my things

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Salmon Squadron 2020

 This past weekend, I took part in sailing club Pii's "Lohieskaaderi" (Salmon Squadron). We had three boats in total: Pii's Ida and Ada, as well as S/Y Saukko from Niihaman saukot, a scout troop.

The main event, as the name suggests, was cooking salmon with heat radiation ("loimulohi"). 

Here is a map of the stops along the way: 
On the first night, the battery for my flashlight died and I had no way to charge it. I don't want this to happen again, so I ordered USB chargable 18650 batteries. By the way, "Liitokala" is a finnish word and means "flying fish".

Monday, July 6, 2020

Sailing Seagull

I went on a 4-day sail on the schooner Lokki (=sea gull). Here are some photos I took:

Here is a map of our way points. Notice that the route is not exact, I only logged where we moored.

The trip was organized by Suomen Nuorisopurjehtijat (= Youth Sailors of Finland).

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Bird Art

Each summer, my mother holds an art exhibition in her gallery. This year, the theme was "birds". I had this previously unreleased video, so I entered it:
-The course of liberated ones cannot be traced like that of birds in the air - Dhammapada Verse 92
I also made a photo edit of a friend's photograph:
It was made with "databending", ie. using the Audacity audio editor for editing the image. I had some trouble with this, so if you would like to try, you can check out my forums post for how I eventually did it.
Here they are on display at the gallery:
If you would like to purchase either, please contact me via the blog comments! The photo is also available through RedBubble from the link provided.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Robotically drawn Buddhas

I got an Axidraw plotter/drawing machine for Christmas, and I've finally made something with it. The process was very interesting, because what was on the screen did not always translate to paper quite the same. All through this process, the Freenode #inkscape user tinystoat was extremely helpful - I probably would not have figured these things out on my own, at least not without severe head-banging!
Here are the first two revisions:
Version 1
In this version, I had the lines surrounding the Buddha outline clipped. The plotter extension, however, ignored the clipping.

Version 2
In this version, the lines were cut, but they had been converted from strokes to paths in the process! The result was these box shapes.

Version 3: The Golden Buddha
This is the final version: in metallic gold color on black cardboard.
I gave the first revisions to friends, but I am willing to sell this final version. Please approach me with an offer in the comments if you're interested!
Here it is framed on my wall:

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Instanssi 2020

Uggaha nimitta
The title of the work means "spontaneous vision arising in meditation". It was made with Gimp,  Apophysis and Google Earth Pro. Several Buddha images have arisen to me in closed-eye meditation, although this particular image was not one of them, but was inspired by one of them. So, it would be better termed a "Paribhaga nimitta" - an image that has been subjected to mental manipulation. The photo was taken at the Aurinko shop.
Prints are available on RedBubble.
I took part in the Graphics compo at Instanssi 2020 with it. It placed #11/16.
The idea of the image is that everything, including the world, is mental.
Mind precedes all knowables,
mind's their chief, mind-made are they. 
- Dhammapada verse 1 
This is succintly put in Sabba Sutta:
"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All.
I also participated in the "Summamutikka" or "Wild" compo with this work, Golden Frog:

It is made to a track by the same name by shroomi.
It placed #13/14.
I also took a couple of photos to try out my lens ball.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

ACME Vend Thrill

This is an animation I made for a Jumbo outdoor screen in Jyväskylä back in 2011. It is titled ACME Vend Thrill, by Valmet Children. The specifications called for a 10 second Flash animation loop. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Talvibukka 2020

I took part in Talvibukka 2020 with this production, titled "selflessness":

It was made with AMOS the Creator 1.31. It placed #5/5.
I also made an Amiga Boing Ball design, because I was not quite satisfied with the existing ones. It may not be 100% true to the original, but it gets the point across, I think.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Jumalan 2020

Om Svaha
This piece is titled Om Svaha. It was made with vvvv, ProcessingGimp and a photograph I took at the Aurinko shop. Prints are available on RedBubble.
It is about the fundamental and universal nature of sound or, more generally, waves. Wave-particle duality and the interchangability of mass and energy mean that basically, the All can be thought of as a wave field. Within this field there are special forms, such as the sine waves emanating from the Buddha's third eye, and the "divine" sound of Om.
I've dealt with waves before.
The picture participated in the Graphics competition at JumaLAN '20. It placed #7/8.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Vortex 2019

I participated in the Graphics competition of Vortex IV with this image, Vajra Samadhi:
Vajra Samadhi
It placed 4th out of 6.
Prints are available on RedBubble.
The backgroud is made in Processing, while the image itself is composed in Gimp, of elements made in Inkscape and Flame Painter.
The translation I read renders Vajrasamadhi as "the Single-Taste, Definite, Signless, Beyond-Creation, Absolute Reality of Self-Enlightenment". Vajra, directly translated, means "diamond" or "thunderbolt", and is used to allude to indestructibility and irresistible force, respectively. "Samadhi" I've seen translated as "absorption", meditative consciousness more broadly, a state of trance and jhana in particular. The "Diamond Absorption" of Vajra Samadhi is "void and calm, motionless, non-abiding, non-creating, non-projecting, free from either this or that, untainted, non-arising and non-doing". In this way, it has a lot in common with The Fifth Jhana: Infinity of Space. Although the Buddha remained silent on whether the universe was finite or infinite, we can experientially know or at least conceive of an infinitude of space. When considering how much of even dense matter is "emptiness" as in empty space. How much more so the cosmos, where matter is so sparsely spread!
Contemplating this kind of emptiness, the emptiness of space, can lead to some understanding of a more profound emptiness, Shunyata. This is why I chose the starry space as the background. Even the Buddha likened the calm mind to empty space. The streak is supposed to be reminiscent of the Milky Way and other galaxies, but also of electromagnetic, gravitational and other invisible forces and even string theory. String theory is interesting in that it is a theory of everything that seemingly could work. I don't actually approve of it, nor do I disparage it, because, as the linked sutra says, "the mind that fabricates nothing neither clings to nor rejects anything". This is freedom of thought.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Skrolli Party 2019

This weekend, I participated in Skrolli Party. I contributed this image to the Wild Compo (there were only two competition categories, Demo and everything else, ie. Wild):
It was made with an image from Wikimedia Commons, Gimp, Processing and Blender.
It placed 9th out of 11. Prints are available on RedBubble.
The Swastika on the left stands for Samsara, the Wheel of Life, or cyclical existence. I have read that the Swastika also symbolizes the footsteps of the Buddha. By following these footsteps, we get from left to right, to the light symbolizing enlightenment.
On the third eye of the Buddha shines the Seed of Life pattern, standing here for the seed of the holy life, a life lived according to the five precepts and the Noble Eight-fold Path, with the Buddha-Dharma as a guide. Of course, the Buddha also warned about grasping at precepts: with right view, the right effort of following precepts is almost effortless, and does not involve attachment.
The aspiration for personal liberation (Hinayana) or Buddhahood (Mahayana) is Bodhicitta, the title of this work, meaning roughly a mind aiming at enlightened wisdom. Even though a life steered by such a mind aims at enlightenment and liberation, in the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha said:
all living beings will eventually be led by me to the final nirvana, the final ending of the cycle of birth and death. And when this unfathomable, infinite number of living beings have all been liberated, in truth not even a single being has actually been liberated.
This is the wonder of emptiness: no ceasing, no arising, no attainment, with nothing to attain.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Assembly 2019

This past weekend, Assembly 2019 was held. I'd long since made a production for the Graphics Compo, so I had been eagerly awaiting it for some time already. However, the picture was not qualified to be shown on the big screen. A disappointment. Apparently, there were 15 entries in the competition in total, of which 13 were shown. I find it very difficult to come up with a reason not to show the remaining 2 images. Showing an image in the compo only takes a few seconds of screen time. I do not understand what a maximum of one minute more time for the compo's showing would've hurt. However, as it went, I am hurt, because I read this as "your work is not worth a few seconds of our screen time"; "your work does not deserve to be seen by human eyes", etc.
Anyway, here is the ineligible picture:
Anuttara samyaksam bodhi
Here is the work on RedBubble, so that you may order prints.
The picture is made with my Canon Ixus 170, Inkscape, Flame Painter, Gimp and vvvv. The theme of this work is enlightenment and buddha nature. To quote Wikipedia:
The Chan master Mazu Daoyi (709–788) developed a radical interpretation of buddha nature, famously stating that it was nothing less than ordinary mind and that all beings were already enlightened from the start
I would not necessarily take such a radical stance, but I basically agree that buddha nature is the basic, fundamental nature of mind, and enlightenment is a process of removing illusions and defilements rather than developing the mind into something it was not originally. The process of enlightenment is more about removing than about adding. The "naturally pure true nature of the mind” is emptiness. Crucially, the mind is also empty of a Self, in particular. Buddha nature does not mean that there is a true Self whose nature is Buddha; buddha nature is more about suchness. However, it is also dangerous to think that there is no self; this is a "thicket of views". Other such views are described here on Access to Insight. Personally, I have been most subject to the view that "It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self", here the perceiving self being buddha nature, capable of seeing its own true nature as emptiness and not-self. But this is still wrong, just maybe somewhat more subtly than "I have a Self" or other such statements, and therefore harder, at least for me, to shake. To quote the Buddha, "If one’s mind accords with the true reality of dharmas and does not differentiate between self and no self because one knows that “self” is but a false name, one attains nirvāṇa. Attaining nirvāṇa is attaining anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi". Instead of harboring or even cultivating views, I like to let the mind just rest in absolute emptiness, although striving after right view as part of the Noble Eight-fold Path is, of course, still a relevant part of the practice. I do this through meditation, and the more my mind dwells in emptiness, the more it feels like that truly is its primordial nature. The Buddha said: "Knowing that the self is only a hypothetical name is the attainment of calm-extinction. If one attains calm-extinction, one attains anuttarasamyaksambodhi". This is why I like buddhism: the Dharma is "visible here and now, immediate, inviting to be seen for oneself, onward leading, and to be personally realized by the wise". Direct knowledge instead of blind faith. It is the awakening to this knowledge, bodhi, that is the core essence that this picture is about.
The nature of emptiness, itself, is not easy to grasp. Emptiness is also empty; it is not a fundamental, truly existing essential nature of everything, although it is correct to say that all conditioned phenomena are empty. However, emptiness itself is beyond existence and non-existence; to truly grasp its nature is Bodhi; to dwell in it is Nirvana. Nirvana is close to ineffable - it literally means "blowing out", but is beyond production and extinction. It is not attained or entered into, even at death. Like the Heart Sutra says, "no attainment with nothing to attain". To quote the Buddha, "If someone claims that his mind attains, abides in, or sees something, he has not attained anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi". But, it is dangerous to get obsessed with emptiness, especially without understanding its true nature. The enlightened do not dwell even in Nirvana - their nature is non-abiding. The Shurangama Sutra has this snippet:
suddenly he may veer towards the view of eternal extinction, deny cause and effect, and take everything as empty. The thought of emptiness so predominates that he comes to believe that there is eternal extinction after death
The sutra also lists many other pitfalls on the way to enlightenment.
Although Nirvana is like the blowing out of a flame, it is less like extinction and more like unbinding thereof. Does the flame exist in an unbound state, still? It is the same as to ask whether a Buddha exists after death: it is unanswerable by any of the propositions of the Catuṣkoṭi. About life and death, the same sutra describes a view that I regard as very common today: "Existence is also nonexistence. But within nonexistence there is no existence". This can be put into other words as "Death is a part of life, but in death, there is no life". This is a view I've heard often, with the second part usually left unsaid but included in thought anyway. I find it wholly unsatisfactory and truly empty of any substance - as the sutra says of it,  "It is all sophistry and does not stand up under scrutiny". As for birth and death seen through the Bodhi mind, the Buddha says it best, as usual:
The essential, true, wonderful brightness and perfect purity of basic enlightenment does not admit birth and death, nor any mundane defilements, nor even empty space itself. All these are brought forth because of false thinking.
The emptiness of Shunyata is not an emptiness as in a space: it is entirely empty of self-nature and essence.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Three Glasses

Here's an illustration for the concept of anatta: non-self. I made it for conversation-starter T-shirts:

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Daily Dharma, part Deux

Similar to my short-lived Twitter bot, I recently tweaked my virtual server's Message of the Day to dynamically display a verse from the Dhammapada on login, framed by diamonds using "boxes". This is a guide on how to achieve this on a Debian system.
Dharma Jewels
First, install "display-dhammapada" and "boxes" with apt.

Create a directory with the path "/etc/update-motd.d/" and add your scripts under that directory with names starting with priority numbers. For example, I have "20updates" in there. Here it is:

echo `dhamma` | fold -w 25 -s | boxes -a hcvc -d diamonds
echo "date   is $( date   )"

Then, chmod a+x /etc/update-motd.d/*
Then, edit "/etc/pam.d/sshd" and find the line with "motd". Change the path to

session    optional  motd=/var/run/motd

That should do it!

Edit: It did, in fact, do the trick for a while. However, then the MOTD would no longer get updated. I fixed it by changing the line in "/etc/pam.d/sshd" to

session    optional  motd=/run/motd.dynamic

The last dynamically updated MOTD before the unexplained break was this:
All processes are impermanent. When one sees this with understanding, then one is disillusioned with the things of suffering. This is the Path of Purification.
So, do not be surprised when things don't last.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Instanssi 2019 & DIY Time lapse rotator

This weekend, Instanssi was held for the 10th time. Here is a video from the party place:

I used a time lapse rotator I made: I combined a camera mount head and a kitchen timer with some hot glue. There are ready-made solutions available, but my DIY version differs in a few ways:

  • It has a ball swivel for other kinds of camera angles
  • It has a magnetic base instead of a standard socket on the bottom
The magnetic base instead of the socket can be both a positive and a negative, depending on the case. Of course, there are some fancy electronic solutions with adjustable speed, but my device suits my needs. Here is a picture:

I participated in the Graphics compo with this piece:
It placed #11/14. The picture is made with my Canon Ixus 170, InkscapeFlame PainterGimp and vvvv. Its title is "Metta Bhavana", which means "the development of loving kindness". I'm sure the world could do with a bit more of that!
The lotus in the picture is this floating candle holder from AliExpress.
This picture is dedicated to my friend, who passed away on the 10th of February, 2019. May his passing remind us all of the three characteristics of conditioned existence: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, not-self. Life is fleeting and fragile, all the more reason for compassion and kindness. As the Buddha said:
Life is but a breath 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Jumalan 2019

This past weekend, Jumalan 2019 was held. It is mostly a LAN, but there are demoscene competitions also.
I entered in the Graphics compo with this work: titled, perhaps fittingly ("Jumalan" means "of God"), "Divine Transmission". It's about the foundations of mathematics, mathematical intuition, and the sense of beauty associated therewith. I consider geometry to be particularly pure and "real", in the sense that geometric concepts such as a circle can be found to correspond with external objects that are typically considered "real", in their attributes as well as their behavior. I also believe mathematics to be universal, and to generally be discovered rather than invented. So, delving into math can feel like tapping into something profound - even divine. In the field of so-called "Sacred Geometry", an aesthetic pleasure is readily found, but its source is not apparent or easily understood. 

The rays are once again made in Apophysis. The background flower of life lattice is made in Processing. The final image is composited with Gimp. The image placed 4th out of 4 in the compo.
I also took part in the Fast GFX compo with this piece, titled "psychedelic screech". The theme for this competition was "the most annoying sound in the world". There was one hour to create a production that portrays this theme. I used Processing and Gimp for my image and the Ecosia image search to find the Clef image. It placed on a split 8th place out of 16.

The final production was a music video for a track by my friend shroomi - monkey do. I used my newly-acquired Korg Nanokontrol 2 with Resolume and vvvv visuals. All of my patches were music reactive, but it turns out there is a small issue with the sound driver: when HDMI output is selected, there is no output from the stereo mix. Stereo mix works fine when using speaker output. So, I replaced some of the audio reactivity with just random values. I also used the AceFractal and AceCellular effects from the AceFX FFGL plugin pack. The result was once again recorded with my EZCap284-based recorder. The whole thing was routed through Ugreen HDMI cables, with which I've been very satisfied.
I did a few runs through the song (the audio did not get recorded the first time, as I had not switched to the HDMI output for sound), and mixed these together into the final result you see here. The video clips are from Shrooms.

In Buddhism, there is the concept of a "monkey mind". It is the mind that is constantly scattering its attention here and there, running after this and that. It can be tamed through meditation and noticed through mindfulness, but this song, and the accompanying video, are all about "monkey see, monkey do".
It takes true imagination and creativity to do something you have never seen done before, and very few monkey minds are capable of this. For them, creativity is rare at best; they live according to what they have seen and experienced, ingrained habits and behavior patterns that propagate through the monkey community. The video is also about the contrapunct to that: original thought and behavior, not treading the beaten path. It placed 3rd out of 4.