Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Artist takes Angkor temples into new dimensions

Artist takes Angkor temples into new dimensions

Artist takes Angkor temples into new dimensions

110506_7d08
Bruno Levy’s spaced-out Angkor art certainly brings something new to Siem Reap’s art scene.

Bruno Levy creates artworks that are a combination of futuristic kitsch, present-day reality and ancient Angkorian mysticism

Siem Reap computer artist and techno geek Bruno Levy has been shooting for the stars with his ambitious Angkor-Planet Project, a far-out flash-based interactive online guide to the Angkor ruins, backed with a real-time gallery in Siem Reap.

But Bruno has crashed to Earth with his latest commercial side venture, Magic Postcards.

It seems he can’t win with these special optical illusion postcards printed in China – hold the postcard one way and there’s a vision of a monk standing against a temple background. But tilt the card and the image changes. The temple background remains the same but instead of a monk, there’s a woman dressed in a slightly racier version of ancient Angkorian garb.

Back in 1992 the music trio Right Said Fred had a hit singing “I’m Too Sexy for My Shirt,” but in the here and now in 2011, Bruno is sighing that he’s too sexy for Siem Reap.

Or at least his magic postcard is. Recently a Khmer-language newspaper called for official scrutiny of the postcards as not being in keeping with “Khmer culture”, and said that the Apsara Authority, who had recently banned some foreigners from the temples for wearing “sexy dress”, would investigate the matter.

But while Bruno says he hasn’t heard from any authorities, including Apsara, and isn’t aware of “being under investigation”, he’s had to withdraw his postcards from sale at retail outlets.

“I cannot sell them at the moment,” he despairs. “Many shop owners have read this article. One shop owner immediately told me they would stop selling the cards, and other owners told me they were worried. So I had to withdraw them all from sale.”

Bruno has consigned the Magic Postcards business to the “too difficult” basket for the moment, but in the meantime he’s keeping busy evolving his weird Angkor-Planet.com website, and creating his extra-large computer-generated temple artworks that are a combination of futuristic kitsch, present-day reality, and ancient Angkorian mysticism.

Previously, Bruno was a Parisian director of documentaries for French companies but he says that in a gradual evolution, he “followed the technological movement”.

This led him to become an artistic computer programmer in ad land. But then his fascination with Cambodia led him to visit the country on and off for almost 10 years before he packed up his laptops and moved permanently to the Kingdom of Wonder four years ago, eventually settling in Siem Reap with his Khmer true love.

In Siem Reap, he’s taken his strange but compelling far-out art into the universe of his mind and into the outer reaches of the world wide web, creating his global Angkor-Planet website in which he shares his personal vision; past, present and future.

In some of his computer-generated paintings, Angkorian temples become Star Wars-like space platforms surrounded by light floating off into the darkness of the outer cosmos, and UFOs infiltrate other temple scenes.

Everything about Bruno and his work suggests that he is a Yoan, a practitioner of Yoism – a techno geek cult that claims to be “the world’s first open source religion”, or the “open source truth process”.
It began in the US in the mid-1990s and its practitioners, or “participants”, call themselves Yoans.

Yoism is loosely based on more famous open source movements such as Wikipedia.

In July 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported: “Yoism – a faith invented by a Massachusetts psychologist – shuns godly wisdom passed down by high priests. Instead, its holy text evolves online, written by the multitude of followers – much the same way volunteer programmers create open-source computer software by each contributing lines of code.”

But even though his art echoes their principles of mixing and matching religious memes and themes, when this is put to him he breaks out in a bout of incredulous bewilderment, either feigned or otherwise.
“Yoism?” he queries, “What is Yoism? I have never heard of it.”

Perhaps it’s just sheer coincidence that on his trippy website one of the really great and grabby interactive features is a paint-your-own-Yoan.

He claims his use of the word Yoan comes from a Khmer word which is derived from Pali and when coupled with the Pali word for yantra means something along the lines of “Buddha forming yantra”.

In the end, though, whatever his geeky cosmological humour reveals or doesn’t reveal, the reality is that his art is eye-catching in its weirdness, and perhaps all that can be said about Bruno is God bless him – whoever or whatever God is in his website at any given moment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon