Games

The Zendesk FM3 Buddha Machine Wall

A company called Zendesk stumbles into the sublime.

This is the Sam Poh Buddhist Temple, located in Malaysia and dedicated to Zheng He, a Chinese admiral:

...and this is a picture of Zendesk's "Buddha Machine Wall", based on FM3's little plastic box known as (predictably) the Buddha Machine:

The second is said to be inspired by the first, though it's difficult at a glance to see how. The Sam Poh Temple is an ornate, reportedly well-kept structure filled with Chinese artwork, Buddhist statues, and myriad flowers of types atypical to that stretch of Malaysia. The Buddha Machine Wall is a minimalist, almost Warholian webpage consisting entirely of a series of Flash applications.

Zendesk is, apparently, a developer of help desk facilitation software. Beansbox, which actually created the wall under the direction of Zendesk, is a web solutions company. Is any of this making sense yet? The cryptic blog post that Zendesk published announcing the creation of the machine doesn't really seem to help matters, except perhaps the bit about the "Zen encompass[ing] you". Maybe that's it. Maybe the connection is inner peace and stability, as influenced by outside forces. Sure, the connection is kind of tenuous -- okay, really tenuous -- but if there's a connection to be made, that's it.

That said, I was rather taken with the Buddha Machine a few years ago, and still bring it to the office on those occasions when i do need some calm, some music designed specifically for the background. That it never changes or ends unless I ask it to is not only a peaceful feeling, but that the listening experience depends entirely on the listener lends the listener a sense of environmental control. Not to mention, people love the thing -- it's always a source of questions and conversation when it comes to the office.

Despite the odd motivation (or lack thereof) in putting it together, the Buddha machine Wall is nearly as inspired. While the novelty of the artifact disappears in a haze of flash applications, the sense of control is heightened; you still get the satisfaction of controlling when it begins or ends, but you also get the even greater satisfaction of "composing" what it is you're listening to. Rather than being limited to the nine loops of a single machine, one can instead build a beautiful, layered thing that still sounds like drone. The minor-key chords of the first go wonderfully with the sparse melody of the fifth, the second tends to overpower things if used more than once, and I still haven't found a use for the ninth. Perhaps your experience with it will be totally different. That's the beauty.

What's truly amazing is that after three years, the musical possibilities of a machine that contains less than three minutes of actual unique sound are still being explored in new and fascinating ways. Unlikely as its source may be, the Buddha Machine Wall is at least worth a visit, and maybe even a bookmark.

LINK: The FM3 Zendesk Buddha Machine Wall


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

9
Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane
Music

Mobley Laments the Evil of "James Crow" in the US

Austin's Mobley makes upbeat-sounding, soulful pop-rock songs with a political conscience, as on his latest single, "James Crow".

Music

Jordan Tice's "Bad Little Idea" Is a Satirical Spin on Dire Romance (premiere)

Hawktail's Jordan Tice impresses with his solo work on "Bad Little Idea", a folk rambler that blends bluesy undertones with satiric wit.

Music

Composer Ilan Eshkeri Discusses His Soundtrack for the 'Ghost of Tsushima' Game

Having composed for blockbuster films and ballet, Ilan Eshkeri discusses how powerful emotional narratives and the opportunity for creative freedom drew him to triple-A video game Ghost of Tsushima.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Film

Love and Cinema: The Ruinous Lives in Żuławski's L'important c'est d'aimer

Żuławski's world of hapless also-rans in L'important C'est D'aimer is surveyed with a clear and compassionate eye. He has never done anything in his anarchic world by the halves.

Books

On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.

Music

Alt-pop's merci, mercy Warns We May "Fall Apart"

Australian alt-pop singer-songwriter, merci, mercy shares a video for her catchy, sophisticated anthem, "Fall Apart".

Film

Tears in Rain: 'Blade Runner' and Philip K. Dick's Legacy in Film

Blade Runner, and the work of Philip K. Dick, continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?

Music

London Indie-Poppers the Motive Impress on "You" (premiere)

Southwest London's the Motive concoct catchy, indie-pop earworms with breezy melodies, jangly guitars, and hooky riffs, as on their latest single "You".

Books

Vigdis Hjorth's 'Long Live the Post Horn!' Breathes Life into Bureaucratic Anxiety

Vigdis Hjorth's Long Live the Post Horn! is a study in existential torpor that, happily, does not induce the same condition in the reader.

Music

Konqistador and HanHan Team for Darkwave Hip-Hop on "Visaya"

Detroit-based electronic/industrial outfit, Konqistador team with Toronto hip-hopper HanHan for "Visaya", a song that blends darkwave and rap into an incendiary combination.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.