Stupa Duplicator 2010
dome kit, wood, insulation, hardware, sound system
University of Southern Maine, Gorham, ME

For the University of Southern Maine’s art gallery, a 150-year-old New England building, SIMPARCH gleaned inspiration from the ancient Hindu-Buddhist stupa.  The stupa form is a dome-shaped monument that originally commemorated significant Buddhist teachers through the housing of their relics, and as an architectural modeling of consciousness they continue to serve as representations of the enlightened mind. 

Countering tradition, SIMPARCH allowed the dome (the anda) to be inhabited as a “celestial vault” for the living.  The dome interior, softened and reduced visually with grey wool felt, was a sonic plenum with an ambient minimal drone*.  The drone 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 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 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. 

*Trilogie de la Mort, by Eliane Radigue