A series of performances to transform the routine of urban life into a meditative process of self-discovery

Walking is simple. Simple is difficult. Walking is difficult.
I walk, trying hard to follow the same path, motion, pace and gesture every day. I walk, trying not to respond to urban noise and people's reaction. I walk, trying not to think about the fact that I am walking.
The moment while I am walking, I forget who I am and realize who I really am.
Wearable Urban Routine is a series of performances facilitated by an electronic wearable device in urban environment. It is created to transform the routine of urban life into a meditative process of self-discovery. In this work, Zhu performed over 12 days as an artist in V2_Institute for Unstable Media Residency Program in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Her concept was inspired by the Japanese Marathon Monks, who perform Kaihōgyō by walking a 25 mile path, 17 hours each day, 100 days per year, following the exact same path with minimum supplies of food and water. Their observance is designed to distance themselves from physical and materialistic desires, and to attain a heightened sense of sound and vision not perceivable to them before their activity.

In her restructuring of their practice, Zhu wore a ‘higasa’ hat fixed with a camcorder to capture her daily journey, as well as a projector to show a recording of the previous day’s performance documentation. During the 2-week performance, she walked a set route through Rotterdam every day, that passed by well-known scenes and landmarks. Seeing the projection of her walking video recorded from the previous day while walking, Zhu concentrated on maintaining the same gesture and pace in the meditative process.The project illustrates an exceptionally complicated notion of autoscophy or the outer body experience.

A 12-channel video documentation of the performance is created to present the distinguishable nuances in the daily walking routine. This “soul travel” or “spirit walking” stimulated from the projector furthers Zhu’s gesture of looking inward – or at one’s own image – in order to attain the metaphorical enlightenment: To be in complete unity with oneself.

Wearable Urban Routine received the first TAMSL/DSL Artist Residency Award. It was made possible by the support from V2_Institute for the Unstable Media and Tsinghua Art & Science Media Laboratory.

© 2019 by XIAOWEN ZHU, all rights reserved