Biblical Fringes: Biomorphic Consciousness through Ancient Ritual
Proceedings of Consciousness Reframed
8th International Research Conference, University of Plymouth, UK, July 2006
Biomorphic consciousness is developed through the ancient ritual of breaking open the four corners of a rectangular garment with spiraling and branching fringes flowing free. This daily ritual develops biomorphic consciousness in which freedom, symbolized by open-ended growth systems – spirals and branches – liberates us from enslavement in narrow-minded thought embodied in a closed rectangular form. There is a conceptual confluence between the development of biomorphic consciousness in this three millennia old ritual and the creation of contemporary artworks exploring biological and digital systems.
Spiral and branching growth patterns are linked as a biblical metaphor for a human being. ‘A righteous person will flourish like a date palm and grow like a Lebanon cedar tree (Psalm 92).’ Palm and cedar phyllotaxis demonstrate spiral and branching growth patterns respectively that are integrated in the life of an individual enjoying biomorphic consciousness.
The act of creating, wearing, and viewing fringes designed to honor living systems is derived from the biblical passages Numbers 15:37 and Deuteronomy 30:19: ‘Speak to the children of Israel and tell them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations…that you may see it…. I have placed before you life and death…. Choose life.’ Observant Jews to this day don each morning a rectangular shawl with fringes flowing from each corner in order to observe a ritual designed for daily reinforcement of biomorphic consciousness.
Morphological Analysis of Biblical Fringes
The biblical commandment (mitzvah) dealing with making and seeing fringes flowing out of the four corners of a rectangular garment is the exemplary visual mitzvah. I will analyze morphologically how these biblical fringes in the visual culture of Jewish praxis express the structure of biomorphic consciousness and inspire expression in a contemporary artwork. This visual mitzvah in Jewish praxis is based upon Numbers 15:37-41:
God said to Moses, saying: “Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations. And they shall place upon the fringes of each corner a blue thread. It shall constitute fringes for you, that you may see it and remember all God’s commandments and perform them and do not stray after your heart and after your eyes that you may remember and perform all My commandments and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be a God to you.”
The biblical Hebrew word for fringes is tzitzit from tzutz meaning “to look.” Tzitzit are something to look at. We look at fringes tied with a coded message of 5 knots, 39 spirals, and 8 branches, breaking out of the four corners of a rectangular garment. Since contemporary clothes are not rectangles, Jews don rectangular prayer shawls (talit) and rectangular undergarments (talit katan) in order to perform the mitzvah of tziztit. The importance of the mitzvah of tzitzit is emphasized by the placement of the passage from Numbers on tzitzit in a major position in the liturgy attached to two passages from Deuteronomy that begin with the central attestation of Jewish faith: “Hear O Israel, YHVH is our Lord, YHVH is One.”
The significance of the visual mitzvah of tzitzit can be studied by examining it in relation to form, number, and process. These three parameters as enunciated in ancient kabbalistic literature parallel our contemporary scientific understanding of the universe. Sefer Yezirah: The Book of Creation (Kaplan 1993), often attributed to the patriarch Abraham, begins: “He [God] created His universe with three SiPuRim, with SePheR, with S’PhaR, and with SiPuR.” In Hebrew, words for form SePheR, number S’PhaR, and process SiPuR share the same SPR root that is revealed in the word for SPiRal in many languages, ancient and modern, and in the English words SPiRitual and inSPiRation.
The kabbalistic morphology of form, number, and process in spiritual systems finds its scientific parallel in the structure of natural systems. D’Arcy Thompson’s classic work, On Growth and Form (1917), demonstrates how living organisms are shaped by form, number, and process. In The Sand Dollar and the Slide Rule: Drawing Blueprints from Nature (1995), Delta Willis extends Thompson’s research to explore the relationships between natural systems and the human design process. Judaism considers the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) to be the blueprint for the creation of the material world. This divine creation finds its parallel in human creativity. Indeed, the KBL root of the word KaBbaLah in the Torah itself is found in the word for “parallel” maKBiL. Human creativity and divine creation are parallel processes. Therefore, it is meaningful to see structures in nature as parallel to structures revealed through Torah study and Jewish praxis. The spiral form of the galaxies and DNA can be seen in the double windings of the Torah scroll read in synagogue. The qualitative differences between the 92 elements are a manifestation of atomic number paralleling the numerical values of Hebrew words that reveal hidden meanings. Photosynthesis, the most significant chemical process in the maintenance of life on our planet, is analogous to the biblical narrative that relates life enhancing processes that lead from slavery to freedom and from narrowness of thought to ecological perspective.
Morphological analysis of tzitzit in terms of form, number, and process reveals their significance in the development of biomorphic consciousness. In Egypt, the Israelites where enslaved in the brickyard, malben, where they were forced to form mud into rectangular bricks. Malben is also the word for “rectangle.” The closed form of the rectangle symbolizes slavery. The biblical passage about making and seeing tzitzit concludes with liberation from Egyptian bondage. The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means “narrow straits.” Indeed, the centrality of “breaking out of the box,” of seeking freedom from narrowness of thought to achieve the open-mindedness of biomorphic consciousness, is emphasized in the Torah by placing it as the first of the Ten Commandments: “I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of Mitzrayim (narrow straits) from the place of slavery.”
Form: Biomorphic and Open-Ended
Tzitzit break open the corners of a rectangular garment to let energies flow from the narrow confines of a closed frame. A garment not having four corners does not require tzitzit. In tying tzitzit, four strings are laced through a hole made at each of the corners so that we see eight strands. A double knot is tied integrating all eight strands. The double knot is analogous to the two intertwined triangles, one pointing upwards and the other downwards, that constitute the Star of David. It teaches that spiritual ascent must be integrated with the lowering of spirituality down into everyday life. This is the first of five double knots that separate four sets of spirals from each other and the long flowing branches at the end of the fringe. Spirals and branches are open-ended forms like the alternative patterns of growth in palm and cedar trees. The psalmist uses this tree metaphor to elucidate the moral goal of Judaism, “A righteous person will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar of Lebanon he will grow tall” (Psalm 92). It is the highlight of the week to sing this psalm in synagogue on the Sabbath. The spirals and branches of the tzitzit remind us to liberate ourselves from narrow patterns of thought to reach righteousness through the open-ended flow seen in the growth patterns of trees. The eight free-flowing branches hang down like roots to the upward branches of the menorah, the most ancient symbol of Judaism. They must be twice as long as the four sets of spirals contained between five knots. The integrating structure of the knots and the growth structure of the spiral turns give way to free flowing branches, the longest portion of the fringe.
According to the biblical passage on tzitzit, one of the strands of each fringe should be sky blue. The sages of the Talmud tell us, “The blue wool resembles the ocean, the ocean resembles the color of the sky, the sky resembles the purity of the SaPphiRe, and the sapphire resembles the divine throne.” The special blue dye (t’chelet) needed for coloring the tzitzit was derived from a Mediterranean sea snail. In the period of the Babylonian exile after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem when Jews lived far from the sea, the blue thread went into disuse since this required dye could not be obtained without great effort and expense. After more than two millennia, dying one strand blue is being revived in Israel today where the rediscovered spiral sea snails of ancient times are grown in salt-water tanks. The blue and white color of the Israeli flag is based upon the blue and white strands of the tzitzit. The blue thread linking sky to ocean is a metaphor for the religious obligation of bringing heaven down to earth. When an artist mixes sky blue pigment with earth red pigment (the Hebrew word for red is adom sharing the same root as adamah, earth, and adam, humanity) the resultant color is purple. The Bible (Exodus 19:5 and Deuteronomy 6:7) calls the Jewish people “am segulah” (SeGuLah is related to the word for purple SeGoL), a nation chosen to teach ways of drawing spiritual realms above into every aspect of down-to-earth living.
Transforming the Material World into a Spiritual One
Looking at tzitzit flowing from the four corners of a talit reminds us to not to encounter the physical world without transforming it into a spiritual one. The 613 biblical mizvot (plural of mitzvah) are divided into 248 positive and 365 negative mizvot. The positive mizvah of tzitzit, like tying a string around a finger to remember what to do, reminds us to observe the biblical commandments. The negative mitzvah not to stray after what our eyes and hearts desire relates to not acting out our animal instincts divorced from deeper values, not admiring beauty of form separated from appreciation for goodness, and not dissociating material and spiritual realms from each other.
The Talmud relates a story to teach how observing this visual mitzvah can keep us from lusting after surface gorgeousness separated from inner beauty. A yeshiva student careful to observe the mitzvah of tzitzit traveled to a port city where he heard there lived an amazingly gorgeous harlot. He paid her attendant 400 gold pieces and entered a room sensuously set with six beds of silver and the highest one of gold. She disrobed and sat herself nude on the golden bed. When the man began to undress, his four tzitzit flew up and slapped him in his face. As he began to run out, the woman cried out, “By Jupiter! I will not let you leave me until you tell me what you find wrong with me.” The man answered, “I have never seen a woman as beautiful as you but the tzitzit that my God has commanded me to wear appeared to me like four witnesses to testify against my sin.” The woman sold all her possessions except for her gold bed and traveled in search of the man who had had the strength to resist taking her beautiful body. When she found his yeshiva, she told the story to the rabbi who headed the yeshiva and begged him to teach her. She learned Torah with love and enthusiasm and converted to Judaism. The rabbi then said to her, “Go, my daughter, and take what is yours. The same bed that you used for sin, you may now enjoy in a permissible manner.” The yeshiva student happily married a most stunning bride whose outer charms were now matched by the beauty of her soul.
Number: DNA and KUZU
In addition to the significance of the spiral and branching form of tzitzit, tzitzit also communicate spiritual messages through numbers. Since each Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent, the number of turns and sequence of the spiral turnings of each fringe spell out spiritual messages like the A-T/C-G code of the DNA helix. The four-letter divine name YHVH spelled out in each fringe coupled with the 22 Hebrew letters parallel the four DNA nucleotides and transfer RNA that provides the 22 code signals for starting and stopping the synthesis of amino acids that form the protein basis of all life forms. Electronic technologies echo these spiral and branching forms in the storage and transmission of information, from videotapes and discs to printed circuits and telecommunications networks. In The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich identifies number and modularity as the first principles of new media: “All new media objects, whether created from scratch on computers or converted from analog media sources, are composed of digital code; they are numerical representations (2001: 217).”
The four sets of spirals held together by five knots wind down in a sequence of 7, 8, 11, and 13 turns (according to the Ashkenazi tradition). This numerical code spells out “God is One.” Seven days of divine creation is followed by the eight-day in which humanity joins with God in continuing the creation. 7 + 8 = 15, the numerical equivalent of YH, the first two letters in the divine name. The numerical value of second two letters, VH, is 11. The full divine YHVH equals 26. The fourth set of 13 turns is the numerical value of ehad, the Hebrew word for “one.” We read the tzitzit as “YHVH is One.” God (26) plus One (13) equals 39, the numerical equivalent of KUZU, the divine name YHVH in motion, written on the outside of parchment mini-Torah scrolls affixed to doorposts in Jewish homes in observance of the biblical mitzvah of mezuzah. YHVH is the divine name associated with inner beauty in the flow of divine light down into the material world. Writing YHVH with the next Hebrew letter in the alphabet as KUZU represents the dynamic quality of this flow. It is as if we were to write the word GOD as HPE (H follows G, P follows O, and E follows D). Like KUZU, HPE would set GOD in motion. Furthermore, the numerical value of the word tzitzit is 600 (tz = 90, i = 10, tz = 90, i = 10, t = 400). Coupled with the 8 strings and 5 knots, we arrive at 613, the number of biblical commandments.
Before donning the talit every morning, I recite from Psalm 104: “Bless YHVH, O my soul; YHVH, my God, You are very great; You have donned majesty and splendor, cloaked in light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a curtain.” I then express my readiness to wrap my body and soul in “the illumination of the tzitzit that has the numerical value of 613.” I continue:
“Through the commandment of tzitzit may my life force, spirit, soul, and prayer be rescued from external forces. May the talit spread its wings over them and rescue them like an eagle rousing his nest fluttering over his eaglets. May the commandment of tzitzit be worthy before the Holy One, Blessed be He, as if I had fulfilled it in all its details, implications, and intentions, as well as the 613 commandments that depend upon it.”
I visually examine the tzitzit as I move my fingers through them and then wrap the talit over my head covering my whole body with it while reciting from Psalm 36:
“How precious is Your kindness, O God! As human beings take refuge in the shadow of Your wings, may they be sated from the abundance of Your house and may You give them drink from the stream of Your delights. For with You is the source of life – by your light we shall see light.”
At a high point in the morning prayers, I gather together all four tzitzit in my left hand while saying: “Bring us in peacefulness from the four corners of the earth and lead us with upright pride to our land.” I cover my eyes with my right hand and recite, “Her O Israel, YHVH is our God, YHVH is One.” I continue reciting two paragraphs from Deuteronomy that follow from this central affirmation of Judaism. When I come to the next paragraph from Numbers about tzitzit, I hold the four fringes together in both hands and kiss them each of the three times the word tzitzit is mentioned. I look closely at the gathered fringes when saying “that you may see it and remember all God’s commandments and perform them and do not stray after your heart and after your eyes.” At this point, Jews from Islamic lands will often take the fringes and touch them to both closed eyes transforming the visual sense to a more intimate tactile one. After reciting the biblical paragraph on tzitzit, the gathered fringes are released while saying: “His words are living and enduring, faithful and delightful forever and to all eternity.”
Process: Expansive Narrative
My description of the daily practice of wearing, holding, kissing, and looking at tzitzit is one aspect of the transition from form and number to a process that shapes biomorphic consciousness. Another aspect of that transition to process can be read from the textual context of the biblical passage on tzitzit in relation to the biblical narrative. The biblical passage on tzitzit (Numbers 15:37-41) is the last paragraph of the Torah portion that begins with the narrative about the Israelites spies sent from the desert to gather intelligence about the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:1-33, 14:1-45). “The men headed north and explored the land, from the Tzin Desert all the way to ReHoV” (Numbers 13:20). Note that RHV is the root of word for “wide-open expanses.” Leaving Egypt, the height of built civilization, to the Sinai desert automatically liberated the Israelites from the narrow straits of an enslaved people to the freedom of the broad expanse of the desert landscape. When I drive from my home in a suburb of Tel Aviv to visit my son and his family in the Negev desert, I can sense this biblical transition. Looking out of my apartment widows, I only see other apartment buildings. Leaving the narrow canyons of a vertical built environment and heading into the desert mountains, I encounter unrestrained horizontal visas.
Ten of the twelve spies returned with disparaging reports about the land of Canaan. They opposed entering the land preferring to remain in the desert. In the desert, they could enjoy a spiritual life of learning Torah without the work and worries of earning a living. All the Israelites’ needs were met. Their food was the manna that fell from heaven and water came from Miriam’s well. They feared entering the land of Canaan for it would rob them of their spiritual existence and make them toil as they had as slaves in their Egypt. Why was it such an unforgivable sin to prefer a purely spiritual life to one of mundane tasks and hard work? The spiritual leaders of ten of the tribes were condemned to death in the desert for their grave transgression.
“Among the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Calev son of Yefuneh tore their clothes in grief. They said to the whole Israelite community, ‘The land through which we passed in our explorations is a very, very good land… a land flowing with milk and honey’” (Numbers 14:6-8). Joshua, the faithful disciple of Moses, had no interest in rebelling against God’s will as communicated through Moses. His good report earned him privilege of entering the Promised Land. God said, “The exception is my servant Calev who showed a different spirit and followed Me wholeheartedly. I will bring him to the land that he explored, and his descendents will posses it.” (Numbers 14:24) Calev was the only one of the spies whose consciousness had evolved from a closed-minded slave mentality to an open-minded life-enhancing biomorphic consciousness. In our day, the descendents of Calev of the tribe of Judah are being ingathered from the four corners of the earth to Israel, the land that Calev was able to see as being very, very good. Most of the Jews in Israel today descend from the tribe of Judah. Most descendents of those who feared entering the Promised Land after the exodus from Egypt are the lost tribes.
What was Calev’s different spirit? What could he see that the others could not? Calev understood that the other spies were wrong in believing that spirituality flourishes best in seclusion and withdrawal, in the protected isolation of the desert.
"The purpose of life lived in Torah is not the elevation of the soul; it is the sanctification of the world. The end to which every mitzvah aims is to make a dwelling place for G-d in the world – to bring G-d to the light within the world, not above it. A mitzvah seeks to find G-d in the natural not the supernatural. The miracles which sustained the Jews in the wilderness were not the apex of spiritual existence. They were only a preparation for the real task: taking possession of the land of Israel and making it a holy land ." (Schneerson 1986: 242).
The spies were severely punished because they could not see how to fuse the physical with the material in the Land of Israel. In the Land of Israel, we have the possibility of proving that mundane tasks can be sanctified and part of the divine service. Calev could make a perceptual shift and see that building the land and tilling the soil could be transformed into acts of spiritual significance (Weitzman 1999).
During the Nazi conquest of Europe, Nazi troops attempted to humiliate a great rabbinic leader before his congregation by forcing him at gunpoint to sweep the streets, collect garbage, and march waving the Nazi flag. As one of the few survivors of the Holocaust in his family, he was fortunate enough to begin a new life in Tel Aviv. Each year, the week before Israel’s Independence Day, he would rise early to join sanitation workers in sweeping the streets and collecting garbage. On Independence Day, he marched in Tel Aviv waving the Israeli flag. Being free to keep his city clean and wave his flag transformed humiliation into an expression of pride. The sin of the spies was their inability to see that the very same activities that they were forced to endure as slaves in Egypt could be transformed into holy work when performed freely of one’s own volition.
Calev’s “different spirit” enabled him to conceptualize bringing the expansive experience of the desert into settlements in the Land of Israel. The spies who left Egypt (MiTzRayim = narrow straits) and crossed the desert entered the Promised Land at the Tzin Desert with the charge to reach ReHoV (Numbers 13:21). They failed to arrive at ReHoV, which alludes to wide expanses. Forty years later, Joshua sent spies who found refuge in Jericho with the woman innkeeper RaHaV, whose name means expansiveness (Joshua 2:1). On holidays and each celebration of the new month, Jews sing King David’s words: “From the narrow straits (haMaTzaR) did I call upon God; God answered me with expansiveness (meRHaV)” (Psalm 118).
The Torah portion telling the story of the spies ends with the passage about tzitzit. Looking at the tzitzit, we see flowing tassels break open the closed rectangle at its four corners. We see four knots open up to spirals symbolizing open-ended growth and a fifth knot open up to free all eight strands to flow outwardly in expansive branching. These branching strands streaming downward from the corners of a talit symbolize the flow of divine light down to earth. Making, wearing, and seeing the spiraling and branching of tzitzit every morning for more than three millennia shape biomorphic consciousness that engenders life-enhancing actions.
Four Wings of America
Torah study strives to forge creative connections between a word that appears several times in different biblical contexts. In Numbers we read, “Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves fringes on the corners of (kanfai) their garments, throughout their generations…. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Before the Israelites received the Ten Commandments, God tells Moses, “Tell the Israelites: ‘You saw what I did in Egypt, carrying you on wings of (kanfai) eagles and bringing you to me” (Exodus, 19:4). Forty years later standing on the east bank of the Jordan River, Moses reviews the laws of the Torah for the generation born in the desert before they enter the Promised Land. He said, “Make yourself fringes on the four corners (kanfot) of the garment with which you cover yourself” (Deuteronomy 22:12). Before donning his prayer shawl each morning, a Jew says, “May the talit spread its wings (kanfav)…like an eagle rousing his nest, fluttering over its eaglets.” The biblical prophesy, “He will ingather the dispersed ones of Judah from the four corners (kanfot) of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12), is being realized in our day. The biblical Hebrew word used for the four “corners” of one’s garment and metaphorically as the four “corners” of the earth is the same word that is used for “wings.” The foremost biblical commentator Rashi (11th century France) points out the links between corners and wings, “The tzitzit are placed ‘on the corners (kanfot) of their garments,” alluding to God having freed the Israelites from Egypt, as it states, ‘and I carried you on the wings (kanfot) of eagles.’”
Four Wings of America is an environmental artwork that conceptually links corners of a garment to corners of the land to wings. It was one of a series of artworks that I created as part of the official celebration of Miami’s centennial. When I moved to Miami from New York, I sensed that I had moved to one of the four corners of America. Since corners are called “wings” in biblical Hebrew, I invited American Airlines, the largest U.S. corporation in the wing business, to sponsor the artwork. I had made large white rope tzitzit having a sky blue strand with the thought of attaching them to the four corners of America. I placed them on the boardroom table to explain to the airline executives their conceptual significance. It became apparent my proposal was appreciated, when one of them said, “It is as if the United States is spiritually lifted up by its four corners as the blue strand of the fringes links the sea to the sky.” They agreed to sponsor the project and flew me and my collaborator, artist Miriam Benjamin, to the four corners of America to physically realize the spiritual metaphor (Alexenberg 2006).
We drove from Seattle to Neah Bay, an Indian reservation at the end of the Olympia Peninsula in Washington State, attached the tzitzit to a tree at the shoreline. The tzitzit flowing outward into the Pacific Ocean transformed the northwest corner of continental United States by their presence. At the southwest corner, the tzitzit shuddered in the wind hanging from to the steel wall that separates San Diego from Tijuana at the Pacific Ocean. Tzitzit flowed into the Atlantic Ocean from huge barnacle-encrusted boulders on the Maine coast and from swaying palms shading the beach of a balmy Florida bay.
In synagogues in each of the four corner cities – Miami, San Diego, Seattle, and Portland (Maine) – I participated in the weekday morning services wearing tzitzit flowing out of the four corners of my talit, a white woolen rectangular shawl with a series of stripes on both ends like giant bar codes. The stripes are parallel to call attention to the multiple paths of the twelve Israelite tribes, each representing different personality traits and alternative viewpoints. I photographed the spontaneous groupings of men in striped shawls as they gathered around the Torah scroll as it was being chanted. It brought to mind the herds of zebras in a National Geographic film I had seen. The zebras gathered together for protection. However, when a zebra was about to give birth she separated herself from the herd so that her unique stripe pattern would be imprinted on the newborn’s mind. If the newborn zebra were to first see the patterns on other zebras, it would be unable to identify its mother in the herd for nursing and would die of starvation. Zebra stripes serve a biological survival function of imprinting the identity of a particular zebra as its mother. Perhaps coming together each morning, donning a striped talit, and reading the message encoded in the turnings of the tzitzit spirals forges a biomorphic consciousness that has kept Jewish identity alive for more than three millennia. I photographed zebras in the zoos of each of the four corner cities and juxtaposed them with the photographs of the men in striped shawls.
I see the confluence between spiritual, biological, and digital systems in the formal and conceptual links between spiritual talit stripes, biological zebra stripes, and bar code stripes, the secret language of the digital age. Like some mystical code that we cannot decipher, we are all illiterate starring at stripes that supermarket lasers read with ease. Seeing the common pattern in the digital language that identifies products, in zebras’ survival mechanisms, and in an ancient ritual act designed to develop biomorphic consciousness, attests to the grand ecosystem in which all is interconnected in divine oneness.
Alexenberg, M. (2006), The Future of Art in a Digital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness, Bristol, UK: Intellect Books.
Kaplan, A. (1993), Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser.
Manovich, L. (2001), The Language of New Media, Cambridge: MA: MIT Press.
Schneerson, M. M. (1986), Torah Studies, Adapted by Jonathan Sacks, London: Lubavitch Foundation.
Thompson, D. (1917), On Growth and Form, London: Cambridge University Press.
Weitzman, G. (1999), Sparks of Light: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portions Based on the Philosophy of Rav Kook, Northvale, NJ, and Jerusalem: Jason Aronson.
Willis, D. (1995), The Sand Dollar and the Slide Rule: Drawing Blueprints from Nature, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Mel Alexenberg is Professor of Art and Jewish Thought at the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, Israel, and Emunah College of the Arts in Jerusalem. He was formerly Dean of Visual Arts at New World School of the Arts in Miami, Professor and Chairman of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute, Associate Professor of Art and Education at Columbia University and Bar-Ilan University, and Research Fellow at the MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks exploring digital technologies and global systems are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He is author numerous papers and books including of The Future of Art in a Digital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness (2006) and with Otto Piene, LightsOROT: Spiritual Dimensions of the Electronic Age (1988).