Tomorrow or the Next Life

Tomorrow or the Next Life

A meditation on blending ancient with modern, spiritual with material, analog with digital.

There is an obsession with the new, emerging, emergent. But what about the aging, the old and the past? The dead?

In the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche posits: “Tomorrow or the next life – which comes first, we never know.”

By interacting with ancient modern technology hybrids, might we establish a new continuity with the old, the dead and even the afterlife?

Lee Dongchi


Read More:
Data of the Dead

Data of the Dead

“Tomorrow or the Next Life” resurrects ancient and historic materials like paper, bookbinding and CDs by blending them with current and emerging technologies.

I attempt to connect these physical materials with digital interactivity, and the digital data with spiritual substance–to bring attention to artifacts and traditions of the past while also highlighting their impermanence in efforts to create new relevance and value.

Despite our obsession with creation, death is a part of every birth and deserves equal treatment.

The installation is composed of a book that controls a responsive lighting environment that changes to reflect the scene on each page. One page shows a stick of virtual incense burning down and smoke flows across the page. In eastern traditions, the smoke of incense creates connection with those in the afterlife as it rises and dissipates into the atmosphere.

Another page shows a rainbow, created by bouncing light off a CD. The CD itself holds information about the deceased in microscopic ridges etched into the disc. These same ridges also refract the light into a spectrum, turning the data of that person (a physical instantiation of their digital and perhaps spiritual form) into a rainbow. In Tibetan Buddhism, the rainbow represents the body of a soul that has left this life and reached enlightenment in the next.

Ironically, the CD is itself a medium that is soon to be obsolete.

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