The Buddha’s foot prints at Pakhan-gyi (Myanmar) were one of the earliest known depictions of the Buddha . It was not until five hundred years after the historical Buddha’s death that the now familar image of the sitting, standing or lying Buddha became common. The footprints are illustrated with Pali text and diagrammatic symbols illustrating the wisdom of the Buddha. The images of the footprints themselves allude to Prince Siddhartha’s first steps after absolute enlightenment. During his meditation
under the Bohdi Tree, he was met with many obstacles, one of which was the temptation of the flesh. It is said that beautiful maidens approached him and excoriated his efforts and asked him to join them in ecstatic union. When he refused, they transformed into hideous visages in order to scare him away from his meditation. “Pakhan-gyi” is a pigment print made on a digital printer and is 33”x64.” The work consists of two mirror-image feet in alternating dark and light fields of thousands of images that are tiny “thumbnail” files gleaned from pornographic websites. The transparency of the images allows the feet to merge and emerge from this field of “desire.” The Buddha’s efforts against human ignorance is successful; as he takes his first step, his lessons and experience are impressed against a stone. This is the origin of the Pakhan-gyi footprint.