Tristan Cai, For A Better Tomorrow
2010–2011, 100 x 80cm
Archival giclee prints on Baryta Paper
For A Better Tomorrow are photographs of different religious leaders in Singapore praying while magnetic wave patterns in their brains are being recorded. Inspired by the research of Dr. Michael Persinger and neurotheologian Andrew Newberg who have studied how the brain responds to religious experiences, the photographs points to the shared and innate human experiences of prayer that unify all religions.
Dr. Michael Persinger is known for inventing the “God Helmet” which stimulates the deep areas of the temporal lobes, the biological register of religious experiences. Newberg’s research, on the other hand, has found that while prejudice generated by extreme beliefs can permanently damage your brain, prayer can change your brain structure altering your values and the way you see the world. Cai titled the images For A Better Tomorrow to point to how ‘science’ and ‘religion’ can work together to advance humanity.
For A Better Tomorrow is part of a series of photographs by Cai that image the different ways in which we represent our relationship with the divine in contemporary culture. Cai’s art works often collect and produce literary and visual artefacts that speak to the interactions of science with religion, and the inherent human condition that defines all religious practices.
Tristan Cai received his B.F.A(hon) from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and his M.F.A from San Francisco Art Institute, he has also pursued non-degree studies at TaiK (The Helsinki School). He has studied under and been influenced by Henry Wessel, Linda Connor, Meridel Rubenstein, Stephanie Syujuco and Jryki Parentainen. Cai’s multi-disciplinary art practice utilizes research-based ethnographic approaches to understand the human condition. A passionate educator, he has been appointed Assistant Professor of Photography at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, just south of Washington D.C since 2016. He also serves on the board of Oakwoods Art center, in Richmond, VA, an organization that provides accessibility to the arts for all people. Cai’s examination of science and religion are informed by his own personal experience and explorations of his personal religious beliefs.
Richard Walker, Epiphany
The Buddhist Archive of Photography
Photographs from the collection of Pha Khamfan
Fyerool Darma, To The Present Hour
Bob Lee, Have A Little Faith
AikBeng Chia, Thru Their Eyes
Kapilan Naidu and Darryl Lim, Dial-a-Religion