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John Tsung

Reimagine: Himalayan Art Now

March 15–October 6, 2024


Photo by James Bee
Photo by James Bee





John Tsung (he/him)

b. Houston, TX; lives and works in New York, NY

John Tsung is an interdisciplinary artist, composer, and writer whose works explore migration and myth, particularly the concepts of transmigration and impermanence. Drawing on social practice and sound art, his works often involve emergent sounds and the creation of site-specific performance pieces, influenced by his Buddhist upbringing and classical training. Tsung’s installations and works have been performed in the US and Asia and featured in publications such as BOMB Magazine, Interview, and The New York Times. / @johntsungmusic



John Tsung; 神代 (Divine Generation); 2024; piezo, cable, speakers, transducers; courtesy of the artist; Photo by Dave De Armas

In Divine Generation John Tsung reimagines the Rubin in its totality as a living, breathing being, integrating the central staircase (spine), building (bones), visitors (nervous system), and Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room (brain/heart) into a single work. The building is transformed into a divine being, with the visitors as divinities within a divine superorganism. With the piece, the artist interrogates the core Buddhist concepts of anatta (self/no-self), interconnectedness, and impermanence.

The artist captures and transforms the vibrations from around the Rubin into a single, experiential installation. The spiral staircase, acting as the spine of the Rubin, is the primary resonating vessel. Piezo microphones, lined along the staircase and branching out to each floor, pick up vibrations as visitors climb the stairs and walk through the Museum. The vibrations are transformed into ambient sound and vibration in the Shrine Room. Visitors can directly commune with the Rubin by touching a piece of the rock foundation of the Rubin Museum building. For the artist, this piece of rock foundation serves as a signifier of the cycle of birth and transmigration.



The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room

This installation is presented in the Reimagine exhibition in dialogue with Divine Generation, inviting new ways of encountering traditional Himalayan art. The vibrations captured by Divine Generation are transformed into ambient sound and vibration in the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room.

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