Kavita Bala, assistant professor in computer science and the Program of Computer Graphics, brought a flat sand image to dramatic life in a forum titled "Seeing Kalachakra, Being Kalachakra: An Exploration of the Farther Limits of Medicine, Neuroscience and Tibetan Buddhism," Sept. 18, in the Johnson Museum of Art. Bala displayed dazzling two-dimensional and 3D computer graphic models and animations of a grand palace in which 722 Buddhist deities reside.
Kalachakra mandalas depict the palace using colored sand as pigment. Monks painstakingly create images of extraordinary beauty over a process that can take weeks. As a lesson in the impermanence of life, mandalas are destroyed soon after their creation. Kalachakra means "wheel of time" and also refers to the supreme Buddhist deity.
Bala collaborated with the monks from Ithaca's Namgyal Monastery and College of Human Ecology student Liz Popolo to create the mandala computer models.