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Sunday, Dec. 3
The Indiana Daily Student


Kundabuffer conundrum

Do you know where your 'kundabuffer' is located?

No one at Yogi's Grill and Bar seems to know what a kundabuffer is. Customers ask the employees every day, especially when the fluorescent green signs facing 10th Street near Indiana Avenue are lit up at night.\n"They think because we're across the street we know what it means," Mike Glasscott, a manager of Yogi's, 519 E. 10th St., said of the signs with "kundabuffer" emblazoned on them. \nGraduate student Stuart Hyatt knows exactly what a kundabuffer is, and he'd like to rid you of yours. That would mean surgically removing the organ -- the kundabuffer -- that is the source of all negative energy in your body. Minus the organ, the idea goes, you will rise to a higher level of enlightenment and awareness. \nBut Hyatt is no surgeon. He specializes in sculpture in the School of Fine Arts. So he's broadcasting the sound of bells at random intervals from the McCalla School at 10th Street and Indiana Avenue, home of the kundabuffer sign and studio space for Fine Arts graduate students. People who have his BEAM 600 personal radios -- converted from Radio Shack Walkman models -- can pick up the chiming of the bells. \n"The ringing is to remind people to come back to the present moment," Hyatt said. "I just want people to pay more attention to their experiences, have a little more enthusiasm."\nHyatt said the idea of the kundabuffer is not his own. He read about it in a work by George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, a Russian mystic. The idea is one he's encountered many times: when people expel some source of negative internal energy, they can reach a clearer state of mind. It's an idea that fascinated Hyatt, a man who was raised in the Unitarian Church and has visited the Church of Scientology world headquarters. \n"I've always had an interest in some magical realm to the world," he said. \nHe traces the idea for the kundabuffer campaign to a letter that his mother sent when he was an undergraduate at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. \nEnclosed in the letter was an article about men with post-war trauma who lost focus of what they valued without the clear-cut mission of a war. His mother posed a question: Could you state your life mission in 10 words or less?\n"After a few weeks, I came up with it: To be present at every moment," he said. \nThe idea stuck with him for five years, and now his studio in the McCalla School is full of kundabuffer T-shirts, posters, stickers and BEAM 600 radios. \n"Do I expect people to really use these things?" he said, holding a Walkman that is attached to a single earpiece. "No." \nAlthough he's selling the radios, shirts and posters, his motive is more to cover costs than turn a profit.\nHe gave a T-shirt to his friend Sung-Kyun Kim, a SPEA graduate student, for his birthday Aug. 2. People ask Kim what it means, and he tells them that the kundabuffer is an imaginary organ that causes depression.\nWithout it, he says, you can stay calm and cool. Kim doesn't have a BEAM 600 radio tuned to the bells, but he hopes to become more introspective just wearing the shirt.\n"When I heard about it, I remembered the sound of a huge bell that I heard at Buddhist temple in Korea," he said. "They use bells to awake every living things from ignorance."\nRichard Saxton, a graduate student in the School of Fine Arts, said he wears the T-shirt, too. His first contact with the project was when the sound of the bells filtered through the floorboard to his studio, which is above Hyatt's in the McCalla School. \nHe thinks the project is refreshing, especially in its potential to wake people from everyday numbness and edge them beyond mediocrity. \n"We grow up and forget to play," Saxton said. "I'm interested to see what someone can do with these things, how it can filter into everyday life and actually affect people."\nTo Hyatt, the project is not a cult or a religion. It's a way for his art to reach people beyond the limits of an art gallery.\n"I have to go out and do things in the world to remind myself that art can inform lives, change behavior and the way people feel about the world"

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