"Dream of the Gold Flower" enlightenment automat

2002. When I was invited to participate in an event with a “Science Fair” theme, I thought of making something that played with meditation which I was doing a lot of at the time.

There's an ancient Chinese text called the Secret of the Golden Flower. It describes a meditation where you picture gold light going in your head and out your toes, and darkness, like a river, going in your toes and out your head.

My mock science project was about getting there more quickly.

I built an “Enlightenment Automat.” The presenter explains the Golden Flower meditation and its promises, “If you do this every morning and every night for 100 days, you have the dream of the golden flower. At that point, you've reached enlightenment and get all the benefits: focus, clarity, no more fear of death, bliss... things anyone would want,” but admits, “It's so time consuming!”

Then the product is presented, “We have discovered that the seed pods of the golden flower contain a concentrated form of the enlightenment energy. We have a group of people who are good at meditating on a meditation farm, and when they Dream the Golden Flower, we are able to harvest the seed pods. And it turns out, when you eat the seed pods, you reach enlightenment instantaneously.”

At that point the audience member is encouraged to put some money into the automat, which opens the door, and they can try the “Seed Pod.”

(The “seed pods” are actually quite delicious. They are a cream puff, with marzipan inside. In this first presentation of the piece, my friend Andrea and I actually made our own puffs and marzipan, but it works just as well with frozen cream puffs and store-bought marzipan. It’s a delicious combination, like a Swedish “princess cake.”)

event: La Fete du Sisk 

theme: Science Fair 

currated by:Phillip Ouellette 
date: August 17, 2002 

venue: First Parish Church at 3 Church St., Harvard Square 
city: Cambridge
my role: Concept, design and book. Cooked and performed with Andrea Boykowycz.