SIMPARCH has envisioned an architectural modeling of consciousness, prompted by gallery curator Carolyn Eyler's invitation to create a project which considered Buddhism and architectures of awareness. Their gallery intervention is an alternative interpretation of the Hindu-Buddhist stupa, a dome-shaped monument that originally commemorated significant Buddhist teachers through the housing of their relics, and that continue to serve as representations of the enlightened mind.
SIMPARCH researched traditional stupas in designing their resulting composite form. The emphasis however is on the "duplicator" - the artists' gesture of recreating characteristics of monuments that derive meaning from their devotional environments [and duplicating the forms to be used as mental models that catalyze higher levels of consciousness] to a gallery site devoid of such meaning. Traditionally, the stupa is a place for contemplation and the walking meditation of circumambulation – a mental de-accelerator.
Countering tradition, SIMPARCH allows the dome (the anda) to be inhabited as a "celestial vault". The dome interior, softened and reduced visually with grey wool felt, is a sonic plenum of recorded drone compositions. The ambient minimal drone [or maximal depending on your point of view] embodies universal principles of sound and vibration which have been used for millennia to induce shifts in individual consciousness. The traditional name given to these seemingly never-ending undertones, is OM – the formless sound of the heavens, the infinite.
SIMPARCH has appropriated the sacred technology of the stupa, incorporating the contemporary interpretations of the sacred drone into what may be, at least for the next month, the magical center of Gorham.
SIMPARCH is an artist collaborative group. Since 1996, SIMPARCH has been creating large-scale interactive artworks that examine building practices and site specificity. Steve Badgett of SIMPARCH has been in Gorham since the beginning of the spring semester as a USM Art Department Artist-in-Residence and has been joined by collaborator Matthew Lynch as well as Brett Volpe and Pat Finlay for the exhibit installation.
The stupa was located in the Gorham gallery with considerations for the traditional form which includes entering the elevated path from the east and circumambulating in a clockwise direction, the direction of the sun's perceived movement.