This is a pseudo black and white Chinese painting — perhaps a landscape, or just some blocks, maybe a piece of word. Look at the painting, the white spacing, the overall composition, the blacks. (Hey, I didn’t forget the stamp!) What have you heard?
When we look at Chinese paintings, we not only care about the drawn part, but also the white spaces. I chose to create this piece in this particular style so that the silence ( “Ma” ) is automatically embed. The “painting” is made of Chinese characters 如是我闻, meaning ’So I’ve heard’, but they’re stretched so that they won’t be easily recognized.They’re placed in cluster, horizontally and vertically so as to mimic shapes of a somewhat abstract landscape.
The idea of character stretching came from a work I saw at Eyebeam 2014 Annual Showcase — unfortunately I wasn’t able to find it online. As my memory served, the work took one pixel from famous paintings, enlarges this pixel and put it on half human sized canvas. The painting is there (or a part of the painting) but you just recognize it. I liked this idea but I wouldn’t go too far on it. All I wanted is to slow down the recognition so that people wouldn’t say it out loud or in their mind, but still get the hint from the stretched characters to listen.
如是我闻 is a frequently seen opening word in Chinese buddhist sutra, to indicate that the following content was heard from the buddha.