March 27, 2008


I know that I get lost in thought while painting, biking, and generally quite often. I want to begin to focus on this state of being and study the ritual that I go through to induce such trances.

My case study will begin specifically with graffiti on NYC doors as I document my own form of zen and the art of street-cred maintanence. I will begin making comparisons between NYC graffiti'd doors and the Japanese Kamidana as well as tags and the Senjya Fuda. Here I hope to progressively move forward and make other connections finding historical forms of trance-induced identity tourism. Or make more links to Obsessive Compulsive Disorders.

Looking into history, Japanese pilgrimages can be divided into two general types. The first type is exemplified by the pilgrimage to 33 Sites Sacred to Kannon in Western Japan and the pilgrimage to 88 Holy Sites of Shikoku, in which one makes a circuit of a series of temples or holy places, sometimes separated by great distances, in a set order. The order of visitation is an important feature of this type of pilgrimage. The second type is a journey to one particular holy place. Pilgrimages in this latter group include the famous Kumano Sanzan (Wakayama), the Ise Shrine (Mie), Mt. Koya (Kii Peninsula, Wakayama), Mt. Fuji and other holy mountains in Japan.

In common usage the term junrei usually refers to the first type only. It is thought that pilgrimages were first undertaken in the Nara Period (710-794 AD), but the custom did not become popular until the Heian Era (794-1185 AD).

The senjya-fuda tradition apparently became popular during the Edo Period (1603-1867), when many believed that good fortune would come to them while their sticker remained attached to the temple or shrine gate. Despite modern rules that forbid pilgrims to paste these stickers on the temple/shrine gate, the senjya-fuda tradition still thrives in other ways in modern Japan. Many commercial shops will make customized stickers just for you -- i.e., with your family name, crest, and image of your choice. The Japanese paste these stickers just about anywhere, on their cars, on cell phones, post boxes, gifts, etc.

A tangential concept amongst graffiti, pilgramages, and trances is linearity to form muliplicity. The best tags I encounter are the most simple and often times what are defined as "one liners". The fluid momement of the lettering runs parallel to the concepts set forth by Guy Debord and the Situationist International when experimenting with dérive. Through SI's experiments with geographical drifting I want to see how ritualistic identity tourism on NYC doors leads to dérive remix.

One final note is the latest show at the MOMA called Design and the Elastic Mind. At its entrance is a piece by Hektor which I saw a while ago on a graffiti site. It basically uses two motors to pull a spray can attached by cables to draw images. It works of x, y coordinates and can draw just about any preloaded image. What was interesting was that they used it to write out the title of the show in a very basic typeface. However instead of turning the can off when it finished a stroke and went to say, dot an "i" or cross a "t", it continued to make the mark, showing all the connectivity in the structuring of our alphabet. I saw this as a departure point to follow the above concept on ritual and linearity.

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