Sweetcake Ensō

sweetcake enzo screen
sweetcake enzo screen
sweetcake enzo screen
sweetcake flash code screengrab

Sweetcake Ensō

Art direction & Design:
Dermot Mac Cormack

Dermot Mac Cormack

I’ve been studying Zen Buddhism for many years and have a fascination with Ensōs. Typically, these are hand-painted scrolls, painted quickly, after much preparation of the paper, Sumi ink, and most importantly, cultivating a focused state of mind. The resulting circular brush stroke is typically done in one fluid, uninterrupted movement. There is no intent per se, other than the one who is painting becomes at one with the moment of the actual creation of the circle. It is also typically executed in silence. This digital Ensō, however, breaks the formalities usually associated with the traditional hand-painted method and replaces the ink with code, silence with recorded chanting (in this case an excerpt from chanting recorded in a monastery in Japan in the 1960s) and moving the object from a monastic, physical location, to that of the digital realm.

These two examples are the first in the series of digital Ensōs that I created using the Actionscript and Hype code framework. The top piece was created for an invitational curated exhibition called “Sweetcake Ensō,” which was curated by the art historian and curator, Catherine Spaeth. This physical and accompanying online exhibition asked various artists and Buddhist practitioners alike to re-imagine the traditional Japanese Ensō. My contribution, “Untitled 11” was created for the online component (please note, as the Flash player is mostly depreciated in current browsers, the videos above are recordings of those same web-based platform presentations). 

The second image was another iteration of the same project that was selected to be included in “Digital Works” at the Long Beach Island, Foundation of the Arts & Sciences. This show was curated by Christiane Paul, a scholar in the field of digital art and a historian of art and technology. She is also the author of the seminal book Digital Art and the curator of digital art at the Whitney Museum, New York. The audio generated a continuously evolving digital projection that played in the exhibition for the length of the show. In both instances, the pulsating circles emanate from a central core in a hypnotic rhythm, that the viewer may lose themselves in.



Digital Works
Long Beach Island Foundation
Summer 2012 exhibition
National Juried Competition
Curated by
Christiane Paul.

Sweetcake Ensō *
Summer 2011 online exhibition
Curated by
Catherine Spaeth

*Please note that while the online entry is still available the Flash player needed to play it may not be available on your browser but can be viewed here instead. 


Performance & Installations