ZHU Xiaowen Awarded first TASML / DSL Residence Artist Award

TASML is pleased to announce that ZHU Xiaowen has been awarded the first TASML/DSML Artist Residence Award.

An international jury has selected  ZHU Xiaowen among other candidates for her proposal Wearable Urban Routine as a resident artist to begin a 6 week-long program at V2_Lab (Rotterdam) in the summer of 2011. She will produce a wearable device and make a series of urban performances.

The jury was comprised of the following:

Chris Csikszentmihályi (MIT Media Lab)
Sven Travis (Parsons the New School for Design)
Alex Adriaansens (V2_Institute for the Unstable Media)
Sylvain Levy (DSL Collection)

Wearable Urban Routine

Wearable Urban Routine is a wearable device that facilitates a series of performances in urban environment. Basically, it is an elongated hat that has a battery-powered spy camera and a portable projector attached to both sides. It is designed to explore the transformation of daily routine in urban life into a meditative process of self-discovering. The idea is inspired by the Marathon Monks in Mt. Hiei in Japan who perform an ascetic training called Kaihōgyō that requires extreme physical endurance in running for seven consecutive years. The Marathon Monks typically run 40-60 km for 17 hours everyday following the exact same path with minimum supplies of food, water, and rest. The point of Kaihōgyō is to attain enlightenment by facing death in current life. According to the monks who survived Kaihōgyō, the familiarity with daily routine and the challenge of extreme physical circumstances enabled them to perceive sound, vision and scents that were not perceivable before and fully concentrate on every single moment. Their practice reflects an interesting parallel to people’s passive participation in the mechanical urban routine. The difference is that the Marathon Monks actively choose to detach themselves from physical and materialistic desires, while most people in urban life are driven by the daily routine and become more attached to those desires.

The shape of the device is inspired by higasa, an elongated rain hat worn by the Marathon Monks during their training. A spy camera is attached to the back of the hat, capturing videos from the back of the user. A portable pocket projector is attached to the front of the hat, projecting onto the ground in front of the user. The artist will wear the device for a 2-week performance in various public spaces in Rotterdam, following the same path every day.  The performance will be recorded by the camera and the projector will always project the video from the day before, so that the artist can examine her path and try to follow the exact same routine. Strict rules will be made to ensure the seriousness of the performance.

The point of this project is not to imitate Kaihōgyō as a religious practice, but to adapt the form of a routine-based training, and to reverse the passive urban routine into an experiment of self-positioning with the aid of digital vision that overlaps past and present.