Recapitulations of Emptiness, No. 7

carbon, cinnabar, freshwater pearl, gold, laser engraving, opal on paper
31 x 22 inches

Collaborative painting with Timothy C. Ely.


In the fall of 2009, I invited the artist Timothy C. Ely to my studio to make a series of collaborative paintings.  We share interests in many things, including Zen and particle physics.  In one of our conversations that first day, I mentioned that I considered the Large Hadron Collider (the particle collider recently built near Geneva, Switzerland) to be the world's largest enso—the quintessential Zen circle.  An enso is produced to reveal the mental state of its maker and to shed light on the fundamental nature of being; the particle collider was built to understand the most fundamental nature of elementary particles, quantum mechanics, and the deep structure of time and space.  Both enso and particle collider are devises for measuring the Void and the underlying structures of emptiness.

Tim and I mused about how great it would be to place one of our paintings in a super collider and then present it as a painting with invisible particles: a pigment list including upquarks and strange antiquarks, leptons and antileptons, microscopic black holes, as well as the ever-elusive Higgs boson.  Alas, we did not have enough money to fly to Switzerland and, even if we had, the Large Hadron Collider was shut down because of some stray baguette crumbs.  This left us with my studio and paper and brushes and other tools and images of particle tracks through bubble chambers.  The link between Zen contemplation and images of elementary particles became the generative frame for these paintings.