image preview

Creation Date

Fall 2016


Materials: space-time, foam, stone

The phrase "form is emptiness," extracted from its original Buddhist context, resonates interestingly with the concept of quantum foam theorized in contemporary cosmology. Quantum gravity models predict that space-time is a foaming void where infinitesimal dimensions and particles unfurl and vanish at virtually infinite speeds, rendering them impossible to observe directly. This theory is given visual form as porous petric matter emerging from a sea of packing foam. Weighty tomes of Styrofoam, perhaps suturing the Heart Sutra to quantum physics, are bookended by foam stones of nearly zero mass.

Slow time exercises for this display:

  1. In A Tale for the Time Being, read p. 30 about time being and Appendix A on Zen Moments and Appendix B on Quantum Mechanics.
  2. Make a word cluster of associations around the phrase "form is emptiness." Free-write for 5 minutes about the phrase.
  3. Look at the exhibit for 5 minutes, free-writing any impressions and associations.
  4. Look at the stone closely and then:
    1. Write an objective description of the stone so that someone who has not seen it could visualize it. Describe its size, form, color, and texture.
    2. Describe the "spirit" of the stone—what kind of affect, vibe, feeling, presence does it have? If you were to name the stone, what would you call it?
    3. What thoughts did the stone provoke as you looked at it and write about it?
    4. Watch this short video on quantum foam from NASA.
    5. Write a brief paragraph relating the cabinet exhibit and the concept of quantum foam.
    6. Write a creative or critical composition expressing your vision of "form is emptiness," drawing on any materials you want, or just from your own thinking.
    7. Take photos of the exhibit and write a message about them; post them to your favorite social media channels using the hashtag, #SlowLMU.