23 Chunks of Being:
Gregory Grieve’s Experiments in Transmitting Pure actuality
14. The Buddha Machine (2010)
“Shit on your whole mortifying, imaginary, and symbolic theater!”
― Gilles Deleuze
The Buddha Machine was a collaborative project with the composer Mark Engebretson. On a trip to China, Grieve came across and was inspired by The Buddha Machine, a small musical loop player, created by FM三,the Beijing-based music team of Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian. Roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes, and looking like an old-school transistor radio, the Buddha Machine device features a single toggle switch to cycle through samples, a combined power and volume dial, and an integrated speaker. The name and idea is derived from a popular Chinese device that intones repeating loops of Buddhist chanting. Inspired by Virant and Zhang, Grieve brought back singing bowls from Tibet which were sampled by Engebretson, who in turn created the soundtrack for the film. Performance on the video are by Deborah Egekvist (flute) and Guy Capuzzo (electric guitar).
The images are a mix of found footage from the Library of Congress, as well as screenshots of eyes, and various schematic diagrams collected from the internet. Inspired by the work of the Zen Gardener, Shunmyō Masuno, the goal was to create openings or kenshōs(見性). Ken means "seeing", shō means "nature, essence,” and is usually translated into English as "seeing one's (true) nature", that is, the Buddha-nature or nature of mind. Grieve was also playing with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s theories of desiring-production of the body without organs, which is the full potential for the body and its constituent parts; this includes non-human bodies, such as those of animals and plants. Deleuze Guattari describe the machinic nature of desire as a kind of “desiring-machine” that functions as a circuit breaker in a larger “circuit” of various other machines to which it is connected. Meanwhile, the desiring machine is also producing a flow of desire from itself.