Digital Mudra

Exhibited at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley in 1987, Digital Mudra begins with the data acquired from Biorhythm, including the photographs of gestures. Rapoport associated each participant’s recorded gesture with one of 52 hand gestures known in Sanskrit as Mudras. For 400 years Mudra movements have been used in Southern India to tell a story. The story is cued by the storyteller and interpreted by the Kathakali dancer who creates a physical and emotional phenomenon. The purpose of this synthesis of language and gesture is to imagine the word’s movement as a perception of universal relationships.

Rapoport suggested the cross-cultural correlations of hand gestures and their trans-cultural meanings. Mudras and their word meanings were juxtaposed within a Western context and transcribed onto a computer printout and also, into a Kathakali dance. Rapoport discovered that the words people chose to describe their gestures in Western culture, and the words given to the gestures in the Mudra vocabulary, were surprisingly similar. Finally, Rapoport created a slide presentation showing current political leaders making similar gestures having similar verbal contexts.

In 1989, a version of Digital Mudra was uploaded to the Internet as a web-based interactive artwork.


Sonya Rapoport, “Digital Mudra”, photodocumentation of installation at Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA, 1987.


Sonya Rapoport, "Digital Mudra (Artist Book).
Sonya Rapoport, “Digital Mudra (Artist Book).