All posts by Greg Letson
Bob Dylan: San Francisco Press Conference, 1965, video, 51 min
Bob Dylan’s 1965 San Francisco televised press conference in full. Recorded on 3 December 1965.
This is the only full length press conference by Dylan ever televised in its entirety. The transcript was made from an audio tape of the conference, and the only editing has been to take out statements concerning ticket availability and times of the local concerts – Ralph J. Gleason, Rolling Stone Magazine, December 14, 1967.
When Bob Dylan‘s five concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area were scheduled in December 1965, the idea was proposed that he hold a press conference in the studios of KQED, the educational television station.
Dylan accepted and flew out a day early to make it.
Continue reading Bob Dylan: San Francisco Press Conference, 1965, video, 51 min
Jonathan Franzen Interview: Books Made Me Survive, Louisiana Channel, 2016, video, 33:24
Notes from The Louisiana Channel:
We visited Jonathan Franzen at his California home, where he shared his approach to writing character-driven novels and his thoughts on being a writer in America: “I play for ‘Team Literature’ and so I’m on the lookout for things that threaten the team.”
Franzen had a miserable time at junior high school and felt a need to dissociate, which reading books for hours on end made possible: “… that was how I survived.” Reading gave him a sense of a social life, which he didn’t have much of back then: “You have a community of real people and then you have a community that you form as a reader…”
“Pages are more interesting if you’re blowing something open.” Franzen considers himself to be a character-driven author, and compares creating fictional persons whom the reader will experience as real persons to a sort of drug: “There’s something deeply wonderful about setting out to create a character from scratch.” Moreover, he has come to realise that a writer’s abilities are “not a whole lot bigger than the sum of what you’ve lived, or what you’ve encountered, the people you’ve encountered, the situations you’ve been in, the emotions you’ve experienced.”
Technologically mediated relations are becoming a growing part of our lives, which essentially means that we have “increasing interactions with robots,” which Franzen finds problematic for literature: “I do worry that the power of technology is so strong that we will see fewer people able to find the private space in which to develop a relationship with books.”
Jonathan Franzen (b. 1959) is an American novelist and essayist. His novel ‘The Corrections’ (2001) received widespread critical acclaim and earned him a National Book Award, a James Tait Black Memorial Prize and placed in in the final for a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Franzen is also the author of the novels ‘The Twenty-Seventh City’ (1988), ‘Strong Motion’ (1992), ‘Freedom’ (2010) and Purity (2015).
Jonathan Franzen was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his home in Santa Cruz, California in January 2016.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken Edited by: Klaus Elmer Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016
DEVONTE HYNES & PHILIP GLASS: When You Gonna Get A Real Job?, NPR MUSIC, video 6.5 min.
‘When You Gonna Get A Real Job’: Philip Glass And Devonté Hynes Compare Notes
by THOMAS HUIZENGA
At first glance, Devonté Hynes and Philip Glass might appear like musical opposites. Hynes, the 31-year-old British producer and songwriter who performs under the name Blood Orange, makes hit records with Solange and Carly Rae Jepson. Glass, the 80-year-old Baltimore-born New Yorker who writes operas and film scores, is one of classical music’s legendary artists.
But walk into Hynes’ third floor loft in New York’s Chinatown and you’ll find a photo of Glass on his piano. Hynes, it turns out, is a fan. He discovered Glass’ music by chance as a London teenager, when he bought the 1982 album Glassworks on the strength of its crystalline cover image alone. What he heard after he brought it home transfixed him. Today, he says Glass’ influence “seeps” into his music — the interlocking marimba parts in “Best to You” or the feather light ostinato that ignites “Better Than Me.” Last year, he surprised a few ears when he played excerpts from Glass’ solo piano suite Metamorphosis during a live session on SiriusXM.
This spring, Hynes invited Glass to his apartment where they sat at a piano, compared chords and traded stories. Ninety minutes later, their wide ranging conversation had touched on the pulse of New York City, the pains of striking out on your own as a musician, what role the arts play in society today and Hamilton. Plus about a hundred other ideas.
Perhaps the most potent virtue Hynes and Glass share is an instinctive ear for collaboration. Glass has worked with everyone from Ravi Shankar and Paul Simon to dozens of filmmakers, dancers, poets and visual artists. Hynes moves adroitly, too. These days he pairs up with Sky Ferreira, FKA Twigs, Haim and ballet dancer Maria Kochetkova, but in his teens he joined a dance-punk band named Test Icicles, then moved on to the quirky folk-pop of Lightspeed Champion.
Maybe it’s that willingness to let something unknown percolate into a new idea. And maybe that’s why these two musicians, some 50 years apart in age, decided to meet on a cloudy April afternoon in Chinatown to let yet another intriguing collaboration blossom.
NUNO SOUSA VIEIRA
In sculptures made out of an array of discarded factory materials and old office furniture, the Portuguese artist Nuno Sousa Vieira confronts opposites: consumption and usefulness versus refuse and obsolescence; the mass-produced versus the handmade; function over form versus form over function. Sousa Vieira renders utilitarian materials useless, while referencing their former functions and investing them with new life as sculptural works. Utilitarian objects are repurposed and recycled into poetic, deconstructed geometric forms which subvert yet still refer to their original functional forms and milieus. The transformed objects, devoid of original purpose, often are placed within their original “useful” environments, highlighting the transgressional aspect of their transformations.
“The media daily bombs us with images of ruin and large scale human and urban devastation. The idea of ruin interests me but not its aestheticization or displacement into a sheltered context, be it the exhibition or the comfortable screening in front of our sofas. What interests and concerns me is to recuperate and understand how we can use that physical and symbolic material without causing more waste, re-edifying it, raising it from its ashes. In this context, I choose objects developed for human use like tables, chairs, typewriters, or architecture and construction materials – doors, windows or floor pavement. I consider them raw materials for my sculptures. Although these objects are capable of being used, they were abandoned when the factory shut down. What I want is to get them reintroduced at a visible level. In my practice I replicate industrial procedures because, in my studio as in the factory, the process starts by thinking and experimenting the context – the work space.”
Vieira’s studio is located within an abandoned industrial building in Lisbon, a location filled with items for “relocation and reintegration into a platform of discussion and visibility within the art sphere.”
“The objects I have been developing have an address, Plásticos SIMALA, S.A., Estrada dos Pousos, Pousos, 2410 Leiria, Portugal, and that is the place where they can fully reach their meaningfulness. The elements intervened come from an industrial structure which is now my studio and this is where, along with their fellow objects, that they find their measure and fitting. That space is doomed to disappearance because urban developed so predicted but there is, on my part, an attempt to save and inscribe that place on the map of my artistic practice. On the other hand, this place allows me to achieve an awareness of issues and situations paralleled in our daily lives, such as ruin and abandon. What interests me is not an “aesthetisation” of each one of them but their relocation and reintegration into a platform of discussion and visibility within the art sphere.”
Vieira trained at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon University, where he obtained a master’s degree in Painting and studied for a doctorate. Nuno Sousa Vieira has had a multidisciplinary international career and includes in his projects drawing, sculpture, and the installation of objects he finds.
An interview with Vieira, originally published in Juliet magazine, can be found here.
Nuno Sousa Vieira was born in Leiria (Portugal), in 1971. He currently lives and works between Leiria and Lisbon (Portugal). http://www.nunosousavieira.com/
Galerie Emmanuel Herve, Paris
Drawing Room, Madrid, Feb 2018
João Silvério, notes for exhibition at Empty Cube, Lisbon
DAVID LANG: THE PASSING MEASURES – CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY CHORUS, FEATURED ARTIST, MARTY EHRLICH, CLARINET
The Passing Measures – for bass clarinet, amplified orchestra, and women’s voices – is an ambient and emotionally charged meditation on the passing of time.
“This heartfelt, mournful piece, a wordless, 45-minute quasi-concerto for women’s chorus, bass clarinet, and amplified orchestra, is a welcome surprise from a composer whose always deft and subtle work has often seemed ironic and arch. The clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, conducted by Paul Herbert, provide a dignified performance, giving gentle life to the work’s lustrous waves of color. [This is one of the] best classical albums of 2001.”
– Russell Platt, The New Yorker
“Sits and shimmers gently, like a jeweled pendant turning very slowly in the light.”
– Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
“Lang has created a moody, moving 43-minute experience.”
– Bradley Bambarger, Billboard
David Lang on The Passing Measures
“I think one of the reasons our commercial culture likes all music to be fast and snappy is because in fast music it is much harder to recognize the passing of time. You listen to the tunes, to the catchy phrases, but you are not allowed to feel just how time slips away. Fast music is stirring, optimistic – that is why we are bombarded all day by active, energetic music that tries to make us buy things or do things or think things. Slow music, on the other hand, is good for contemplation but is terrible for business, so you don’t get much of it in your daily life. More and more I have become convinced that one of the noblest things you can do in a piece of “serious” music is to allow for an experience that can’t happen in your everyday life. The Passing Measures is that kind of experience.
My piece is about the struggle to create beauty. A single very consonant chord falls slowly over the course of forty minutes. That is the piece. Every aspect of the piece is on display, however – magnified, examined, amplified, prolonged. The soloist’s notes are impossibly long, requiring frequent drop-outs for breath and for rest. The players are all instructed to play as quietly as possible, and then are amplified at high volume, in order to make their restraint an issue of the piece. Four percussionists scrape pieces of junk metal from start to finish, as if to accompany the consonance of the chords with sounds of dirt and decay.
The Passing Measures is dedicated to the memory of Bette Snapp.
PAVEL KOSENKO, RUSSIAN STREET PHOTORAPHER: INTERVIEW, from Leica Liker.com
PAVEL KOSENKO, Moscow (Russia) Street Photographer
Leica Liker is honored to have Pavel Kosenko, a Moscow (Russia)Street Photographer as our #17 guest.
I first discovered Pavel Kosenko through his Russian website http://www.pavel-kosenko.livejournal.com. No, I can’t read Russian but Pavel is a blogger and photo discoverer himself. I came upon his post from another post of “4 x 5” Kodachromeslides of the American war effort during World War 2. They are stunning examples of color and subject matter by industrial and military photographers. You can check it out here. It was from there that I found Pavel.
What drew me to Pavel’s work is his sense of color. When you look at his images, you can just eat the colors. They are exquisitely rich and velvety or harsh and poppy. It’s as if he took them with Kodachrome, except it’s digital.
Pavel talks about the harmony between colors. He is devoted to the study of color. Not just with color wheels but how master painters, who have command of color, are able to combine colors to compliment each other.
Many of us start by contrast of forms, objects, composition, shadows and irony within the frame of story telling. Pavel on the other hand starts with color and in a way, emotions. Not emotions like happy or sad, but a kind of internal stirring. If you study many of his photographs, they are simple observations. Yet some of them have a subtle yet powerful complexity to them because of the variety and depth of colors. His colors define details that would have been overlooked had the image been too contrasty or over exposed. So you are pulled into the image wanting to explore every corner. That’s not to say that sometimes Pavel also loves to make colors pop in high contrast shots. But when he is able to capture the digital version of that ‘Kodachrome’ magic, I can’t stop poring over every pixel of his photographs.
Here is my interview with PAVEL KOSENKO:
Nick Name: No, I just have my real name – Pavel Kosenko.
Currently living in: Moscow, Russia
Motto: “You can only be happy here and now.”
Street Photographer since: 2011
Organizations or Group: None
What do you do as a photographer professionally?Technically photography does not pay my bills. I do many things to pay the bills as a photographer. For instance, I organize photography tours in a variety of countries like Turkey, Vietnam, etc.. I also teach master classes in color for photographers. I have written a book, titled THE LIVING DIGIT, which is presently only published in Russian. I want to translate it into English to get a larger audience.
I also do color consulting for print. I have a small photography school in Moscow. I have a popular blog with 15,000 readers and 50,000 views posts per day. I have people who pay advertising on my blog. Camera companies give me cameras to use to write reviews about. I also have projects that are photography related. I have a friend in advertising who thinks my sense of color could be utilized in film. As you can see, I do a lot of things.
Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Canon EOS 1D X with Canon 35 mm f/1.4 lens, Canon 50 mm f/1.2 lens
Back-up Street Camera & Lens: Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon 18 mm f/2.0 lens
What and when was your first camera? Zorki Russian camera. I don’t remember the number.
Favorite photography gadget: iPhone 5
Favorite street food: Italian
Do you listen to music while shooting? Sometimes, but not often.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos:Royksopp, Delinquent Habits, Moloko, Cypress Hill, Depeche Mode, Die Antwoord, Pink Floyd, Royksopp, Django Reinhardt, Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show 🙂 etc.
Favorite photo software: RPP (Raw Photo Processor)
3 Favorite Master Photographers: Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: The same
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? Unfortunately, I don’t have any.
Color or Black and White? Color
Shoot Film or Digital? Basically digital because film does not have the abilities that digital has to offer. With digital, I have more possibilities to push the limits of color as well as provide the best quality. But sometimes I play with film because is has an inherent aesthetic component which digital does not have. Film allows me to improve my visual experience and I try to apply what I learn in my digital work.
If Film, what type of negative? Last time I used film it was Kodak Ektar.
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? Any time. But lately I like to shoot without sun light (in the evening and with candlelight in rooms).
How do you define street photography? Exactly like Henri Cartier-Bresson defines it.
How did you get into photography? Actually my life was originally not destined for photography. I was born in the small Russian town of Protvino in the Moscow region. It has around 37,000 people. Protvino is a town of scientists. The main business is the research institute. It’s a tradition for young people in this area to go to the Moscow Physics Institute to become a scientist. The parents force their children to follow their footsteps. I left because I studied in Moscow at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute where I was for 1-1/2 years. But after attending the institute, I realized I needed to be creative. I went to music school for 5 years instead. After that I realized music was not my thing.
When I was 6 years old my father gave me a camera. I was shooting everything from family to friends, but primarily for myself only. While I was in music school I figured out photography was my where my passion and interest lied.
What is it about the medium photography that attracts you? What are you trying to express in photography? For me it’s like drugs. I need it. I wake up and grab my camera. Or I switch on the computer and search for photographic images. I need to improve my visual experience all the time. Even when I was studying physics and music, I was taking photographs. Sometimes I leave my camera at home and then I have to have it a few days later.
Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? I did not choose only Street Photography. It was my interest for the last 2 years, but I like art photography too. I try to mix it up.
What motivates you to photograph the streets? My interest in ordinary people and their lives.
Is Street Photography an obsession? I think yes.
Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? Both
Are you an invisible photographer or visible? Visible. I like to communicate with people. I believe that photographer cannot be invisible. You can’t shoot outside and think you have no effect on it. Each photographer sees his own particular way. We all get different photographic results, even if we all shoot the same place and in the same direction.
Favorite street photography city: Istanbul
What inspires your photography? Art, especially by Russian painters. I was a jazz musician in my past life. Although, I haven’t played the guitar for 6 years, the idea of art as an expression of me is extremely important. I love music. Sometimes I shoot while listening to music in my headphones. It is important what I listen to because the combination of the music and what I shoot is the process of my artistic expression.
Here are some painters I look to for inspiration: Konstantin Korovin (http://pavelkosenko.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/constantin-korovin/), Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Victor Borisov-Musatov, Nicholas Roerich, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Alexandr Rabin, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexandr Zavarin, Caravaggio, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, etc.
Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I think it is better to quote Gueorgui Pinkhassov: “Shoot the bad pictures, you might get a good one.”
What is your style? I don’t think I have a style. Often photographers don’t see what they see. It takes others to see what the photographer saw. My reaction to my fotos is often much too critical, sometimes dismissing good shots. I need to have a curator.
In general, I look for color and “chiaroscuro”. I am interested in light and dark colors. For showing light we need dark. I experiment in colors, dark, light. I always think about dark and light in my color compositions.
How has it changed over time? I think like everyone, I took travel photos first. After that I realized that they were good but they were like postcards. You know, National Geographic-type. It’s the first level of photography that everyone reaches. I realized I had to go to next level. I then went to one town and stayed a long time whereas before, I stayed 1 day in each town like a mindless tourist. I extended it to 3-4 days to a week. At first, I responded to anything exotic. For instance, if you come to Moscow, your first day would be spent at the obligatory Red Square. It’s not a deep level of understanding of our city. It’s only after spending a year can you have a chance to see life that’s not at a touristic level. I consider myself now at 2ndlevel. I’ve been to Vietnam 9 times now. At first 2 weeks, then 2 months at a go. In the beginning, it was ‘pop’ like Britney Spears. Now it’s more impressionistic because I am getting the feel of the real Vietnam. SO I would say my style has moved from travel photography, to street photography and it’s moving towards art photography. I am more interested in impression and not information. I call it art.
What do you look for in a good photograph by others? What makes a color photograph look good? I don’t look for anything specific in other photos 🙂 I rely only on feelings. I am drawn to pictures with vivid colors, but I like b/w pictures too. With colors, I like harmony and rich variation (not many difirent colors, but many variation with lightness and saturation). And I don’t like supersaturation. In b/w I like geometry, texture and rich variation of shades of gray. Composition for me does not matter, because it is pseudo-science. The important thing is feelings and emotions.
How does color play a role in photography? Funny you should ask. My book THE LIVING DIGIT is exactly about that. When modern photographers look for colors they go to post production books to study histograms. This is the wrong way. The main idea in the book is to question the colors you find in museums. I mean, you need to study color through painters and history of art. Study the visual experience. After you have enough visual experience, your eyes can actually see what colors are in harmony and what not. And what works with each other. Then you can use digital tools to help you. It is about the aesthetics of color. In my book I start off with psychology of perception. I write about saturation and perception of colors – blue works better in dark regions while yellow is better in light situations. For example, I show how people normally see and perceive, from art to post production. Then I show the ‘art’ of perception followed by raw files and how it works. I use language of the modern digital photographer to explain a complex language in simple photo language. I talk about this in my master class.
How do you go about shooting a street photograph?Sometimes I like to sit at a café and watch for around 1-3 hours. I see. I look. If I find an interesting background, I wait for some people to walk into my frame. But some times, I like to talk to people. For instance, last time I went out to shoot, I walked on the street and immediately spoke with people; to connect with them and to learn about their lives. While we were talking I noticed they had relaxed. That’s when I took a relaxed portrait of them. Not passport photos. Of course it’s very important for me to form interesting geometric frame. So while I’m talking to them, I am constantly looking for an interesting viewpoint. I am more interested in the art of the shot and not the classic street frames. So my shots tend not to be classic street captures. Sometimes it’s just the color. I like to take impressionistic images. For instance, Vietnam before bedtime. That’s the direction I am more interested in.
Can you describe the entire process of photographing these photos, from preparation to when you pressed the shutter button? I took this picture in Colombo. It was the last day of my two-week trip to Sri Lanka. By this time I thought every shot I made were all “masterpieces”. I just walked around the city with a camera in hand, and assumed the images would somehow make interesting photo-stories. As always, I am interested in texture and color. So when I walked past the garbage, I took about ten shots, not counting on any one to make a good photograph. But when I worked the Raw-files, I saw a good picture. It was interesting, not only in color, but the scene itself (crows and cats).
In this photo (below), what is interesting is not so much the picture but the story behind this woman. Her name is Kulipa. She lives in the village of Jeti-Oguz on Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. She is 80 years old and raised 11 children in the one-room apartment with total area of about 30 square meters. Now her kids have grown up and gone to different cities and countries, but sometimes they come to visit their mother. They come with their wives, husbands and children, so in this tiny apartment sometimes there are 20-35 people. In this case, sleeping on the floor, one next to each other. It sleeps 10 people, therefore 10 or more are awake. They all take turns sleeping.
I managed to get into the Kulipa’s house, because I was working on a project in Kyrgyzstan at the time. The project was linked to the search for information about Soviet astronauts who trained at the local air force base. Kulipa worked at the base as a cook from 1960 to 1970.
I was visiting Kulipa for many hours. We looked over all of her family photo albums. She told me a lot about her life. We drank tea. After 2 hours she was used to me and stopped paying attention to my camera. That’s when I snapped the picture.
How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? This is the most complicated process. On the selection of photos I spend 100 times more time than processing them. I try to focus only on my gut feeling.
Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Stay in the moment. Use mostly wide angle lenses. Treat people well.
Best single advice on how to improve your work: Visit the museum and look at paintings.
Best single advice on how to edit your work. Excuse yourself from work and go shoot some photographs.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Study the classic street photographs.
What’s the best moment in your street photography career? I do not have a career in street photographer. I shoot for pleasure.
What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? See the answer to the previous question.
What projects are you working on? Now I’m interested in a whole series rather than single shots. It’s the direction I am taking.
Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I am not sure that in 5 years I would do exactly street photography 🙂
Are there exhibitions planned in the future? I am not ready for a serious personal exhibition. However, I have been repeatedly invited to participate in group exhibits. As soon as I’m ready to show a body of work, I’ll do it.
Leica Liker thanks Pavel for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in with him in the future.
You can check out Pavel’s book here.
You can check out Pavel’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.
How To Be Confident, by The School Of Life, video, 5min
The clever folks at The School Of Life produced this witty animated tutorial on Self-Confidence. “The fastest route to confidence is to stop being so attached to one’s dignity and seriousness; and plainly admit that one is – of course – an idiot. We all are.”
Shugendô & Japanese Mountain Asceticism, pt 2: Self-Mummifying Monks, the Sokushinbutsu Documentary, 50min
Sokushinbutsu (即身仏) refers to a practice of Buddhist monks observing Asceticism to the point of death and entering mummification while alive. This process of self-mummification was mainly practiced in Yamagata in Northern Japan between the 11th and 19th century, by members of the Japanese Vajrayana school of Buddhism called Shingon (“True Word”). The practitioners of sokushinbutsu did not view this practice as an act of suicide, but rather as a form of further enlightenment.
It is believed that many hundreds of monks tried, but only 24 such mummifications have been discovered to date. There is a common suggestion that Shingon school founder Kukai brought this practice from Tang China as part of secret tantric practices he learned, and that were later lost in China.
A mountain-dwelling version of Buddhism called Shugendō emerged in Japan as a syncretism between Vajrayana, Shinto and Taoism in the 7th century, which stressed ascetic practices. This tradition continued through the Edo period. One of its ascetic practice was Sokushinbutsu (or Sokushin jobutsu), connoting mountain austerities in order to attain Buddha-nature in one’s body. This practice was perfected over a period of time, particularly in the Three Mountains of Dewa region of Japan, that is the Haguro, Gassan and Yudono mountains. These mountains remain sacred in the Shugendō tradition to this day, and ascetic austerities continue to be performed in the valleys and mountain range in this area.
In medieval Japan, this tradition developed a process for Sokushinbutsu, which a monk completed over about 3,000 days to ten years. It involved a strict diet called mokujikigyo (literally, “eating a tree”). The diet abstained from any cereals, and relied on pine needles, resins and seeds found in the mountains, which would eliminate all fat in the body. Increasing rates of fasting and meditation would lead to starvation. The monks would slowly reduce then stop liquid intake, thus dehydrating the body and shrinking all organs. The monks would die in a state of jhana (meditation) while chanting the nenbutsu (a mantra about Buddha), and their body would become naturally preserved as a mummy with skin and teeth intact without decay and without the need of any artificial preservatives. Many Buddhist Sokushinbutsu mummies have been found in northern Japan and estimated to be centuries old, while texts suggest that hundreds of these cases are buried in the stupas and mountains of Japan. These mummies have been revered and venerated by the laypeople of Buddhism.
One of the altars in the Honmyō-ji temple of Kyushu prefecture continues to preserve one of the oldest mummy of the Sokushinbutsu ascetic named Honmyōkai.
There is the existence of at least one “self-mummified” 550-year-old corpse of a Buddhist monk named Sangha Tenzin in northern Himalayan region of India, visible in a temple in Gue village, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. This mummy was discovered in 1975 when the old stupa preserving it collapsed and it is estimated to be from about the 14th century, well after Islamic rule had arrived in India, and Buddhism had practically vanished there. The monk was likely a Tibetan dzogpa-chenpo practitioner and similar mummies have been found in Tibet and East Asia. The preservation of the mummy for at least 5 centuries has been possible due to the aridity of the area and cold weather.
According to Paul Williams, the Sokushinbutsu ascetic practices of Shugendō were likely inspired by Kūkai – the founder of Shingon Buddhism, who ended his life by reducing and then stopping intake of food and water, while continuing to meditate and chant Buddhist mantras. Ascetic self-mummification practices are also recorded in China, but it is associated with the Ch’an (Zen Buddhism) tradition there. Alternate ascetic practices similar to Sokushinbutsu are also known, such as public self-immolation (auto cremation) practice in China, such as that of Fayu in 396 CE and many more in the centuries that followed. This was considered as evidence of a renunciant bodhisattva.
Vik Muniz: Equivalents, an artist profile by MoMa
“When you look at a picture with a certain degree of ambiguity, your perception heightens it,” explains artist Vik Muniz in this short film about the inspiration behind his “Equivalents” series.