A room divided into four by a translucent fabric. In the foreground on the right, a black wooden chair attached to an electronic device in one of the quadrants.

Rene Yung & Janice Giteck | The Four Dignities

A person sits on a chair in a dark space, with an illuminated semi-transparent screen behind them. A small speaker hangs overhead.July 15-September 30, 2005

The Four Dignities is a secular interpretation of the Buddhist concept of mindfulness that extends to every aspect of living, embodied in the different positions we assume throughout the day: sitting, standing, walking, and lying down. Through sound, light, and space, the installation seeks to engage viewers in contemplation of these bodily states.

Visually, the work consists of four planes of softly-lit fabric around a central axis, creating four distinct quadrants. In the sitting, lying down, and standing quadrants, a plain chair, a simple bed, and a small speaker overhead position the viewer in proximity to the recorded text: quietly spoken single words or brief phrases evoking the moments of daily life informed by that position, underlaid by a faintly audible narrative describing in precise, poetic language the physicality of that particular position.

Environmental sounds, assembled by composer Janice Giteck, emanate quietly from the periphery, shifting gradually from urban interior to urban outdoors to deep nature, in a continual cycle layered over the barely-recognizable sound of a softly-struck bell or gong at one-minute intervals. The carefully modulated texture of sounds and meaning creates an environment that holds the viewer in contemplation of the basic dignity of being embodied.

The audio component of The Four Dignities was created at Jack Straw during a 2004 New Media Gallery residency. An early version of the work was exhibited in California as part of Sacred Spaces, a group show at the Berkeley Art Center.


Rene Yung

Rene Yung is a San Francisco-based installation artist, designer, and writer, who explores issues of culture and identity through multi-layered works, often combining imagery and text. A native…

Janice Giteck

Janice Giteck

Janice Giteck (born New York, 1946) is a composer of music for concert, multi-media, dance and theater. Her work is most celebrated for its visceral connection to social issues…