Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won

Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won religion machines kinetic sculpture

Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won religion machines kinetic sculpture

Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won religion machines kinetic sculpture

Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won religion machines kinetic sculpture

Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won religion machines kinetic sculpture

Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won religion machines kinetic sculpture

Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won religion machines kinetic sculpture

Meditating Machinery: Mechanical Buddhas and Other Religious Icons by Wang Zi Won religion machines kinetic sculpture

South Korean artist Wang Zi Won constructs intricate mechanical figures of Buddha and bodhisattva that appear to be lost in meditation or enlightenment. The electrically-powered figures are fused with numerous mechanical components which at times resemble halos or lotus flowers and simultaneously move the humanoid figures through repetitive motions (see videos above). The artist says his intention is to examine a future where humans and technology merge, something he views in a particularly positive light. Via Shin Seung-ho of Dukwon Gallery:

The artist predicts that in the future humans will evolve and adapt themselves to enhanced science and technology just as men and animals in the past evolved to adapt themselves to their natural circumstances. He sees this future as our destiny, not as a negative, gloomy dystopia. His work is thus based on neither utopia not dystopia. Wang represents the relations between man, technology and science through the bodies of cyborgs.

The artist considers it important to escape from human bondage in order to achieve harmony between men and machines. He thinks this harmony can be achieved through the process of religious practices and spiritual enlightenment. In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva of Compassion helps people attain enlightenment, Arhat is a spiritual practitioner of asceticism, and Buddha is a being who reaches the highest level of enlightenment. Through them, the artist intends to follow the path of enlightenment, breaking away from anxiety, agony, and pain. The artist has no intention to emphasize religious connotations through these Buddhist icons but to reflect his own or our own existence between utopia and dystopia.

While it may be difficult to grapple with the artists intentions I find the figures and their motions to be really quite beautiful and indeed meditative, somewhat reminiscent of the robots used in Chris Cunningham’s amazing All is Full of Love video for Bjork. If you have some patience (the site loads quite slowly) there are many more examples of Wang’s work and several more videos over on his blog and you can learn more at Art Nova and Hanmi Gallery.