16 × 20 × 4 meters
Acrylic, steel structure and mirror
As part of Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, the work “Across the Universe and Beyond” is a site-specific work at Khao Mor, Wat Arun.
Khao mo is a replica mountain, an imitation of nature created in the living environment of humans. The first of its kind came into existence in Thailand in the Ayutthaya period. The khao mo at Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) was originally built in the reign of King Rama II at the Grand Palace and was relocated to the front of the temple to its north following the command of King Rama III. With reference to the Buddhist cosmology, khao mo represents the Himmaphan, the forest where all living creatures repeat their cycle of birth and death, as told in the story of Tribhumi.
One of the Buddhist chants in the Tribhumi is the Lokavidu (โลกะวิทู), which celebrates the enlightenment of the Buddha. In the Buddha’s time, the term lokavidu, which means “knower of the cosmos,” refers to the Buddha’s enlightenment about the khandha-loka (ขันธโลก), or “the world of aggregates”, which places focus on the inner world, or the self, instead of the outer world, both of which experience endless births and deaths.
As birth and death take place in the Himmaphan that is replicated as khao mo, my attempt to convey a new interpretation of lokavidu is to open up a space where people can become aware of and reflect on their thoughts.
This installation invites people in for an exploration, to take a journey from the world outside to the space inside and look within rather than out of themselves. It leads the focus from the outer world to the inner world, then from self to non-self by asking the following questions:
What are we holding on to?
Is what we see what it is?
Are we no different from the khao mo?
Or aren’t we even cosmic dust, particles in the universe?