Buddhaverse Variations: Chod Dakini Tara Portrait

As my last "before and after" posting showing a source / reference "static" image used as the basis for a video haiku, I chose to offer one of my favorite Buddhaverse Variations to serve as a catchy lead-in to this batch of posts about my new series of short video animations.

The source image (from 2014-15) is a diptych showing Tara (on the right) and a Chod Dakini (on the left). 

Chod Dakini & Tara 

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Buddaverse Variations: Jewel Tree

This post is a "before and after" showing source images and one of the haiku animations inspired by them. The "before" images (from 2010) take the form of a protective Thangka referred to as a 'Jewel Tree' - a graphical lineage tree depicting a personalized chain of ancestors and teachers. (In this case, the first  image - Jewel Tree 2 - includes my parents, my grandmother, and teachers such a the Dalai Lama and Terence McKenna. The second image - Jewel Tree 1 - shows me embodied as a teaching Buddha in the form of Avalokiteshavara.) 

Jewel Tree 2

Jewel Tree 1

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As a matter of interest, please check out earlier static work (from 2017) where I first started to "glitch the image." I feel the animated haiku versions are more effective / interesting with the individual visual components being independently processed before layering, and with the inclusion of a meditative sound track. What do you think?

BUddhaverse Variations: 21 Taras

This post is another "before and after" showing the source image and one of the haiku animations inspired by it. The "before" is a healing  and protective Thangka from 2005 showing a gathering of 21 Taras (of various colors: red, white, blue, green, yellow).

21 Taras

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Buddhaverse Variations: Vajrayogini

This post is a "before and after" showing the source image and one of the haiku animations inspired by it. The "before" is a Thangka from 2008 showing Vajrayogini drinking blood within a 6 pointed yantra (3d merkaba) surrounded by protective entities and other symbols.

Vajrayogini Medicine Thangka

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Buddhaverse Variations: Medicine Buddha

I created a number of "static" versions of the Medicine Buddha in the past. I especially liked the use of the golden frame with imprints of herbal remedies used on the square formatted Medicine Buddha portrait. I decided that this could serve as the framework for some video haikus in my Buddhaverse Variations series. 

The square Medicine Buddha is shown surrounded by Dakinis and other protective beings. In front lie a number of offerings, some typical (such as the 'good luck' balls and medicine urn), others more esoteric  and shamanistic (skull, mushroom, merkaba) included with a nod toward Tantric practice and its Bon roots. The offering items shown here have been used as visual elements throughout the new haikus.

Medicine Buddha with Offerings
Medicine Buddha With Offerings

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Buddaverse Variations: In The Beginning

As I began to work on my new set of Tibetan inspired digital glitch animations ('haikus'), it seemed like a natural starting point to harken back to some of the Forest Guardian anims from last year as a starting point. Below are a couple of early Buddhaverse Variations haikus paired with examples of the Forest Guardian anim(s) that they derived from.

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Forest Gods 11

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What Comes Next?

After showing samples of my first batch of digital glitch animations at the Upstream Gallery last fall, I was asked what was next? Since I had just completed jungle animals, nature spirits, and forest guardians (so called 'gods' and 'goddesses') as subject matter, why not try something with Tibetan Buddhist imagery which so much of my art work has been based upon? I thought that made sense, but just couldn't get my head around exactly how to approach this... 

It was months into the pandemic playing with various IOS apps before I hit upon with a visual approach of image glitching of the source material that actually excited me. I thought it embodied the sense of energy auras that is illustrated in Tibetan art, esp. protective / wrathful entities.

Charnel ground skeletons

Playing around further with other apps, I hit upon this preset that provided blue auric flames and variable glitching. This was exactly what I had been looking for! Here are a couple of examples:



Ultimately, this got my creative juices unblocked and I decided to build up a library of glitch-processed 'components' (figures, objects, backgrounds drawn from my previous static Thangka and Mandala work) which could then be composited together in a Photoshop timeline along with audio tracks (chants and other meditative sounds) to form the basis of a new series of short digital animations.

After working on the first 20 or so animation 'haikus,' I decided to name the series "Buddhaverse Variations" as it became apparent that one visual idea was naturally leading to another variant, sort of like a digital sketchbook. Currently I have 125 haikus (short animations) which collectively run to about 49 minutes of program time (including short interstitial titles for each haiku). I plan to exhibit these using a wide-format digital frame (capable of playing 1080p format resolution videos) as I did previously at the Upstream Gallery last year.

Please Stand By


More excepts from digitized library of my Experimental Television Center analog processed video footage [t.k.]

Would-be Wobbulator

The video below (from which IOS app, I sadly now forget - perhaps Kino Glitch?) is the closest I've been able to achieve to a simple H axis wobbulator raster FX performed in the digital realm.

Compare this to an actual Wobbulator raster FX (Nixon portrait) posted previously.

ETC Sample Footage: Ghost Walker

This is an example of footage I compiled and processed at ETC under the topic heading of 'Dreamtime'. It seems very hallucinatory or perhaps like a shamanic journey vision. The source footage was recorded at Storm King Art Park. Processing included the greytone 'wobbled' imagery rescanned from the Paik-Abe Wobbulator and keyed over the original. In this preset, the Wobulator control signals were set to create only a slight ripple in the horizontal scanlines, rather than creating a fully distorted 3D 'wrapped raster' effect. (This effect would be almost impossible to generate via today's digital apps.)

ETC Sample Footage: Tide Pools

 This is an example of footage I compiled and processed at ETC under the topic heading of 'tide pools' recorded originally at Point Reyes seashore in Marin County, CA. Colorization, frame buffering,  slowmo, and luma-key processing was applied to the anemones in the pools as waves came rushing in and flowed back out. There is one spot in this sample (00:55) where the chaotic water becomes totally abstract, finally resolving into bubbly foam. (This is an example of an analog image processing preset that could be replicated today with digital apps.)

ETC Sample Footage: Halloween Diaspora

This is an example of footage I compiled and processed at ETC under the topic heading of 'diaspora' to eventually make use in a video about dislocation due to environmental or political disruptions. The original footage was recorded during a Halloween parade in Oswego, NY (where the Experimental Television Center was located) during one of my residencies there. Of particular interest is the red/blue alternating colorization being triggered by a low frequency square wave controlling the signal processing. Also, note the great high-contrast scan line graininess possible thru use of rescan.

PS: note the great skeleton zombie carrying rifle costume on the young boy walking this his father (at around 00:45).

ETC Sample Footage: Rowing on a Lake of Flames

This is an example of footage I compiled and processed at ETC under the topic heading of 'rowing a boat' to eventually make use in a video about death, Bardo, and spiritual transition - the core symbolism of rowing being from the Greek myth of the Boatman Acheron rowing newly deceased souls across the River Styx into the Hell realms.

After A Long Pandemic Pause

After a long pandemic pause, I'm back to posting new stuff on my Image Maya blog. You might ask what have I been doing? Actually, I've spent the time quite resourcefully pulling together a complete system to digitize all of my library of video tapes that have languished in a cupboard for way too long... My tape library starts back in the early 1980's with my first 1/2" Beta portable unit (from CTL Electronics in lower Manhattan (my old Tribeca loft neighborhood). After a handful of well-used Beta portables, I jumped in the Hi8 bandwagon - smaller, lighter weight, better quality (?). Then off to digital DV land when that format became available. Meanwhile, as a vidiot producing video art work in the 80's and early 90's, I did all my Master productions on an industrial A/B roll 3/4" U-matic system. 

Needless to say, I faced hundreds of hours of video inventory from my travels around the world to digitize. On top of that, I had over 60 3/4" reels of image processed footage from my residencies at the Experimental Television Center (ETC). These are what I consider to be the 'crown jewels' from the days of analog video processing using tools such as the Jones Colorizer, the Paik-Abe Wobbulator, and other signal processing and keying devices. At the time, the only digital device available at ETC was an one-of-a-kind Jones Frame Buffer (which did just that - buffered a set of video frames for looping, freeze framing, and delaying). Of course, key to the whole production process was using video cameras to rescan off of monitors which allowed for multiple levels of processing effects (way beyond simple feedback). In the case of the Wobbulator, a raster distortion device manipulating H & V frequencies of a CRT display, the only way to actually make use of its range of processing effects was by rescan. (In any case, in hindsight there was a whole lot of glitchy / processed stuff one could easily do in the analog  realm that have no direct analog in digital software-based processing. Exhibit A: the Wobbulator, which became my favorite tool.)

The process in the ETC studio for me involved selecting source footage from my video library and passing that thru the various hot-patched processing devices, and finally back to tape. Because of the analog nature of the controls, real time modifications and tweaking (playing around with settings and patches) was the norm. So typically once a record tape got rolling, a long 5-15 minute 'play' session would resulted. Fine. But of course, unlike many other video folks engaged in image processing triggered by music or electronic sounds (think of early Mudd Club visual music stuff), I was interested not in the durational / abstract / generational element of the process, but rather in generating 15-30 second, perhaps 2 minute long processed segments to incorporate into my video narratives.

With that as background, I decided the shutdown provided me a window of time to digitize my source videos before the inevitable wear of time made the tapes unplayable physically, either due to tape decay or unavailability of obsolescent decks to play such. I calculated that I'd need around 6TB of storage for all of my material, stored at DV's equivalent to pre-HD analog resolution: 720x480. And lots of time - as digitizing tapes is by its very nature 'real time'. Plus, I wanted to create a tape index of locations, subjects, and scenes to make finding interesting material possible in the virtual haystack. (I have started by using EXCEL spreadsheets, with a goal of creating a true relational database... sooner than later...)

And of course, every video deck I owned needed repair servicing after being idle in the closet for 20+ years. Or I had to buy something off EBAY...

So all of that has been taking time.

But that's not all - I've also been working on a series of digital glitch animations based upon my Tibetan Buddhist art. But more on that in a later posting.

For now, I want to post several short video excepts from some of the ETC processed footage. 

Paik-Abe Wobbulator

Image of a color Paik-Abe Wobulator under development
Image of an experimental color CRT Wobbulator being built at Signal Culture labs.

Wobulator image - Nixon
Wobbulated still image of Nixon

sequence of still Wobulated images - self portraits
Animation of a sequence of still Wobbulated images


All Glitched Up

Check out my All Glitched Up blog. Enjoy!

I've finally started posting to my long-dormant Tumblr blog - filling it with various samples of glitched projects & experiments. These don't necessarily fit in with the spiritual self-discovery and shamanic themes of Image-Maya, but still,  I wanted a place to share / document other stuff I have been producing.


Show of animation work at Upstream Gallery

The show runs from Jan 30 - Feb 23 (Thur-Sun 12:30-5:30) at the Upstream Gallery

As described in recent posts on this blog, my current digital photo-composite series Forest Gods and Jungle Spirits (2018-2020) continues an ongoing visual investigation of the flow of divine energies 'hidden in plain sight' in the world around us. The faces and forms of our own shared, yet dimly recalled, lineage ancestors and protective totem spirits are discernible within the leafy canopy of the old growth forest or within the darkly camouflaged jungle understory.

For this gallery show, I have loaded a digital frame with a collection of short 10-20 second animations based upon the Forest Gods and Jungle Spirits compositions, adding sound and motion to embody the ebb-and-flow of our connection to these hidden energies surrounding us. I've also utilized a range of ‘glitch’ image tools to help evoke the sensation of our too often ‘noisy’ connection with such ancestral beings/energies.

Photography 2020, a national juried exhibit

Jungle Spirits Revealed

As described in a previous set of postings (Hidden Nature,  Hidden Nature #3) I created a panoramic jungle screen within which to place / hide totem spirits and ancestral figures. At the time I wrote that the adjacent and overlapping leaf patterns are perceived as 'symmetrical totemic / figurative forms.  The impact [is] similar to Rorschach inkblots. If you look carefully (in the enlarged images) you may begin to resolve images of figures and animals concealed in the jungle.'

I noticed that uncovering the hidden figures within shared digital reproductions (e.g.; smaller JPG files) was difficult for many viewers... That figure-ground issues challenging the viewer was fundamental to the work, after all. This could be understood as a metaphor for ongoing 'search & discovery' underlying shamanic and meditational practices.

In the back of my head ever since the Jungle Panoramas were completed, I've envisioned them as coming to life in a way that would shift focus between concealing and revealing the various underlying figurative elements. Of course, hopefully not 'over revealing' so as to maintain some of the mystery.

Hidden Panthers Redux

Here are some new Rorschach panther totem visions. These animations came about as I played around with adding motion via animation to my previous Jungle Panoramas - as described in post above. (Previous Panther visions here.)


Enlightenment According to Robert Anton Wilson

From The Psychedelic Salon podcast #289 "The Lost Studio Session"

RAW is referring to the nembutsu, Shin Buddhism’s central practice. The nembutsu is a short chant—Namu Amida Butsu—that means “I entrust myself to the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life.” The attributes of light and life are understood as standing for great wisdom and compassion, which are embodied in Amida Butsu (Sanskrit, Amitabha Buddha). In the traditional sutras ascribed to the historical Buddha, Amida is described as existing in a Pure Land, a realm of bliss that is very close to nirvana, or complete liberation.

Quoted from: Tricycle Magazine SPRING 2009, "The Buddha of Infinite Light and Life," by Jeff Wilson