project image
Matthew Wilson

first performed on September 5, 2014
Mana Contemporary, Chicago, IL
performed once in 2014


Benjamin Scott

Chicago, IL


“Zen for Digital” is an investigation of silence, interaction, and nothingness. A white image was projected onto a white wall. The brightness of this visual was mapped to the volume of the audience in the space for a duration of three hours.

The performance was devised as a response to the act of silencing, in which a piece of art can exist only under the condition of silence. Herein lies the complication of the impossibility of true silence, as explored by John Cage. The piece’s title is a reference to Nam June Paik’s work Zen for Film, in which the medium is stripped down to its most bare, formalistic elements. In my digital rendition, minimalism and boredom manifest themselves as a call and response from the audience, a gratification of our existence through technology.

I was also unable to be present for the performance and had a proxy body in the space during the performance. Much of the generation of the work was in consideration of my body’s absence. This further pushes the focus on zen and the absence that fills, realized by the projection of a white image onto a white surface.

The flickering image was also recorded, serving as an abstract, silent video documentation of volume for a space during a specific time, without any of the actual content of that volume.