Meditation is hard, but watching this one-minute video of a steel ball making patterns on sand is easy (and nearly as relaxing). A modern take on the ancient art of the Zen garden, Bruce Shapiro’s Sisyphus Machine consists of rolling steel balls controlled by magnets below the table, which move via robotic arms that can reach every inch of the sand tray. These arms are programmed to move the balls so that they draw patterns, seemingly on their own.
Much like traditional sand mandalas made by monks, these intricate patterns don’t last long; the moment they’re complete, the machine moves on to next pattern, hence the reference to Sisyphus’s eternal struggle. For the viewer, this isn’t much of a struggle at all. Call it Zen Lite.