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The Buddha Bender (v1 2015, v2 2016, v3 2019)

Designed and built as an interactive sound art experience at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, DC for Sound Scene VIII, staged by DC Listening Lounge.

Project Description

A famous Buddhist koan commands, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." But what if you merely "hear" the Buddha as you do when playing one of those battery-operated mantra chant boxes? Since these novelties are controlled by a small microchip that moderates the speed at which the chant audio is played back, I propose that a corollary koan would command you to "circuit bend him".

This piece was conceived as an interactive experience for Sound Scene visitors. Version 1.0 was tested in this environment and version 2.0 emerged with additional controls and options for driving audio through a mixer. Version 3.0 is under construction and will include add-on modules for live performance including the Resistance Randomiser, the Gloves of Silver, and the Tangle Tuner.


  • Battery-operated Buddhist mantra chant boxes

  • Electronic components

  • Wood, Wire

  • 3D printed objects

  • EMF fabric (silver thread)

photos by Neal Johnson

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