Urban Circumambulations

Andrew Senior 2007
"Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon."
Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Urban Circumambulations is a project to encourage the reimagining of the city as a place for contemplation and enlightenment, and to appropriate circumambulation as a tool for psychogeography.

This work adopts the practice of circumambulation (Sanskrit parikrama) - walking a circular path - which figures in many world religions, particularly Buddhism (stupas and sacred mountains), Islam ("tawaf" of the kaaba) and Christianity (for instance in Greek Orthodox baptism). Adapting the meditative, symbolic practice to an urban, contemporary context this work will consist of video/GPS circumambulations of city locations. By appropriating the religious practice, the artist hopes to re-examine the activity, and liberate it from its religious associations, subverting and renewing the practice as a tool for mindfulness, examination of the urban landscape and to focus on urban issues.

Contributions of videos of such walks by the artist in New York City will be posted on google videos, and conflux participants are encouraged to submit their own contributions. Each contributor is encouraged to consider and elicit a unique mood and significance with each circumambulation - whether mindful, political, spiritual or irreverent.

Circumambulations of all kinds are solicited- from islands and boroughs through city blocks and traffic circles to lampposts and apartments. Sites may be selected for personal or spiritual significance, or to call attention to an urban issue represented by the site. Contributions in all media are encouraged, though we particularly expect video, GPS, audio, and digital photographs and blogs. Contributors are encouraged to post contributions to public sites (e.g. Flickr or google videos, tagged with "conflux" and "circumambulations") and email the organiser with online location of the documentation and physical location of the circumambulation. Contributors are also encouraged to submit one or two minute versions of contributions in time-based media. Participants may be interested in using a steadycam (see google videos on how to make one or use a tripod as one instead).

Contributed circumambulations will be plotted on a map and projected in the Conflux HQ.

During Conflux, a circumambulation will be led by the artist with participants documenting the selected Williamsburg route in their own chosen style and medium.

My own augmented reality video "Circumambulation" (of an Indian stupa) can be seen at:

Urban Circumambulations

Some new urban circumambulations for this project:

It is our pleasure to serve you

Do nothing

Department of Incorrections

Times Square

Chelsea War Memorial, NY
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