John Tavener composed this specifically for Björk. She chants a prayer from the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, “Prayer of The Heart”, accompanied by the Brodsky Quartet.
“Prayer of The Heart” is a short, simple prayer that has been widely used, taught and discussed throughout the history of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It is, for the Orthodox, one of the most profound and mystical prayers, and is often repeated endlessly as part of personal ascetic practice. It is particularly used in the practice of the spiritual life known as hesychasm. Based on Christ’s injunction in the Gospel of Matthew, “when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray”, hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God. The prayer is particularly esteemed by the spiritual fathers of this tradition as a method of opening the heart.
Greek: Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με (τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν).
English: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me (a sinner).
A portion of the opening movement of Paul Sharits’ 1968 film.
N:O:T:H:I:N:G is a film deplenished of all, of any signified stance and involved only in the manner of film itself. Just the drawing of a bulb, the projector light and a chair remain in the space of the screen. But these are just random disruptions of monochrome frames.
The whole film is built as a vibration of rhythms, ‘energy-colour’, based on the structure of the Tibetan mandala of five Dyani Bouddhas. Formally the composition is centred on the psychic flickering caused by four symbolic colours: white, yellow, red and green. The more the film is next to the centre that is the centre of the mandala, the empty point, the more the monochrome frames flicker faster, up to invert the speed in the second part of the film (bearing off the centre), the retrograde of the first one. Sharits constructed the structure of the film about the ‘Om’ Nembutsu droning: nevertheless the film can be considered as the visual translation of this sound.
“The screen, illuminated by Paul Sharits’ N:O:T:H:I:N:G, seems to assume a spherical shape, at times – due, I think, to a pearl-like quality of light his flash-frames create… a baroque pearl, one might say – wondrous!… One of the most beautiful films I’ve seen.” – Stan Brakhage
“You are pulled into the world of color, your color senses are expanded, enriched. You become aware of changes, of tones around your own daily reality. Your vision is changed. You begin to see light on objects around you… Your experience range is expanded. You have gained a new insight. You have become a richer human being.” – Jonas Mekas