-examining what’s there to see what essential and what’s not.

Root2Art Submission To The ‘The Brain Project 2006 – Theme: Borders’

Friday, November 17th, 2006

i’ve submitted a work to an international visual digital art competition organized by the Cultural Association ‘Acquamarina’ Italy. thebrainproject 

the competition calls for a conceptual component on the theme of ‘borders. if you like the conceptual dimension to my work, then you might enjoy reading this:-

i’ve posted the piece on this blog before so i won’t show it again.


Little Man Icon

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Graphic Man Icon

not sure where i’m going with this, but the little man icon, i feel has a lot of potential. driving home from the north of the country the other day after a trip to visit friends and climb, i began to develop an idea for a picture on a theme i could call, ‘Everyone What’s To Be Happy’. An essential element of this picture would be an infinite field of identical little people icons vanishing into the distance. At the heart of the pictures concept is the notion that all living things are united in our common desire to avoid suffering. The sketch above doesn’t reflect what i imagine for this composition, but i’m posting it as part of my new resolution to post the elements of my work as they evolve.

in the sketch above i’m really just exploring the geometry underpinning the icon and finding a strong relationship in the geometry of one icon to the scaled geometry of its neighbour.

Zen In Geometry And Numbers. Geometric Sketch For New Conceptual Work

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Zen In Geometry And Numbers 

See bigger image

I’m not a mathematician and as far as I am aware none of my work has no real mathematical basis. My geometric ‘studies’ are instead based in an intuitive and philosophical affinity with the geometric relationships I have derived my art from over the last decade and a bit.

I have an nerdy obsession with symmetry and this obsession leads me into very abstract areas of thought. I also have a preoccupation with trying to understand the nature of reality. Geometry for me, as it was for the Greeks, is a philosophical language. It is a language that allows me to explore these abstract areas of thought and also give expression to what I find and feel is significant in it. Also, thrown into the mix is the influence of my Buddhist practice and the Buddhist teachings I have read.

The Buddhist concept of void and form, for me within geometry, has a parallel in the concept of infinity and zero. The Buddhist notion of self and relativity also has some expression within geometry as the notion of ‘one’ and symmetry.

The figure above shows how 1 sits at the centre of infinity, and that the progression to infinity and zero from 1 are actually the same thing.. Conventional mathematics gives us a picture of infinity that looks like this:

-infinity….. -5,-4,-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,4,5…… infinity

The picture has zero in the middle and +/- infinity at either end. Infinity in this picture is far away in the distance and can never be shown however far we zoom out.

The Zen view and experience of reality is that the whole universe is here right now in this moment. Taking this concept into the realm of numbers, this universe is infinite as it is simultaneously void of inherent, permanent existence. A Zen axiom is that all things are born and return to emptiness. Now, all magnitudes relative to zero are infinite. Or we could say any number divided by zero equals infinity.

My diagram represents numbers as arcs except number 1 which is a straight line, or rather a portion of an arc of infinite radius.

The inverted figure contains a theoretical progression of all numbers from zero through to infinity with the number 1 shown in the middle. The values shown to the left of 1 are the reciprocal of the values shown to the right.

We thus get a ‘picture’ of reality like this:-


However, the progression to zero is the mirror image of the progression to infinity. This could be seen as a delineation of the Zen notion of ‘all form is void: all void is form’.

Thus we picture the geometry of this as representing:-

0, infinity, 0 or 0, 1, 0

This is all a bit heady and is not intended to be a proof or some absolute representation of the nature of reality. The geometric sketch above is simply my attempt to give an alternative expression to concepts that are very difficult to communicate with the spoken word. When I first started messing around with this geometry many years ago, my own view of relativity and reality shifted in response to what was revealed in the language of the geometry. It may not have shifted any closer to gaining a closer experience of reality, but my revelations seemed profound enough at the time and I figure there could be great potential in geometry to communicate this abstract area of thought and experience.

The work above is a sketch originally intended as personal notes on key geometric relationships. I hope to develop it into a more resolved work of art, but unlike my previous work, i will not be looking to hide the underlying philosophical component, but instead making it central to the work. Much of my work over the last ten years or so contains geometric/philosophical intrigue for me at least, however the language I have used by enlarge was designed to cover up much of what could be potentially elaborated on from a conceptual point of view. This was probably in response to what I used to see as the over conceptualisation of art.
 Inversion Art Geometric Study

Above: Study from around 2000 based on the same geometric relationships shown at the top of the page, but where the potential conceptual component in not explored.